Posted by: bostonk | March 4, 2009

Not so sweet surprise!

I apologize for my hiatus (I’m not sure who I’m apologizing to, as far as I know no one reads this…maybe to myself?) As a follow up to my post about High Fructose Corn Syrup, I have discovered why the Corn Refiner’s Association may have started that ad campaign. Check it.

Just published online in the journal, Environmental Health (http://www.ehjournal.net/
home/), is a science commentary reporting that mercury was found in 9 of 20 samples of commercial
high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a common sweetener of foods and beverages. The HFCS came
from three different manufacturers.
Mercury is a potent brain toxin that we know accumulates in fish and seafood, although diet is not
the only route by which we are exposed. When babies are exposed to elevated mercury in the womb,
their brains may develop abnormally, impairing learning abilities and reducing IQ. For these youngest
children, the science increasingly suggests there may be no “safe” level of exposure to mercury.

 

The people behind the report discovered that even manufacturers often don’t know that mercury is in HFCS, even though the information is available to them.  They decided to take matters into their own hands, and look into it.

When we learned of this gap in information, we set out to do the FDA’s work for it. We went to supermarkets and identified brand-name products—mainly soft drinks, snack foods and other items mostly marketed to children—where HFCS was the first or second ingredient on the label.

We sent several dozen products to a commercial laboratory, using the latest in mercury detection technology. And guess what? We found mercury.

In fact, we detected mercury in nearly one in three of the 55 HFCS-containing food products we tested. They include some of the most recognizable brands on supermarket shelves: Quaker, Hunt’s, Manwich, Hershey’s, Smucker’s, Kraft, Nutri-Grain and Yoplait.

 

I found this to be disturbing because these name brands are the ones with the most marketing, and are the most readily accessible to the public. Not everyone can afford to eat organic. 

It pisses me off that the government can decree that there is a “safe amount” of poison that can be in the food the people of our nation consume. I hope that the FDA does do a full scale investigation of this issue – this study absolutely shows that it is necessary.

Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup
By David Wallinga, M.D., Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl, Brian Yablon, M.D.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
January, 2009
Full Report

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Posted by: bostonk | March 3, 2009

Cisco Kid was a friend of mine

I traveled to San Francisco to visit friends with my omnivore significant other this weekend. What a fabulous city. I wish I had had more time to see everything. I did get to see the “Full House” house, which pretty much fulfilled my childhood fantasies.

So, I flew from Detroit to LA on Thursday, and then we got up and made the six hour-ish drive to San Francisco up the 5. Long, but can’t complain; it was pretty beautiful. It was the stuff that Windows 98 Desktop backgrounds are made of: flowering trees, mountain peaks, rolling green hills, etc.

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We stayed at the Best Western Americania It was very contemporary and not a bad value. Although, we didn’t get a cell phone signal except in one tiny corner of the room, which just so happened to be the only place in the room where we couldn’t access the free wi-fi. Awkward. Here is a virtual tour of our room. It was decent though, and offered the cheapest parking we found. I also got to speak French with a student we met in the lobby, which made me happy. 🙂

I had voted for the Vegnews Veggie Awards last year, and I saw that a restaurant called Millennium in San Francisco had won. I’m a bargain traveler/college student so I had actually given up on going when I saw that it was around $20 a plate, but Dave has a real job so he treated me. And thank GOD we ended up going! The restaurant was a beacon of light in the somewhat dingy neighborhood. It was completely worth the money and effort. Check out the menu – high quality vegan cuisine the likes of which I had never seen. I’m lucky to have such open-minded omnivores in my life.

I had a seitan sausage and root vegetable black pepper crusted pot pie with sautéed brussels sprouts. Glorious!
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Dave got the best portobello mushroom I have ever tasted in my life. Served in a lentil sauce over a brown rice and leek patty, it was crispy on the outside, and so juicy on the inside! Yum!

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We got a complimentary dessert plate from the pastry chef, and then proceeded to exude class and sophistication by forming the remains into a face. 

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After dinner, Ashley took us to the Cairo Nights Hookah Lounge. This little gem actually allows patrons to bring their own alcohol to consume while smoking a hookah. I’m not sure this is entirely legal, but I enjoyed it immensely. It did worry me that the owner, Khalid, seemed to be somewhat drunk and was happily swinging a giant metal ladle full of hot coals throughout the crowded establishment, but the experience was worth the potential danger. Every so often a song he really enjoyed came on and he would pump up the music, swinging his arms over his head like it was a party. It was really fun, check it out!

