"When we give kids chicken nuggets, tater tots, and ten minutes for lunch...we are teaching them how to eat for life."
This was just one of many powerful statements made by Michael Pollan during his three day visit to Madison, WI last week. (Yes, that's him above roaming our city streets.) Michael had many suggestions as we move forward with the food movement, but he placed specific emphasis on the role of teachers, schools, and school lunch programs.
"I think every 9th grader should know how to
roast a chicken before graduating to 10th grade."
That suggestion got roars of laughter from the crowd, but in the seeming absurdity of the statement is the point that if we're going to fix what's wrong with the food system (and thus ultimately what's plaguing our health care system) we need to teach kids about food—how to cook it, how to investigate where it comes from, and how to understand the impact of their choices on their health and the planet as a whole.
With respect to the planet, Michael suggested that perhaps food labels should include their usage or prevented use of fossil fuels and pesticides. It's that whole Maya Angelou concept of "when we know better, we do better". If we are presented with the unavoidable (and yes, sometimes inconvenient) truth about our actions, we will make better decisions. And students will then begin to understand and respect the holistic relationship between food, our bodies, and the earth.
So here's one really cool step in that direction...
Last week, Organic Valley launched a calculator which lets you add up and spread the word about your impact on the planet when you choose their products. The tool calculates synthetic nitrogen prevented as well as pesticides/herbicides prevented. And although this is specific to Organic Valley products, it provides a unique resource to help consumers make the food/planet connection and would be particularly fun for parents and teachers to use with kids.
Yes, Organic Valley is a brand name, but one that I as a parent and consumer health advocate have chosen to get behind. (And if Coke and Pepsi can bombard our schools with their brands, you can bet your sweet buns that the least we can do is level the playing field with socially responsible companies.)
And I have to say, I got a little tingle when my results rolled in...
This entry has been posted as part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.