Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's A Food Revolution, Are You In?

Today was a BUSY day. I had seven assignments all due between 12:45-5:30p.m. (media kit, dance paper, video news release storyboard, marketing test, brand in action presentation, creative brief and a media presentation), but I got everything done and am happy to have made it out of this crazy day with a smile on my face. Woo!

The food that got me through it: 365 Organic honey almond O's with skim milk for breakfast, raspberry soy yogurt, coconut cream pie Larabar (AMAZING) and 1/4 papaya for lunch, organic chocolate chip cookie (from the batch I made last night to keep me motivated!) for a snack, vegan chicken with vegetables and couscous for dinner and 2 caramel squares, chai tea and lemon loaf as celebration foods/dessert.

I got home from school around 10ish, watched "The Real Housewives of New York," (if you haven't noticed already, I love "Housewives" and practically anything on E! haha) and then went on hulu to watch "Jamie's Food Revolution." After watching the show, I have to say that I really relate to Jamie. I think that some people think it's strange that I care about food so much and don't really care to listen when I try to explain to them why I choose to eat the way I do.

People from this episode such as the Dawg radio host or some of the women working in the elementary school's kitchen are out there in real life (literally and figuratively) and those are the people who will prevent our nation from becoming healthy. People laugh about eating foods that have been preserved with chemicals and might even feel that it is the "American Way" to eat nuggets and burgers day in and day out, and will accept high fructose corn syrup-filled Heinz ketchup because it's tradition; however, if a parent is stubborn about the foods they eat and serve to their children, then their kids will be unwilling to try new foods, too. One of the most difficult parts of the episode to watch was when these kids ate their pizza and drank a strawberry sugar concoction and then threw out their untouched apples.

As my mom would say, "that's BP" (BP=bad parenting). If you allow your kids to skip their fruits and vegetables at home, they won't see any reason to eat them at school, even if they are right there on the tray. My jaw literally dropped open when the principal of the school told Jamie that his lunch of fresh chicken, brown rice and yogurt did not include enough servings of bread to be served during lunch. This is a requirement that the school must meet through USDA guidelines that I believe are just plain incorrect. As Jamie says, "America's guidelines for schools are all rubbish." When the principal chooses processed, frozen pizza over fresh, lemon-seasoned chicken to serve the school's kids for lunch, there is something going terribly wrong.

The worst part about this whole thing is that these guidelines are out there. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that the USDA guidelines have something to do with grain, dairy and meat lobbyists, to name a few. As the site states, "MyPyramid helps individuals use the Dietary Guidelines to make smart choices from every food group." The word every is key here. If you look above at what I ate today I did not eat anything from the meat, poultry or fish groups and probably did not eat the exact servings that I should according to the pyramid. In fact, none of the meals I ate today would be able to be served in schools according to the rules portrayed on this episode of "Food Revolution." Think about all of the people you know out there who like to stick to rules in their lives and see if you can't make a connection between this and their food conservatism. These are the people who look at an item such as flaxseed and when they can't fit it into the food groups they were taught in school, have no interest in trying it.

The guidelines used today are outdated (literally, our most current Dietary Guidelines are from 2005) and if what the USDA is requiring of the one elementary school in West Virgina is also a requirement of all schools, I do think that it would be fair to say that these guidelines, along with parents who allow their kids to get by just eating processed macaroni and burgers all the time, have put us in the poor health situation we are currently in. You might be wondering how this childless, 20-year-old could blame something such as obesity on parenting but if a child does not learn to value eating a salad or biting into a pear at home, it will be very difficult to get them to realize the importance of these essential foods on their own (especially when they're three or four years old).

I am lucky to have parents who exposed me to different foods when I was younger. At the age of six I was cutting my own kiwi in half to scoop the insides out with a spoon and by seven I was eating falafel with tzatziki sauce. I may be an exception to the rule because I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't interested in food, but I do feel that parents have an obligation to their children to keep them healthy. My Aunt Cathy calls my cousins' diets "beige with a splash of red" AKA bread, chicken and sometimes tomato sauce. So, she bought a juicer and now they are drinking their fruits. Choose vegetable raviolis over cheese ones, bake lightly breaded tofu in the oven and slice up a banana for your children while they are playing or doing their homework. Serve with almond butter and plain yogurt for dipping and they'll see this fruit as a fun activity (you can also do this with boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives, too. Just sayin').

I truly believe that if children get involved with food at a young age they will learn to value it and their bodies, I know I certainly did. In my opinion the right to health should not be about politics, religion or race (::insert health care debate argument here:: Really though, what I'm talking about is replacing french fries with cucumbers, not who gets to be reelected or taxed). No kid should have to be made fun of for being overweight and no kid should be overweight if their health is being supported by their parents, schools and especially the USDA if they are the ones telling these kids what to eat. Watch the first episode, check Jamie out tomorrow on "Oprah" and on ABC tomorrow night for the newest episode and see how you feel about it. I could go on and on and on about this topic but then I would never get to sleep! If you are one of those "by the guidelines" people, I challenge you to challenge the guidelines and follow one of Jamie's recipes for dinner this week.

With health,

Melissa

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