On Saturday, we went to wine country! It was amazingly beautiful out there. Zac drove and allowed us to sample wines and enjoy the scenery. It was so relaxing; I recommend it. Not only was it really fun, it was very cheap. We only spent $6 all day, most of the sampling was free.

 

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On Sunday, we took a ferry over to the Rock. It was a bit dreary, but it had a nice creepy effect with the haunting rumors.

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Posted by: bostonk | November 29, 2008

Feels like it just vegan…

This semester flew by; I can’t believe it’s over. I am surprised by how much I have gotten out of my blog. I think it is a great way to create a community of people united by a common topic. It enables you to learn about those topics prevalent to you through people who are informed on those issues. I am a fan of RSS technology. I really like that I am constantly updated with the newest information about my favorite topics. I plan on using my Google Reader after this class is over, to stay up to date on topics that are of interest and importance to me.

I have learned an incredible amount about School Nutrition over the course of the semester. I never knew how political school lunch was until I was able to delve into it through this blog. Often the cost of the food outweighs the potential nutrition students would get from it. In most programs involving free lunches for underprivileged students, you get the USDA deciding what to feed to the children. It is disturbing that the USDA and congress will support agricultural industry interests before the nutrition of our nation’s youth. Schools are bribed; in exchange for free lunches for their poor students they must plaster the school cafeteria with celebrities donning milk mustaches. It really opened my eyes to how corrupt the food industries are, and how their messages truly are everywhere. Not only that, but a teacher can get fired for encouraging students to decide for themselves, and to go against the grain. Who knew that school lunch powers that be were so corrupt?

The question is, how do you get past those obstacles? That I still don’t know. It depends on the school district, what kind of funding they are getting, and a whole slew of socioeconomic issues. That is the worst part; the kids who need the nutrition the most are the least likely to get it. I hope that I can positively affect my future school about it’s school lunch decisions. I will definitely voice my opinion when I get the chance about any legislation.

Above all, I stand by what I have said from the beginning: TRUST NO ONE. Seriously. Not even me. Do your own research, read ingredient labels, and keep in mind that the food industry is just that – an industry. They are still trying to sell you something. Eat well for yourself, in whatever way works for you.

To your health,

Kelly

Posted by: bostonk | November 23, 2008

Dairy Pushers and Freedom of Expression in Schools

My Google Reader snared an article that caught my eye today. An art teacher by the name of Dave Warwak was fired from Fox River Grove Middle School. Apparently he was teaching the students about being kind to animals using a:

“collective art lesson in which a number of students and teachers created and cared for their own companion animal made out of commercially-available marshmallow “Peeps”chick-shape candy. As with school exercises in which students care for “baby” eggs, people at the school personalized their Peeps, spoke to them, and treated them as if they were subjects of a life that were deserving of protection. At the end of the lesson, however, Warwak surprised everyone by collecting the marshmallow chicks for a diorama school art exhibit he then created in which the
Peeps candies were represented as locked behind zoo cages, hung on the wall as trophy game heads, squashed as road kill, boiled and fried in pots and pans, and enclosed between slices of bread as sandwiches”

PEEPS Pictures, Images and Photos

Principal Tim Mahaffey accused Warwak of abandoning the curriculum, stating:

“[Warwak] turn[ed] his classroom into a forum on veganism. The problem was when it turned into a PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] advertisement and it was against the school lunch program.”

I found this statement interesting, because to me it seems like a red flag of endangerment to freedom of speech. Since when is it not allowed to discuss alternatives to what schools happen to serve because they went with the lowest bidder? Also, it is easy to relate something to PETA when you want to make people feel alienated: I’m vegan and I’m alienated by PETA because of their extreme views and actions. Using that stigma against a teacher trying to teach children about a vegan diet seems biased. Besides, it is very rare that this lifestyle is portrayed in a positive light in the first place.

After these allegations, Warwak replied that part of teaching art to students is to get them to think about life and to have them connect their creativity up to the social issues that they care very deeply about. He then turned his sights on asking for the removal of the National Dairy Council’s “Got Milk?” and other promotional posters which adorned the lunch room walls, and when the school’s cafeteria manager refused to take them down, Warwak and his students posted their own vegan posters satirizing the issue. He also began a more public campaign to raise consciousness about the quality of school lunches being fed at the school, which resulted in his dismissal.

