Who is poisoning the kids?

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who is poisoning the kids?
By Tracy Williams
Our kids are being poisoned, slowly, but none the less, their lives are being shortened — but at the hands of whom?
This generation will be the first in our nation to live shorter lives than their parents. Why? Poisoned food.
Who is killing our kids? We as a nation. Even if parents are doing all the right things at home, which a majority of us are not, then the culprit is the lunch ladies at our schools.
But, don’t blame the lunch lady! She is there to prepare and serve and not to blame for the unhealthy mess that is being served as so-called food to our children.
Can we blame the USDA regulations which are suppose to be watching out for the nutrition values of the food products served on a lunch plate? Can we blame the administration who cuts the cost of food for books? Should our kids be overweight but smarter?
This is a serious problem. Have you checked out the kids lately? Can we put all the blame on video games and television and leave it at that? No, this is a multi-layered issue. For now, let us focus on the junk that is labeled as food in which we feed our kids at school, at fast food restaurants, and at home.
Jamie Oliver is my new hero. Have you watched his Food Revolution show on ABC? Not only, did I watch it, but I encouraged my twins to watch and they were fascinated as well.
If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about a British chef with a passion to improve our children’s school lunch from something that has as much value as cardboard to something made from real chicken parts and maybe some green leaves.
This is not a revolution that can happen over night. You can’t throw out the chicken nuggets, pizza and sugary cereal and expect your kids to sit down for dinner consisting of spinach salad and grilled salmon and not protest.
Jamie met resistance from the lunch ladies right at the start because their jobs were easy when using the chemically produced food in which they basically reheated and served. It takes work to actually prepare and cook fresh food and that made life harder on them. One hostile lunch lady couldn’t see anything wrong with the food. And there is our problem.
As parents, as lunch ladies, as a nation, we look at a chicken nugget and think its food. It looks like food and it taste alright, so it must be okay to ingest in our bodies. No one wants to question the easy route. What does continually disregarding the eventual effects of processed chemicals do to our bodies when we get older?
Some of us only wake up, when the doctor says words like, “Diabetes or cancer.”
The most powerful visual on this new show was when Jamie took a whole chicken and in front of several young children cut off the good parts, such as legs, wings, and breasts and left the carcass. He took the bony, gooey leftover carcass and all the skin and dumped it into a blender, after adding some filler and salt he then rolled the paste of chicken carcass into little patties, battered and fried the nasty looking stuff and asked the kids who would eat it? They all did. We have lost the war.
This childhood obesity has been on the radar now for years, yet parents still feed their kids French fries, pizza, and nuggets every day. Where do you stand? Write down what your child has eaten this past week and see how you measure.
I at least make an effort. We do pizza once a week, it’s a treat. Just as French fries are an occasional side order and our chicken at home is bought fresh and uncooked. All my boys will eat salad but only one will eat broccoli willingly.
I am proud that the Pearl River County school systems several years ago were on the ground breaking solution for the childhood obesity problem and with a grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, partnered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation were honored by Governor Barbour for their innovative and new school model to combat this problem. At least it’s a step and an admission that the issue exists and something seriously needs to be done to salvage our kid’s futures.
We have to educate the parents, the kids, and push the schools to feed our kids real food.
Zach, my eldest, began his life with fresh strawberries, whole grains, as little process food and this was 23 years ago. I lost him when he quit taking his lunch to school and began eating the school lunch. Did I know he was opting for the hamburger line and sometimes purchasing two orders of French fries? His eating habits went into the toilet and he as a young man is trying to make healthy choices again. It is hard after years of bad habits.
We must wake up. The school lunch is not only killing our kids but if the same food is being served at home then what hope is there for the health of our children.
Introduce new and improved choices at home. Eating cheap foods isn’t cheap in the long run if your kid has to visit the doctor, or start insulin shots.
What’s cheaper: a bunch of bananas or a bag of chips? Grocery stores now offer wheat bread at the same price as white bread. It may take more prep time to cook fresh green beans, but a five minute fry can be a shortened life in the long run.
Time isn’t our enemy, we make time for things that are important such as hair appointments and our favorite television shows. A kid eating a green salad may take many attempts but as an adult they will thank you in the end.
Check out your pantry, empty some of the junk and replace it with a few healthier choices. When kids actually get hungry, and believe me, they only think they are hungry, but they will be more obliged to eat good food.
Kudos to Jamie Oliver, the Brit who has come to save our kids and good luck, because the battle of ignorance is a tough one. Lifestyle changes actually work. Let us brain wash our kids in a good way for a change!
What part of the chicken is in a nugget again? Oh yeah, the part that goes in the garbage.
Tracy Williams is a syndicated columnist and can be reached at myhometowncolumn.com

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