Let me begin with a personal story. I have been passionate about this topic for quite some time but didn’t feel motivated to write about it here until I took a trip to the grocery store yesterday. After reading ALL of Michael Pollan’s books and watching all of the documentaries dealing with food and health, including Food Inc., which I recommend to everyone, I have learned how to shop. I try to purchase produce based on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen, (a system that instructs buyers on what produce they absolutely need to buy organic based on it’s toxicity levels and what is not necessary if you are shopping frugally) and I try to shop around the edge of the store. Think about the edge of every grocery store you have been in; you have your produce, fresh baked breads, and meat and fish. These are the foods which are the most fresh and have been produced with the least amount of ingredients.
I wanted to make a delicious vegetarian stir-fry and was in need of organic bell peppers, I found the most beautiful yellow pepper and looked up to an astronomical number… $9.98/pound. I weighed my perfect pepper and found that it weighed just below a half a pound. That meant that one bell pepper would have cost $5.00. Now imagine that you have children, are a teacher shopping on a budget as you make between 25,000 and 60,000 depending on your education and experience and need to make a meal for your children. We are making it absolutely impossible for people to create a healthy meal for themselves, free of toxic chemicals on a budget. It is much easier to go to the center of the store and buy 4 bags of processed chips and a liter of soda for that same $5.00. The obesity epidemic is not just about watching what you eat and exercising, it is about educating others and making healthy foods accessible to everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status.
NPR (Recent NPR story that links obesity not only to health but to an uneducated, unemployed nation.)
Obesity is on the rise in our country at an alarming rate. With technology coming at us from all angles now the coverage on it is just as vast and becoming more in your face as the problem grows. Jamie Oliver traveled to the United States to help our public school food system, who are a huge part of the problem. They are being bogged down by budgets and the rules of the district and are choosing ease and quantity over quality. The Food Revolution, which Jamie Oliver stars in, allows us to see the behind the scene problems that schools and families are facing with a bit of cable drama mixed in.
In addition to what is being seen nationwide, others are taking a more serious approach. Documentaries are being made regularly dealing with obesity and more specifically, childhood obesity. Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat is one documentary dealing with the issue. It is well made and very informational. It does not say any more than a Michael Pollan book but the images will remain emblazoned in your mind forever. The opening scene of the movie is hard to watch but is a truth for many American children.
My interest lies in educating children about the problems that they are facing and will be dealing with as adults. If the elementary school in the town that Jamie Oliver was in had a school garden that the children built, planted, and maintained, they would most certainly know the difference between a potato and a tomato. Not only that, but if the students were able to harvest the foods and turn them into beautiful items for consumption, they would understand how food is made and would begin to ask questions for themselves about the food that is available in grocery stores.
To make a difference:
- Join Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
- Petition your school district to make changes in their school lunches
- Educate yourself and make that information accessible to your community
- Plant a community garden
- Help your local school build a garden or if you have a child in school, help their class start a garden and bring in “experts” from the community. Most communities have master gardeners that are REQUIRED to complete a certain amount of community service hours and would love to work with children. Contact them!