Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Bit of a Rant

I admit it. I'm officially old now. I'm a New Englander at heart, though not entirely puritanical. In some ways yes, I can be a traditionalist. "There's a shocker!", I'm sure H is saying. So what I'm trying to say here is, is that I'm a devout listener of NPR. Yup, that tune to the BBC World News rings in my ear each morning and it makes me smile, I confess. I like Carl Kesell and Terry Gross. I find "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" hilarious and I'm positively giddy when I get to listen to 'Fresh Air's' entire program as well as 'All Things Considered'. I've crossed the threshold into adulthood I guess.

So this morning as I was doing the morning commute into the 5th ring of hell, a.k.a. work, I was quite pleased to hear a story being done out of the UK on a topic H and I are quite adamant about. Healthy eating for children and school lunch programs.

Growing up in RI I actually didn't eat the school lunch. My Mom lovingly packed me a lunch each day, sometimes with little notes that had X's and O's on the napkins. That's love right there. She made sure it was a balanced meal too.
Fruit? Check.
Veggies? Check.
Milk or Juice? Check.
Sandwich consisting of protein and more veggies? Check, Check.

There was usually something sweet thrown in there but we were not a junk food house. My Mom cannot digest processed food. Hot dogs make her instantly up-chuck. I didn't have Mac 'n' Cheese until high school at a friends house. We did have more junk food slowly infiltrate our house in high school, but her rule was "Everything in Moderation". I live by that rule today. So does H. In our homes convienence food was a treat. Pizza was had maybe once a month. Dessert was for special dinners and soda was never allowed at the dinner table.

My school didn't possess a soda machine or any type of chips or candy either. The sweetest thing we had was canned fruit and chocolate milk in the lunch room. I guess that is why I find it so alarming now when I hear about chips, soda, candy and pastries being the norm in even elementary schools. There are so many kids who are on the school lunch program and Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other assorted fast food fare is readily available. Sure the schools have the same ol' chicken nuggets and salad available but how can a sad little orange compete with nachos?

Then I hear this story on NPR today. Britian has decided that oily fish will only be served twice a month in schools. No more crisps (chips to us Yanks), no more candy or sweets beyond fruit, and definetly no more chips (french fries) in the school's lunch room. Hooray!!! It's all part of a long term study that the UK has done. Sometime in the 90's researchers found that children in elementary schools were becoming more depressed. Why? While part of it is due to an increasing, and I have to say, alarming amount of television, hand held games, and computer screens being in their little faces, a lot is also due to diet. A diet that consisted largely of high-fat, salty, sugary sweet foods. Wow, what a newsflash. Sad, but true. This story is hardly new and definetly not just a UK based problem. People all over the world are more depressed and overweight today than they were even ten years ago.

Children are growing up in a faster, more competetive world today. Everything is in their face all the time. Marketing reaches them like it never has before. They are inundated 24/7. While many feel that it's not up to the government, but the parents, to mandate the level of virtual worlds our kids live in, the government can and should "assist" in what schools feed children. Too bad in the U.S. it's slow going with only a handful of higher income bracket schools doing this. Many U.S. schools have begun to offer healthier fare but they still offer the crap too. Mainly because the corporations pay the schools money to showcase their food. Crap that sadly is now available all the time, every where we waddle. Yup, waddle.

I don't want to raise T.D. in that environment where it's all, gimmee candy, fries and crap all the time. It is up to us parents to combat these corporations infiltration into our kids minds with their clever marketing. However, maybe instead of testing the bejeezus out of our kids each week and month the government and No Child Left Behind could say 'No!' to the giant corps and their money and subsidize our schools with all real, healthy foods and teach them about healthy eating, excercise and moderation in diet and life. Stop eliminating gym class too so they can cram in more class time to study for those damn standardized tests. But that's a whole other rant or two.

I'm climbing down from my giant soapbox now.


  1. Ummm...did you mean they are serving ONLY fish or OILY fish...I'm confused.

  2. Yup, OILY. As in fried. Fish 'n' chips as well. That was how it was described.

  3. Have you read Fast Food Nation or Don't Eat This Book? Eye openners. And there's a new one out by Marion Nestle, I think, that I haven't read yet.

  4. Oh, and the junk food and advertising is partially why we want to raise our kids overseas.


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.