Food or Candy given as a REWARD sets our Children up for future FAILURE…

Recently my daughter came home from school on a friday and told me she had a great day because she got candy/treats 7 times that day.  How can that be I asked?  Well it seems she was given candy by the gym teachers (yes, the very ones who are supposed to be educating our children about nutrition and fitness) for scoring a point, the spanish teacher for a job well done, the math helper for working hard, krispy kreme donuts for classroom friday treats sent in by a parent each week, a soda for “pop your top” which is also every friday, and the ice cream she bought in the cafeteria.  Ugh!  Educators are supposed to nurture young minds and encourage and create a positive learning environment.  The more a child is exposed to sweets and candy the more they begin to crave it which leads to a never ending cycle of sugar addiction and a “what’s in it for me” attitude toward academic performance and good behavior.  Schools should be educating children about healthy lifestyles and promoting an environment that supports such a lifestyle.

“Rewarding children with unhealthy foods in school undermines our efforts to teach them about good nutrition. It’s like teaching children a lesson on the importance of not smoking, and then handing out ashtrays and lighters to the kids who did the best job listening.”  Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Co-Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University

What’s a parent to do?

It seems to me the goal of rewarding children is to help them internalize positive behaviors so that over time they will not need a reward. Rewarding children at home or in the classroom does not need to involve candy or food. Experts agree using candy or food as a reward reaches beyond the short-term benefits of good behavior. Rewarding children with candy or food:

• Encourages overeating of foods high in sugar and fat

• Teaches children to eat when they’re not hungry

• Teaches children to reward themselves with food

• Teaches children to connect food to mood

• Contributes to poor health

• Undermines healthy habits

If we value the health and wellness of our children we need to put a stop to this practice of giving kids junk as a way of rewarding good behavior and instead instill and promote positive health habits that will last a lifetime.

Further reading – Joanne Ikeda’s article in  kansas nutrition news and Alternatives to Food as a Reward

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Chef Ann on The National School Lunch Program: Time for a Makeover!

…The nutritional analysis of what we feed our children has led to a system where chicken nuggets, tater tots, chocolate milk with high fructose corn syrup and canned fruit cocktail or even in some cases popsicles are an acceptable meal. Nutrient analysis allows the governing bodies an easy way to access whether a school district is complying with the guidelines, but is a system where the importance of numbers has replaced the importance of food….This is a system that demands a minimum of calories, but not a maximum, which makes no sense in a country where over 30% of the children are over-weight or obese. This extremely flawed system results in agribusiness companies formulating Products (often mistaken as food) that fit the numbers, but has no real relationship to food as we know it, or at least should know it.

Read The National School Lunch Program:  Time for a Make Over in its entirety.

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New DC Pilot Program…requires that each meal contain fruit, vegetables and hormone-free milk; 75 percent of the edible products must be 75 percent or more whole-grain; and grass-fed, local, antibiotic-free meats must be served whenever possible.

On Monday, D.C. Public Schools took its own step in improving school food when it announced the new vendors it has selected to provide more healthful meals for two pilot programs scheduled to begin this fall at 14 D.C. elementary schools. Revolution Foods, a California-based company that serves 25 D.C. schools from a kitchen in Glen Burnie, will provide prepackaged meals at seven schools that are undergoing renovations and have no student lunchroom. DC Central Kitchen will provide made-from-scratch meals such as vegetable stir fries and homemade quiches at seven schools in Northeast Washington.

The pilot programs require both vendors to meet the strict nutrition standards for foods in schools recommended by the Institute of Medicine — the gold standard for healthful school lunches. In addition, it requires that each meal contain fruit, vegetables and hormone-free milk; 75 percent of the edible products must be 75 percent or more whole-grain; and grass-fed, local, antibiotic-free meats must be served whenever possible. The portable-meal proposal also calls for biodegradable packaging.

Read the full article.

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lunchtime is part of the School day

Ecoliteracy.org makes a good point…

Students learn from everything they experience while they are at school—not just in the classroom. In the lunchroom, for example, students form ideas about nutrition and sustainability simply by seeing what food is prepared, how it is served, and how waste is processed. A school that serves nutritious food in commercial-free surroundings and composts kitchen waste teaches very different lessons from those taught by a school that sells junk food and sends its waste to the landfill.

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in the words of the 2010 White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity

“The school environment impacts the behavior, and thus the health and well-being of students…. Children’s choices depend on what is visible and easily accessible; seemingly small differences in the school environment can have large impacts on what children eat.”

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What up with Sustainable Food anyway?

