Sunday, April 1, 2012

School Lunch & Social Justice

Convenience: The state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or no difficulty.

Perhaps one of the greatest driving forces of change in America in the latter part of the 20th century was convenience. In a world that was becoming increasingly more complex, fast-paced and stressful; a world where both parents had to work and latch-key kids became the norm; a world that was increasingly built on consumerism to fuel corporate growth...convenience emerged as a common denominator , a means to an end, and a marketing bonanza.

Convenience trumped quality and we became a throw away economy. And, convenience trumped health and we became a fast food nation.

In 2000, Americans spent more than $110 billion on fast foods. Americans now spend more more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars.”
$17-$20 billion/year is spent marketing fast foods to kids alone.

The proliferation of these chemical concoctions masquerading as food changed both the perception and definition of food to the extent that many of our kids can no longer identify real foods. 

The impact of this dramatic shift, to eating super-sized portions of calorie and sugar dense, nutrient deficient, chemically-laden fast foods and snacks, cannot be understated.

The toll on our children's health has been enormous.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

- 32% of American children are obese or overweight.
- More than 7% of teenagers (2 million) are estimated to be pre-diabetic, with symptoms of high blood   pressure and high blood glucose levels.
- at this rate 40 to 45% of all school-aged children could be insulin-dependent within a decade.
- 1 in 6 US children now has a developmental disability such as autism, learning disorders, ADD/ADHD
- 1 in 5 kids is on some prescribed medication.
- This generation of kids will be the first with a shorter anticipated lifespan than their parents.

I believe that saving our children and life on our planet must begin with a renewed understanding of the absolute inter-connectedness between the health of our planet and human health, ie: that there is no separation between environmental issues and human health. The best place to start is to change our kids' relationship to, and help them reconnect with, the food that they eat. Kids need to learn where real food comes from, how it grows, and how to store and prepare restore instincts and traditions that were stolen from us by agribusiness, chemical companies, the food industry and their marketing, as enabled and aided by the US government.

This video with Chef Ann Cooper, The Director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley Unified School District, gives us hope and shows that one passionate person can make a big difference. We need to follow her lead and make these changes in every community across America.

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