I found this to be very telling:

Like all public elementary, middle and high schools, Fox River Grove is only eligible for National School Lunch Program reimbursements if it promotes consumption of dairy products, including by putting up life-sized celebrity milk endorsement posters. These posters are sent unsolicited to schools by the National Dairy Council.

Richard Kahn, PhD accurately sums up the perverseness of this bribery:

“Not only at Fox River Grove Middle School but also in thousands of schools across the country, corporate agribusiness has run amok in the attempt to utilize public education as a place to establish the naturalization of commercial meat and dairy as lifelong eating habits, to generate increased sales, to subsidize the food industry against decreased producer prices, as well as to funnel below-health standards food not fit for public sale. Warwak was correct to demand the riddance of the Dairy Council’s posters as they had in fact already been targeted for removal from approximately 105,000 public schools by the Federal Trade Commission.”

So, let me get this straight. They fire a teacher for allegedly turning his classroom into a “PETA advertisement”, because it goes against all of the pro-dairy life-sized celebrity milk endorsement posters and other advertisements in the lunchroom. It is outrageous that the USDA practically bribes schools by offering aid for school lunch IF the schools advertise for the Dairy Council. Until I started writing this blog, I never realized how political school lunch really is. I find it very alarming.

Schoolteacher Fired for Recommending Students Eat Plant-Based Diet
by David Gutierrez
October 29, 2008
Full Article

Towards an Animal Standpoint: Vegan Education and the Epistemology of Ignorance
by Richard Kahn, PhD
October, 2008
Full Article

Posted by: bostonk | November 20, 2008

SNA Releases Back to School Nutrition Trends Report

Through Ebsco I found an article that reviews the findings of the School Nutrition Association’s 2008 Back to School Nutrition Trends Report. It records the ways that school lunches are getting healthier, what options schools are considering healthy, etc. I was curious to see the findings. This year it looks like whole grains were a main focus:

Increasing the availability of whole grain products was the most popular response for the second straight year, cited by 85% of school nutrition directors describing food and nutrition efforts in place in their school districts. Reducing or limiting trans fats showed a sizeable increase in popularity since 2007, up to almost 82% from 73%.

I am very glad that many students are getting access to whole grains, and not being stuck with Wonder bread. However, I would like to see more fruits and vegetables. To my delight, a lot of schools have been “going green”

Consistent with the larger food service trend, “going green” is also taking root in school nutrition programs. Energy efficient equipment is the most common eco-friendly practice adopted by school nutrition programs, cited by 43%. Recycling followed closely (almost 39%), and at least one in five districts has adopted locally sourced food/supplies or green cleaning products. Eco-friendly practices are quite common, with 75% of the districts reporting at least one practice in place.

I am very happy to hear this. I am a huge advocate of eating locally. The farther your food has to go to reach you, the more preservatives it probably has in it. While there are some good trends showing up in the report, there is also a drawback:

According to SNA, the continued emphasis on healthy options, which often are more expensive, is becoming more challenging as school nutrition programs face a wide range of rising costs. For example, the report found that over 97% of school nutrition director respondents expect to experience increased food costs for the 2008-2009 school year, with 84% stating expected increases for labor costs, 94% for transportation/fuel costs and almost 67% for indirect costs.

It still blows my mind that foods laden with chemicals and additives are less expensive than straight up, unaltered food. However, I do realize that it is a very real problem, and that low-income schools are getting hit the hardest. Therefore they are getting the worst nutrition offered to them because they need the free-lunch programs, which in turn force children to eat food that are financially beneficial to the USDA, not that are best for the children. Bottom line: It’s nice to see improvements in the schools that can afford them, but at the end of the day, school lunch is a rich man’s game.

SNA Releases Back to School Nutrition Trends Report
Curriculum Review Vol. 48, Issue 2
October 2008
Full Article

Posted by: bostonk | October 20, 2008

Q & A with the School Nutrition Association

I decided to try an Ebsco search for a more academic based topic this time. I found a really interesting interview in the American School Board Journal: Q &A with Katie Wilson, president of the School Nutrition Association –  “a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country”. Not only is she the president of the School Nutrition Association, but she is also the food service director for Wisconsin’s School District of Onalaska. I like it when people who represent children on any topic have experience with what they are talking about. How refreshing. She really seems to understand the struggle between nutrition and cost that most school districts are dealing with:

She makes sure that the district’s 2,800 students get healthy, low-fat, low sugar meals and that the students actually will want to eat the meals. This must be done at virtually no cost to the district, despite spiking food and fuel prices and inadequate reimbursements from the federal government.