Learning about sustainable food and the problems with factory farming can be daunting, but with a little effort you can quickly learn enough to make the safest and wisest food choices for you and your family.

Here, we introduce you to the major issues surrounding sustainable agriculture and factory farming. Below we’ve provided simple overviews of the issues – click on the headers to read the full report!

Additives

Much of the food we find at today’s supermarkets is highly processed and contains numerous food additives. These substances are used to change the way food tastes and looks (altering the color and texture), to improve the nutritional quality of foods (adding vitamins and minerals), and to increase the food’s shelf life to prevent spoilage.

Air Pollution

Industrial farms produce massive amounts of animal waste that is known to release greenhouse gasses into the air. Aside from the air pollution that comes from farm waste, the industrialized food system also burns significant amounts of fossil fuels to power the trucks that distribute products.

Animal Welfare

As farms have become more industrialized, animals have become more of a commodity. They are considered units of production, rather than living, breathing beings, and as a result these animals are treated inhumanely. But increasingly, more and more consumers are demanding better treatment of animals.

Antibiotics

Because of the crowded and unsanitary conditions on factory farms, animals are often fed low doses of antibiotics. Antibiotics are also used to make the animals grow faster. This is contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is important because ecosystems rely on the interaction of a variety of plant and animal species, and because various breeds of animals and plants have valuable genetic material. Industrial agriculture is one among many unsustainable human activities that has lead to rapid decreases in the world’s biodiversity.

Climate Change

So how is food—supposedly life-sustaining stuff—one of the key factors in an environmental crisis that threatens the basis of life on earth? A big part of the answer is in the rapid and radical twentieth-century transformation of our food system from sustainably based, locally focused production, to a fossil-fuel addicted industrialized system.

Cloning

Cloning of animals used in food production is a controversial issue both because of its ethical implications and the potential threat it poses to human health.

Communities

Sustainable farms provide a welcome alternative to the problems associated with factory farming. Unlike corporate factory farm owners who have very little interest in the condition of local communities, sustainable farmers have a strong connection to their communities and a demonstrated commitment to preserving the surrounding land. In addition, workers on sustainable farms are treated fairly and earn a respectable wage.

Dairy

Dairy foods production is a multi-billion dollar industry, and over the past century it has grown increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few major corporations. This has lead to widespread environmental damage, low standards of animal welfare, and mass production of milk tainted with antibiotics, artificial growth hormones and pesticide residues.

Eat Local, Buy Local, Be Local

Most meals travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to reach your dinner plate. By eating food produced locally, you are helping yourself, the environment and your community.

Economics

Proponents of industrial agriculture claim that large-scale factory farming is the most efficient way to produce huge quantities of inexpensive food and that without industrial agriculture, food prices would be excessively high. But the price of industrial food does not take into account the true costs of production. When these hidden environmental and health costs are factored in, industrial food costs more than sustainable.

Environment

Agriculture has an enormous impact on the environment, but whether the impact is good or bad depends on the type of agriculture used. Sustainable agriculture puts back what it takes from the environment, while factory farming pollutes our air, water and soil.

Factory Farming

Meat and dairy production in the United States has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Small family farms have been replaced by huge livestock facilities, where animals suffer horribly, workers are mistreated, the environment is being destroyed, and where rural communities are falling apart.

Family Farms

Family farmers are being forced out of business at an alarming rate, and hundreds of small farmers sell their land every week. The dramatic expansion of industrial agriculture has made it increasingly difficult for small family farmers in the US, but many small family farms have found hope within the sustainable food movement.

Feed

Animals on industrial farms are fed the cheapest grains and waste products in order to fatten them quickly. This leads to widespread health problems, so low doses of antibiotics are also added to the feed. The result is unhealthy animals and unhealthy food for consumers.

Food Irradiation

Irradiation is used to increase the shelf life of the food so it can travel longer distances and keep for as long as possible. This processing method has not been properly tested for safety and it depletes the vitamin content of food.

Food Safety

The significant corporate consolidation of global food production has created a food system that values quantity over quality. Every single decision a farmer, or corporation, makes about growing or raising a certain kind of food affects the final product. Cutting corners on the quality of animal feed, waste management, level of training for farm workers, processing methods and distribution all contribute to the safety of our food.

Fossil Fuel and Energy Use

Industrial agriculture relies on machinery to produce food and trucks to transport the food throughout the country, and likewise consumes massive amounts of fuel and energy. Sustainable farms work to minimize their energy use, and since their products are bought locally, minimal fuel is burned in order to transport their goods.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering (GE) is the process of transferring genes from one plant or animal to another. The technology has not been properly tested, so no one knows if GE food is safe to eat. Currently, crops are genetically engineered, and some believe that animals are next.

