Sunday, February 14, 2010

How We Can Help To "Teach Every Child About Food"

"Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead through the food that they eat."

I found this TED Talk to be inspiring.  There are people out there actually TRYING to make this connection in people's lives:  the food that we eat directly correlates to the quality of our lives.  All of the disparate cultures in the world can come together and agree on one thing - we eat to live.  We are bound together by our dependency on food and the very real effects that WHAT we eat have on our bodies, minds and spirits.

I've never seen 'The Naked Chef' - Jamie Oliver's moniker over in Britain, and the title of his first series of shows in the late 90's - but I am definitely intrigued.

The above talk addresses the outcome of and the concerns that inspired the making of his newest show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (debuting March 26th on ABC).

"I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.
As do I, Jaime, as do I.  Like Mr. Oliver, I am sick of seeing the people around me struggle to lead healthy lives. Unfortunately, many don't care to, but that is their decision.  These people are not why I have chosen to speak up; though I hope that I may, leading by example and providing education if interest is sparked, inspire some to happier, healthier lives.  It's for my grandfather who follows every piece of popular dietary advice and whithers away and dies well before his time.   It's for my aunt who adopted a low fat, cholesterol-phobic diet after suffering a heart attack - when evidence has been around the entire time the "low-fat craze" and the "Prudent Diet" have been around that this is not the case I do it for me, 7 years ago, the depressed, morbidly obese teenager who was convinced that I was overweight because of my genes; convinced that I was depressed because something was wrong with me; when, all along, it was my diet of industrial byproducts, processed grains and Frankenfoods along with a lack of community and connection with the food, the people - the world - around me that kept me a miserable train-wreck of a person.

I worry for them.  I worry for us all.  CHD is rampant.  Leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Obesity and type II diabetes rage through our population, affecting our CHILDREN now.  We bleed billions upon billions of dollars into the medical INDUSTRY every year trying to treat diseases that arise from a system that is already sucking us dry monetarily as well as spiritually.  And to what end?  It's still killing us in droves.
"This is a preventable disease.  Waste of life."

And the prevention lies in education.  Responsibility.  The responsibility of those who have pulled us away from our food - the creation of this fast-food nation of people who have absolutely no idea how sustenance end up on their plate.   One of the most unsettling parts of this presentation was the utter lack of knowledge that the children had about the vegetables presented to them.  How does one, in this bountiful cornucopia that we live in with access to fruits and vegetables from all over the world, not know what a potato is?  There are children that have never even seen a real garden, let alone the horrendous farms and monocrap wastelands whence come magically their food - generally heavily processed and full of shit that ISN'T EVEN FOOD (and don't forget wonderful things like fillers and the ridiculous amount of sugar in chocolate milk).

It's a chain reaction; consequent generations are more and more removed from their food, becoming more dependent on government and corporations to feed them and having no idea what's in their food, let alone what constitutes a healthy diet.  Thankfully, there are people like Jamie that are impassioned and trying to make a difference.  Thankfully, he has resources and pop culture is aware enough of him (he's in commercials on major networks and such) that this message will reach a wide audience.  This is definitely a step in the right direction; but it's only a step.

So what do we, the common folk that lack the influence and wide-reaching impact of a celebrity food-guru, do to aide this movement?  There are resources available to participate, forums for your voice to be heard.

  • Better School Food has a lot of information, including a Top-10 List for what can make a school lunch healthier and an Action Plan for some concrete ideas on how to bring quality into your child's lunchtime.
  • Farm To School will help you bring local, sustainable, healthful food to children's lunch trays.
  • The Slow Food Movement has a Time For Lunch, providing an easy way to write to your legislators about strengthening the nutritional standards of the Child Nutrition Act.
And outside the lunch room?  What about education for you and I?  Look into the Slow Food Movement mentioned above and network with people that are trying to move us away from being a 'Fast Food Nation' and reunite us with the unifying marvel that is our food.

Another avenue for involvement can come from the Weston A. Price Foundation.  The WAPF is dedicated to REAL nutrition education and preserving farmer's rights against government and corporations (supporting initiatives like the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund).

This problem is not going to solve itself.  And while its great that we have celebrities and personalities that actually have the interest of the common people at heart, we cannot rely on them.

This has to come from us.

And it has to start with what's on your table.
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Man vs World by Aaron M Fraser is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.