I’m so glad to see that she is concerned about these aspects of school nutrition. The article went on to ask her some interesting questions.

Every year, your organization lobbies each member of Congress. What do you tell them?

“It’s about priorities. It’s time now that we say, “This is part of the educational day.” We know that a child who is well-nourished learns better. So why we continue to fight this battle is really frustrating. We don’t ask a child what their income level is when they get on a school bus, or when we give them a textbook, or when we put them in a brand-new chair in a brand-new building. That’s part of the educational process. And proper nutrition has to be part of that as well—and it needs to be funded.”

This is true – so much school funding goes to other things, like buildings, new books, new furniture and equipment – it is scary that something as fundamental as nutrition is being overlooked in favor of a good deal on less than desirable food for our students. However, with the economy in a slump, how do schools make the compromise between low cost and health? She offered one idea about cutting costs on lunch products, not food:

“Prices go down if you purchase in volume. Perhaps school districts could build a small warehouse or a small addition to a warehouse for something like paper goods. If a small district could purchase differently—that’s where a professional director comes in—and, instead of buying paper products on a weekly basis bought all paper products for the year at one time, they could put out a bid at much lower prices. But you have to store it. And so a lot of districts large and small have begun to join forces and [bid together]. This has been very productive.”

This is a proactive idea that helps ease a school’s budget without influencing money spent on actual food. I’m really impressed with her ideas, and I hope that decisions  about school lunches are being made by people with experience and understanding of the problem.

Q &A with Katie Wilson, president of the School Nutrition Association
American School Board Journal
October 2008
Full Article

Posted by: bostonk | October 19, 2008

The Hot Dog Wars

There is a war going on, right on your television screen. No, it’s not Obama vs. McCain. It’s target is…hot dogs? A new organization, the Cancer Project is causing some major controversy over it’s new “Protect Our Kids,”T.V. spot. They are urging the USDA to remove hot dogs (and other processed meats) from school lunches. Currently, the USDA includes processed meat products as a reimbursable item for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program.

Susan Levin, a dietitian said:

“The ad is based on a comprehensive report released late last year by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. After reviewing all existing data on nutrition and cancer risk, scientists concluded that processed meats increase one’s risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily. That’s about the size of a typical hot dog.”

Scary. However, there is a strong reaction from the other side.

Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council and the group’s “Queen of Wien” (does that seem really dorky, or is that just me?) was quoted as saying:

“The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is an animal rights organization, and their objective is a vegan society,”

Riley said the committee’s video ads, which feature a child saying he has colon cancer, is spreading fear.

“My 8-year-old son now thinks that hot dogs cause cancer, and it’s appalling and misleading,” Riley said.

I’m not sure how I feel about this campaign.  I can see both sides. I mean, I don’t eat meat myself because of the health risks, so I can definitely relate, but at the same time the focus and tactics seem so extreme. I also have a hard time being concerned about Riley’s son having misconceptions about hot dogs, when I’m sure the “Queen of Wein” want to continue to rake in money from hot dog and sausage sales.

I did a little research on my own. I didn’t find much linking colon cancer and meat eating, but I did find some on stomach cancer:

Prevention

Although it may not be possible to prevent stomach cancer, the following steps can help reduce your risk:

Avoid nitrites and nitrates. These nitrogen compounds are known to contribute to stomach cancer. They’re found primarily in processed meats — bologna, salami and corned beef, for instance — and in cured meats such as ham and bacon.

Limit smoked, pickled and heavily salted foods. These have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. Countries where the consumption of smoked, pickled and salted food is high have correspondingly high stomach cancer rates.

Limit red meat. Eating large amounts of red meat — particularly when it’s barbecued or well-done — increases your risk of stomach cancer. Instead, choose fish or poultry.

This shows that there are risks associated with meat, from a reputable source. I firmly believe that you should trust no one about what you put in your body: research for yourself!

Lastly, here is the ad in question:

I find the ad to be a little alarmist. I fear that it’s heart is in the right place, but that it might backfire because it’s so extreme (a la PETA…Why do you have to make vegans everywhere look crazy? Why?) What do you think?

