Recently I was asked by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Team to write a post about the Food Revolution. Who, me? Mom/food blogger to write about food and the effect on our future generations? Needless to say, enthusiastic doesn’t describe how I felt. As I jumped into research and e-mails from Jamie’s camp, I quickly became heated with our nations food/health crisis and our views on food today. The current model with big corporations cramming unhealthy pathetic food down our throats for profit and telling us that it’s good for us is sickening. As a nation, our health and our children’s futures are at risk and we need to change. This isn’t about telling you what to do or how you should live. I just want to tell you the facts of what has become of our relationship with food, how it is affecting our children, and what this amazing food revolution can do for our society as I see it.
For those of you that haven’t heard, a revolution is underway. A food revolution, that is; and it’s been fired up by Jamie Oliver, world-class chef and now food warrior. He’s in America to help those who have tried so hard to change our nation’s love affair with processed food and light a fire under our government’s arse to change our school lunch programs.
I don’t need to tell you obesity is one of our nation’s fastest growing health problems. We spend $147 billion dollars on obesity related healthcare a year. Smoking, by comparison, costs $96 billion annually. Obesity is one of the nation’s leading cause of premature death and the percentage of obesity is on the rise. In a recent article, Facts in Fat 2009 from Trust for America’s Health states:
Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.
Our infatuation with over-processed pre-made meals, lack of nutritional education, and food prices (more expensive for fresh food than processed) is to blame. We have a problem when it is cheaper and easier to reheat a package of frozen pizza that’s high in sodium, fat and preservative chemicals for $2 to feed a family than it is to cook an easy healthy meal for $10-20. As we all know, it’s hard to avoid the easy way out–especially if you don’t know the other path. How do we expect to change and become a healthy nation when the majority of us know no other way to live?
The answer is with our children. The next generation’s health is declining and we need to change this immediately. Get this–the percentage of obese children is at or above 30% in 30 states. That’s nearly 1 in 3 children and as of last year the preschool obesity rate was 12.6%. Preschool!!! Type 2 Diabetes is at an all time high in children and the sad fact is that today’s generation of children are predicted to be the first which will die at a younger age than their parents due to obesity-related bad health. Check out your state’s adult and child obesity rates here.
32 million children are being fed by our schools daily. Currently, taxpayer dollars are being used to give those children a diet of processed ,unhealthy food. Efforts are finally being made to correct years of fattening, chemical-laden food in our schools, but according to a report issued by the USDA last year fewer than one-third of schools meet the recomended standards. Cheap nuggets, fries and snacks have no place in the school system. A recent Time magazine report stated a typical Mexican style meal (nachos, mexican rice, refried beans, salsa, orange juice, peaches and a cookie) popular in most schools nationwide has 1,173 calories, 2,o64 mg of sodium and 45g of fat. That’s 49% of a child’s daily calories, 92% of daily sodium intake and 61% of daily fat intake. Why not just place a tub of deep-fried fat in front of our children? It’s the same cost and they wouldn’t know the difference.
Of course, we all like to indulge every once in a while. I’m not saying that a treat for your kids is wrong but it comes down to this: we are teaching our children that it is ok to eat high fat, high sodium, unhealthy food every single day by serving this food in our schools. It’s as simple as that and it is harming them and our nation’s health.
We can change this course by teaching our children healthy ways to eat and getting our government who control our schools food guidelines involved. Right now, Congress is preparing to undertake a new Child Nutrition Act–and I say hallelujah!–but as it turns out, it is only willing to provide $4.5 billion over the next 10 years. That’s not much when you put things in perspective. Ready? That’s a whopping 6 cent increase to the $2 that is spent a day on your child’s nutrition. Are you angry? I am, and my child isn’t even in school yet!
School lunch program reform is a major part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. He has a petition going to raise nutritional awareness and bring fresh wholesome food to our schools. Jamie will be taking this petition to the government to show how many of us truly want a change. When asked if Jamie thought it would be difficult to roll out his campaign in the States, he replied:
I think it will be hard. Unfortunately there are lots of people scattered amongst the food and farming industries that are pushing and protecting outdated beliefs even though they know they are damaging the kids. They don’t want a food revolution. Obesity is big business and I don’t think I’ve even scraped the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even started to get the big guys pissed off as yet. All I’ve done so far is tell a very intimate story about a lovely town. If America really is touched by this show, and if they really do want better for themselves and for their kids then we’re going to see some chaos happening in the next three to six months, and for a few years after that until things change for the better. I don’t think it’s going to take that much to get the things we want to happen. We don’t want to ban French fries or burgers, we just want our kids to eat less of them and to eat real food in schools, and to see people who understand food organizing the meals for our kids. We want the people involved to really care, and to get that we’ll have to shake things up. There’s no other way.
I beg and plead you, if you are fed up with this country’s addiction to processed “fake” food and our government’s sad ideals about school nutrition, then please take a stand and fight. Fight for the health of our children and ourselves. Here’s what you can do:
- Sign Jamie Oliver’s petition to support the Food Revolution. America’s kids need better food at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive.
- Cook. Don’t let cooking become a thing of the past. If you don’t know how, learn; and if you know how, teach. Cooking one wholesome meal for your family can make a difference.
- Talk to your children about what they eat in school.
- Be active in your school lunch programs. Volunteer or become aware of what your school is feeding your children. If you don’t like it or want to know more stand up and ask.
- Know what’s in your food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
- Educate yourself.
Just doing one of these suggestions puts us all on the right path. There is a way to provide great tasting, nutritional, and wholesome food for our children and ourselves at an affordable cost. I have signed Jamie’s petition and I urge you to if you haven’t already. Jamie’s TV show, Food Revolution, will be airing its finally episode this Friday, April 23rd. It has opened the eyes of many. With all of us standing together, we can release the grip that the fast food corporations and processed food industries have on us and win the revolution. Spread the word. Become a food warrior!