By Paige Donner
School lunches are a social justice issue for children in our country today. Sugar is our nation’s biggest addiction, after oil.
And sugar, coupled with poor nutrition, is just as debilitating. A poor diet, one that is preservative rich and nutrient poor, causes kids to feel sluggish, perform poorly and addles their brains. This is referred to as the "achievement gap" because it generally affects children of lower-income households.
So while everyone is talking about healthcare reform, let's talk a little about growing a healthy next generation so we won't need so much healthcare. It's called preventative medicine. Anyone ever hear of it?
On Harry Shearer’s most recent Le Show, he cited stories from Australia where the number of children who are getting “lap bands” and gastro-intestinal surgery as YOUNG AS AGE 12 doubled in the past year. Go ahead. Read that again...at age 12 they're starting
U.S. stats aren’t far behind:
32 % of U.S. teens are overweight or obese.
30.5 million children areserved free or reduced price lunches in the U.S. This number is expected to rise due to recent economic woes.
A typical school lunch costs: $2.57 A healthy school lunch costs: $3.50
National estimated cost of obesity: $147 Billion.
Chef Ann Cooper, known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, says, “There is an achievement gap and a life expectancy gap between the rich and the poor. When you feed kids a diet high in sugar and corn syrup they just can’t think, and if you’re not well nourished you can’t excel,” she adds that, “We have kindergarteners entering school with Type 2 diabetes, 10- to 14-year olds with clogged arteries. We have a moral imperative to turn this around.” Read more from Chef Ann at www.schoolfoodpolicy.com
Want to get involved? First, go to your kid’s school and eat what they’re eating for lunch. Then do the homework: go to www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org the website run by the Local School Wellness Policy Act which promotes healthful eating for our kids at school.
Eating healthy and organic doesn’t have to cost more. It’s just a question of informing yourself. The Environmental Working Group issued this list of the Good and Bad organics this past year. They call it their Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.
The Dirty Dozen (Always try to buy organic. They have very high levels of toxic pesticides.)
Bell peppers, Grapes (imported)
The Clean 15 (These test lowest for pesticide residues.)
Sweet Corn, Papaya
Sweet Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Kiwi
Are pesticides as scary as they're made out to be? Yes!
The Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) says that pesticides such as Atrazine, banned in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden BUT the second most widely used pesticide in the U.S., and Dursban, banned by the EPA for “nonagricultural uses”only, are associated with serious health issues such as neurological damage, birth defects, developmental and behavioral issues (autism, ADHD), and some cancers.
“One recent study showed that birth defects such as spina bifida, cleft lip, clubfoot, and Down’s Syndrome are most common in children conceived during the spring and summer, when agricultural pesticide use is at its peak. Read more at Environmental Health Perspectives.
The magazine Delicious Living has a solid breakdown on basic USDA organic standards. Try searching USDA Organic at www.deliciousliving.com.
Also check out Ann Cooper’s website and Nonprofit, F3: Food, Family, Farming. www.foodfamilyfarming.org. Search for the site’s interactive tool, The Lunch Box where you can design a blueprint for starting a healthy lunch program at your kids’ school.Read more at: http://greeninghollywood.blogspot.com
And at http://greenblognetwork.blogspot.com