Group urges schools to drop hot dogs from lunch menus
By Dana Hull
October 16, 2008
Full Article

Solid science backs anti-hot dog TV spot
by Susan Levin
September 8, 2008
Full Article

Stomach Cancer: Prevention
by Mayo Clinic Staff
April 9, 2007
Full Article

Posted by: bostonk | October 12, 2008

Underground Railroad in Michigan – A Teaching Opportunity

I attended The Underground Railroad in Michigan – A Decade of Discoveries Conference at GVSU’s Pew Campus last weekend. The session I found to be applicable and engaging to my future classroom was: “Underground Railroad History for the Public: Tours and Museums”, and featured panelists Donna Odom, Reverend Lottie Jones-Hood, Dona Stokes-Lucas, and Michael Evans.

I realize that this is a history topic, and I am going for English, but I think that one of the beautiful things about English is that is can act as a window into a plethora of other subjects making for a well rounded learning experience.The Underground Railroad is a fantastic topic to cover, especially for a look into local history. I feel that local history can be more personal to students, because the events took place not far from where they live. I learned that Battle Creek was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Several options were discussed in detail for field trips with students.

  • The first option, presented by Donna Odom, was offered through the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Many schools visit for the day to do workshops and learn. They also do a program called History Detectives for middle schools in Kalamazoo that involve hearing stories from elders of their community. I think that this is a fantastic way to gather oral history – straight from the source. This could be done in any community to engage students in a local history curriculum.
  • Reverend Lottie Jones-Hood presented The Living Museum of the First Congregational Church of Detroit. The church has created a museum in their 6,000 foot cellar. Students are met and given a slave bracelet and divided into groups with one “conductor” and 10 escapees. The groups are then led through a one hour tour, simulating stops on the Underground Railroad and include swamps and other realities of the trip.  The actors at each stop offer information about the specific stop and historical figures who were once there, tying it into the story as they continue on their journey north, ending with the Detroit River at midnight, where the escapees are “free at last”. They also have a handicap accessible facility.
  • Dona Stokes-Lucas told about Tours that are offered by Indiana Freedom Trails, Inc. Dona used to be an account executive at Discover card, and found that it wasn’t what she truly wanted to do. So she combined her marketing experience with her love of history in working for Indiana Freedom Trails. These tours offer information about local history and also include stops with characters in time period clothing. One thing I liked about Dona was that she spoke of the importance of getting feedback after these tours to make sure the point was getting across. If I am going to take my students on a tour, I want to know that it is worth the trip.
  • Michael Evans spoke about the programs offered by the Sojourner Truth Institute of Battle Creek. Battle Creek was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and this program showcases this local history for the community. This is a three hour tour (sans Gilligan, don’t worry) that visits thirteen different sites to tell the story of Sojourner Truth. A lot of research went into this to make sure that the logistics make sense. Trained guides use scripts to tell their story and engage the community in this “living history drama troupe”.

I think that these interactive experiences can make for some fabulous writing prompts, especially the living museum in Detroit, because it gives kids an idea of what the journey was actually like. Kids could write a historical fiction piece about what it was like to escape slavery through the Underground Railroad. There aren’t any limits to this, they could use poetry or short stories or whatever they feel inspired to do. It is a great way to connect local history and writing skills. To be accurate, I think that the students should be encouraged to do research or perhaps even read other journals or historical fiction of people involved in the Underground Railroad. I think that keeping it local is important to keep the work personal to students, knowing that these events took place in their own stomping grounds.

Posted by: bostonk | September 22, 2008

Child Nutrition Act and Corny Advertising

I recently stumbled upon the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (“A committee of Doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion”) website.

The Child Nutrition Act will be reauthorized in the year 2009. The PCRM is urging people to contact the USDA with suggestions, which you can do here until October 15, 2008.

These are the following demands that PCRM had for the USDA in reauthorizing this legislation:

* Nondairy beverage alternatives should be available and reimbursable without a note wherever cow’s milk is provided. Offering all students a nutritious nondairy beverage will reduce saturated fat consumption and increase overall program participation. The USDA should appropriately increase reimbursement for nondairy alternatives so that providing these options will not be more costly to schools.
* Plant-based meal options should be available every day, as trailblazing states such as California, Florida, Hawaii, and New York have already required. Whether a student consumes a vegetarian diet or chooses an occasional vegetarian meal, experts agree that plant-based foods are healthy choices for all children.
* Plant-based commodity foods should be readily available to schools. The USDA should provide schools with more fresh fruits and vegetables and plant-based entrées to help meet the demand for these healthful foods. The USDA and Congress should shift federal subsidies so that they support child health rather than agricultural interests.

