19 June 2011

Food Fury

Warning: There is no knitting content in this post. I'm furious about something else, and want to share my fury with all of you in the hope that it may inspire change.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is am amazing movement. With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions, along with childhood diabetes and other diet-related chronic illnesses, there needs to be a paradigm shift in how we feed our children, both at school and at home. Educating students, parents, and staff face-to-face in the schools is a great way to make that change happen. Filming that education and broadcasting it on national television is another excellent way to make it happen. Re-learning how to feed our children (and the rest of us) is an obvious, critical step toward improving the health of our country.

So why in hell are school districts making this impossible?

School boards are trying to prevent Jamie from coming into their schools and making changes because they fear bad publicity. They're afraid of Jamie pointing out that the average American school lunch is packed with empty calories and preservatives, and utterly lacking in the nutrients necessary for healthy bodies. They're afraid that if Jamie broadcasts anything negative about their school lunch programs, that parents will stop having their children buy lunches at school, and revenues will fall.

This. Is. Bullshit.

There are schools that are providing healthy, locally-grown, freshly-prepared food for their students, and doing it in a cost-effective way. There are schools that are educating students and parents about nutrition so the diet changes extend to the home kitchen. There are families whose lives have been improved dramatically for the better thanks to Jamie and his show.

It can be done. It is being done, but it's also being opposed, and that's what scares me. As long as there are people actively inhibiting such a beneficial project, we, as a society, have more work to do.

Start here. Sign the petition, find out what you can do on a local level, and make this change happen. Watch episodes on Hulu to see exactly what Jamie is doing, and get ideas that you can use at your school and at home.

Don't wait for someone else to raise the subject, and don't let the school board tell you that it can't be done, that it's too expensive, or that the pre-processed, long-distance, preservative-laden food they're serving is healthy enough.

Nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese (a percentage which is almost identical in Vermont, by the way -- we're not as healthy a state as we think), and the kids who are in grade school now will add to that statistic in the next dozen years. Change the eating habits of our children today, and the adults of tomorrow will be healthier. Simple as that.

I'm gonna go try to calm down now.

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