Health

Sustainable foods are healthier than industrial food because of higher levels of “good” fats and nutrients in grass-fed animal products and lower pesticide residues in organic foods. Meanwhile, industrially-produced food is detrimental to our health because it leads to outbreaks of food-borne illness, contributes to antibiotic resistance, and pollutes drinking water.

Heritage and Heirloom Foods

Farmers throughout the world once raised thousands of different animal breeds and plant varieties. However, since today’s industrial farms rely upon only a few specialized livestock breeds and plant varieties, thousands of non-commercial animal breeds and crop varieties have disappeared, along with the valuable genetic diversity they possessed. Fortunately, a growing number of sustainable farmers are preserving agricultural variety and protecting biodiversity by raising “heritage” or “heirloom” animal breeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Hormones

Artificial hormones are implanted in beef and dairy cattle to make them grow faster and produce more milk. The US government claims the hormones are safe, but the European Union has banned hormones because of a possible link between hormones and some types of cancer.

Mad Cow Disease

Mad cow disease is transmitted when one cow eats the brain and spinal tissue of an infected cow. Humans can also contract vCJD (the human form of mad cow) this way, and over 150 people have died from this disease since the 1990’s.

Organic

Organic food regulated by the USDA, and organic farmers must follow specific guidelines in order to label their foods “organic”. For example, animals cannot be given antibiotics or hormones, chemical pesticides cannot be used, and meat cannot be irradiated.

Pasture Raised

Pasture-raised animals spend most of their time outdoors, where they’re able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants as they would in nature. In addition to dramatically improving the welfare of farm animals, pasturing helps reduce environmental damage, and yields meats, eggs, and dairy products which are tastier and more nutritious than foods produced on industrial farms.

Pesticides

Pesticides are sprayed on crops that are fed to farm animals. Residues are stored in the animals’ fat and tissue, and enter our bodies when we eat the meat. Pesticides have been linked to many medical problems.

Policy and Legislation

Current agricultural policy promotes industrial farming and neglects small farmers. In many cases, our tax money goes to support research and operating costs for large food corporations.

Precautionary Principle

Rather than banning the use of new technologies before they’re shown to be safe, our federal agencies allow potentially dangerous products to enter the food supply, putting public health at risk.

Poverty & Hunger

The new development philosophy helps those in poverty help themselves. In both rural and urban areas, individuals are being encouraged (or taking it upon themselves) to take control of their own food security. Urban communities are reclaiming brown-fields and, using sustainable agricultural techniques, are providing their communities with healthful, fresh food while creating small businesses around selling these products to their communities.

rBGH

Artificial bST is produced using recombinant DNA technology (biotechnology), also called Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), and known as rbST or rBGH for short. When injected into cows, rBGH increases milk production 10-15 percent and in some cases up to 40 percent.

Slaughterhouses and Processing

The US meatpacking industry is dominated by a handful of corporations that process massive quantities of meat in huge plants. As a result of inadequate food safety standards and lax inspection practices by the USDA, these corporations are able to operate unsanitary facilities and send out meat contaminated with dangerous bacteria. These facilities are also extremely dangerous, and meat-packing is among the most hazardous jobs in the nation.

Waste

Some industrial livestock facilities produce as much sewage as a small city, but they are not required to treat all this waste. Instead, the waste is held in large pools and spread on farm fields where it often runs off into nearby water systems.

Water

American consumers are drinking more bottled water every year, in part because they think it is somehow safer than tap water. Tap water is generally just as safe, clean, and healthy as bottled water—in many cases even more so. By taking back the tap, you can save money, protect your health, and help prevent environmental and social problems as well.

Water Pollution

The waste from industrial farms leaks into streams, lakes, oceans and ground water with bacteria, antibiotic residue, pesticides and chemical fertilizer. This pollution can lead to the destruction of aquatic ecosystems and contamination of human drinking water.

Workers

Workers on industrial farms and in meat processing facilities work in hazardous conditions, and are underpaid and mistreated.

by Meatrix

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A Shout Out to Ecoliteracy.org for this one…

Healthier Students are Better Students

“Kids’ brains are high-performance engines,” writes Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, “and if we want them to do their best in school, we need to provide them with clean, high-quality fuel. For growing children this means a balanced diet of delicious whole foods, grown in a nutrition-enhancing way without toxic pesticides, and prepared in an appealing manner that also preserves nutrients.” Recent studies indicate that what a child eats directly affects the physical structure of his or her brain, as well as memory, attention, and reasoning skills.

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