I’m pretty happy with these demands. I know first-hand how frustrating it can be to get caught with your pants down in the food department (like at work last Sunday when Kirkhof’s freezers were broken and I didn’t have access to the vegan burrito I was counting on). Life can get busy and sometimes you don’t have time to plan ahead for bringing food with you. I agree with the PCRM that all students should be able to take advantage of their school lunch options, no matter what their “ethical, cultural, and religious practices [are] as well as food allergies and intolerances.”

Reflecting on the demands of the PCRM, I especially find the last point interesting. “The USDA and Congress should shift federal subsidies so that they support child health rather than agricultural interests.” This brings to mind an interesting development as of late. Have you seen the ridiculous commercials promoting High Fructose Corn Syrup? If you haven’t check out this YouTube Video:


Not only is this commercial condescending and strange, it is sponsored by the The Corn Refiners Association. It always sends up a red flag for me when you see advertisements for things you don’t actually buy directly. In fact, HFCS is in the majority of foods that Americans buy anyway. I tried researching High Fructose Corn Syrup and didn’t find much. However, Mayo Clinic did offer this information:

Despite the lack of clarity in research, the fact remains that Americans consume large quantities of high-fructose corn syrup in the form of soft drinks, fruit-flavored beverages and other processed foods. These types of foods are often high in calories and low in nutritional value. This fact alone is reason to be cautious about foods containing high-fructose corn syrup.

To reduce high-fructose corn syrup in your diet, read food labels. Avoid or limit foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Some other easy tips for cutting back on high-fructose corn syrup include:

* Buy 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks.
* Choose fresh fruit instead of fruit juices. Even 100 percent fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar.
* Choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup.
* Cut back on soda.

That makes it simple: avoid sugary and processed foods, which is common sense anyway. The main point I wanted to bring up is to TRUST NO ONE (not even me) about what you are putting in your body. Read ingredients and nutrition facts, and be informed about your own needs. I think that is an important aspect of children buying school lunch: they should have an opportunity to make informed decisions about what they are eating, (hopefully) without having to brown bag it.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Why is it so bad for me?
by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., Mayo Clinic
April 5, 2007
Full Article

PCRM Action Alert
by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Full Article

Posted by: bostonk | September 21, 2008

Nutrition Vs. Food Costs

The California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) and Samuels & Associates (S&A) released a study this month that was designed to determine “the impact of the federal child nutrition commodity program on the nutritional quality of school meals, particularly those served in California.”
This study caught my eye when this article came up in my Google Reader, especially because I plan on teaching in California. I did a little research, and discovered that the aim of this federal program is to provide “cash reimbursements for meals served in schools and other child nutrition institutions.”

Let’s delve into the findings, shall we?

“…in California more than 82 percent of the entitlement dollars spent on commodities ordered by school districts went to meat and cheese items, both relatively high in fats and saturated fats. By comparison, fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, and legumes amounted to 13 percent”.

Meat and cheese? This sounds like a Burger King commercial. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are contributed to eating too much meat and cheese. I really hope these kids can at least round out their diet in what they eat at home.
The study went on the suggest changes that need to be made:

“Dietary Guidelines for Americans should be reflected in School Meal Initiative Standards, and schools should have to meet them. Efforts to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables and decrease the amount of meats and processed foods purchased for school meals would contribute to providing students with much healthier foods.”

I find it sad that programs designed to help feed low income people often lack a basis in nutrition – usually whatever is cheapest or more socially accepted is given.
“When you start including more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of green beans in a can, your costs increase,” said Brian Sirianni, assistant superintendent for business in the Ballston Spa school district in Northern New York in a NY Times article last month.

In the epic battle between nutrition and the rising costs of food, I fear for the good guy. There may still be hope for nutrition, according to another article I found. Heather Mills, ex-wife of Beatle Paul McCartney dropped a million dollars to donate Vegan foods to people in the community of Hunts Point, in the Bronx yesterday. The area has one of New York’s highest rates of childhood obesity and asthma. One resident was quoted as saying, “”We need more people like her around here.” Check out the article here.

The Federal Child Nutrition Commodity Program
September 2008
Full Study

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