I’m on a food kick. I admit it. I have been enlightened by the movie Food Inc. which focuses on our country’s food industry and it has started leading me in interesting directions. I am suddenly more attuned to the goings on in our media and schools in regard to food and health. I feel inspired to help our children get back to healthier ways.

Rant #1:

I realize that McDonald‘s supports the Olymipcs and the company’s money must help tremendously to pull off this enormous endeavor. However, I find the McDonald’s commercials aired during the Olympics completely insulting. Are the top athletes of the world really eating chicken McNuggets and McDonald’s food as part of their training diet. Really? My husband said that the commercial should actually say something to the effect of  “Let’s face it you’ll never be an Olympic athlete so you might as well eat some McNuggets”.

As an endurance runner and triathlete, I know that what I put into my body affects my training. What I eat before, during and after each workout will affect my next workout,  my energy, my muscle recovery and my sleep. It seems unethical to make the claim that McDonald’s is the type of food that champions eat. Is it not the same as the cigarette industry using actors smoking in movies as a method to promote its product to kids? It seems wrong.

I suppose that the athletes that sign these sponsorship deals are also partially to blame though they are young and perhaps vulnerable to the sudden limelight. Which leads me to my second rant that also involves the young and vulnerable.

Rant #2:

My children’s elementary school is most likely not very different than yours. The school lunches are really just fast food. The kids have a mere 20 minutes to wolf down their lunch. The cafeteria menus are filled with Tyson chicken products, pizza, burgers and hot dogs—basically your standard highway stop food. I am not sure if this is the case in other states or schools, but at our elementary school the kids can also buy extra items besides the entrees like pretzels, chips, ice cream, fruit roll ups and gummies to name a few. Is it really OK to give your children this option at such an impressionable age when they don’t have full impulse control.

The way our school handles lunch is to hand the children pre-paid lunch atm cards. The website MyNutriKids.Com helps a parent track the money their child spends and it allows parents to see, to a limited extent, what is being purchased. Would you as a parent ever give your child of 5-11 years old a credit card and let them go into a store to buy whatever they want? That is what we are doing; sometimes on a daily basis. Not only do we give our kids free reign to buy whatever they want but we are introducing them to buying things on credit (yes, it is a debit card but the point is that money is not being exchanged and they have no way to connect their purchases to the money on their cards). In my school district, you can get back some control of the situation by calling the cafeteria or school lunch director to request specific food items to be forbidden for your child to purchase. I wonder how many parents take that step.

Rave #1:

The chef Jamie Oliver has won a TED award for trying to change the world by attacking childhood obesity. Watch his incredible video here.

He has been making strides to change school lunches in both England and American, he has started a tv series called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” which debuts on Friday March 26th on ABC. Check out his website to see what you can do to help.

Rave #2:

There is a huge drive to connect children with food and where it comes from and how it’s made which is a good step in creating healthy eaters and bodies. In the above mentioned speech by Jamie Oliver, he went into a school in West Virginia and the kids could not identify vegetables. It was astounding. Like Oliver, another notable chef, Alice Waters, has made strides in food education. She began a program called the Edible Schoolyard which educate students in all aspects of growing, harvesting and preparing seasonal produce. Watch her inspiring video and see how you can make a difference in your community.

As consumers and parents, I believe it is our responsibility to make our voice heard in the realm of our children’s health. The market is dictated by the consumer and we can make a difference if we educate ourselves and the generations to follow and by putting our money where our mouths are.

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