Archive for Kids and Food – The Junk Revolution

Hormones in the Milk – Do You Know What Your Kids are Drinking?

This e-mail came to my box tonight, and I could not help but want to pass this information on to others. School lunch issues are items I feel very strongly about, and have been working on in my own city for the last 11 months. We brought Two Angry Moms to Boise last October, and we’re still struggling to get our school district to take us seriously and implement the changes we want made. Please take the time to read this important infomation. Then, act locally and make a difference in your own community! Our children’s health depends on it.

Although the importance of education about the health benefits of consuming raw, organic milk from grass-fed cows, the word is still in the initial stages of getting out, your children can greatly benefit from this fantastic health food.

Unlike pasteurized milk laden with toxins and chemicals, raw milk from a healthy source is replete with friendly bateria (probiotics), and nutrients important for growth and development. To learn more about raw milk, please read this article Why the Consumption of Milk is Harmful to Your Health.

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The food kids eat today will have a lasting impact on their health.  Unfortunately much of the food kids eat today is produced with harmful chemicals, genetically engineered ingredients, and artificial hormones.  We’ve got a great opportunity to affect what kind of milk is in the National School Lunch Program.  Can you take action now to get better milk into school lunches?

Roughly 15 percent of all dairies (mostly large dairies) in the United States inject their cows with an artificial, genetically engineered growth hormone called recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) that increases cows’ milk production. Besides the documented increase of infections in dairy cows injected with rBGH, which necessitates increased use of antibiotics, there are ongoing questions about links to cancer in humans.

Most of the industrialized countries in the world have banned rBGH. But here in the United States, we’re giving it to our most vulnerable citizens—our children! It is possible that at least 84 million gallons of milk from artificial hormone-treated cows were distributed through the school nutrition programs in fiscal year 2005-2006 – or about one out of five pints of milk offered in school cafeterias nationwide.

The good news is this spring we have a great chance to bring milk free from artificial, genetically engineered hormones into our schools as Congress takes up legislation on the National School Lunch Program.

We are asking Congress to clarify that schools do have the option to purchase milk from cows that are not treated with artificial growth hormones. With nearly 430 million gallons of milk distributed through national school milk programs, we have to take action now to get artificial hormones out of our school milk!

Take the first step in expelling the hormones from school milk by signing our petition. We are working with our friends at Food & Water Watch to collect 50,000 petition signatures to deliver to Congress. Can you help CFS gather 10,000 towards that goal?

Our children should not be subjected to risky, unwanted hormones in their school milk. Please tell Congress to take action today!

Thanks for all that you do for True Food!

– From the office of Center for Food Safety.

The Center for Food Safety has initiated landmark legal actions against the EPA and FDA all in the name of preserving  the integrity of the food we eat. This agency promotes and protects the public health by monitoring and checking processes which affect and control our food supply.

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Changing the Face of School Lunches – There’s Still a Lot of Work to Do

Currently, legislation is being introduced into the Senate and House to require regulation of all foods sold in the public school environment in the United States. These bills would allow for the setting of standards for cafeteria food and vending machine purchases made by students. But are these measures going far enough? We think not! Here’s why:

We should be outraged and confused as to why the types of foods that are sold in the lunchroom environments are still being offered – and school lunch officials are boasting of “improvements” made on distributed lunchroom literature calendars – that their foods are now all baked instead of fried, and that they do not allow anything greater than 30 percent of daily calories to include fat. Never mind that the foods available in the lunch-line contain toxic chemicals and additives which cause myriad health issues and disable children from having the best chance, both physically and mentally, of performing and learning to the best of their potential, or the fact that most foods the children are eating are nutritionally devoid of nutrients, but have had synthetic ones added back in. And most importantly, remember that the types of fat, cholesterol, proteins, and calories provided in school lunches do not come from nature – they were never intended for people to consume for food – most of them are engineered by scientists in laboratories to ensure preservation of food, consistency in appearance, and of course, taste.

What’s in school lunches?

Just as one example, read the ingredients on one offering – popcorn chicken – a popular offering at schools around the country:

Chicken Breast with Rib Meat CONTAINING: Up to 20% of a Solution of Water, Salt and Sodium

Phosphates.

BREADED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn flour, Salt, Spices, Leavening

(Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate),

Nonfat Dry Milk, Dried Whey, Soy Flour, Dried Whole Eggs, Sodium Alginate, Partially Hydrogenated

Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Garlic Powder, Mono and Diglycerides and Dried Yeast.

BATTERED WITH: Water, Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Dried Whey, Dextrose, Spices, Salt, Leavening (Sodium

Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Sodium Alginate, Soy Flour, Oleoresin Paprika, Nonfat Dry

Milk, Dried Whole Eggs. Breading set in vegetable oil.

ALLERGENS: EGG, MILK, SOY, WHEAT.

Oh, where to start!  The issues with this one item alone are seemingly unending. What you have here is something so processed and so unnatural, the human body couldn’t possibly benefit from its consumption. If we talked about the soy and vegetable oil alone, we’d be dealing with trans-fat issues, nutrition depletion issues (from the phytic acid in soy), and consumption of too many Omega 6s (cause of inflammation in the body which leads to degenerative diseases). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there’s also the source of the meat, the eggs used, presence of genetically-modified ingredients (corn, soy, wheat), the fact that the milk used is powdered and non-fat…and the list goes on.

What’s the effect?

Health problems experienced in children due to poor diet are beyond serious – obesity, diabetes, immune disorders, cardiovascular disorders, learning deficits (ADD and ADHD) just to name a few. School lunch programs were originally developed over fifty years ago to combat malnutrition, but what this has led up to is an obesity problem of epic proportions. From working on the school lunch initiative here in Boise, Idaho, I know first hand that regulations and rules written to govern the sale of food to children are both limited and antiquated in terms of what is required for children to eat truly healthy food on a daily basis. Until clear and concise legislation is passed, kids will continue to eat highly-processed, chemical-laden, factory-farmed foods.

What’s up in the legislature?

Our local laws, which are intended to regulate legislation for our school districts, clearly don’t do even an adequate job. Representative Lynn Woolsey, (Democrat, California), would require nutritional standard updating and provide authority from the USDA to install different regulations for school food which are supported by federal subsidies. Similar legislation will be brought to the Senate by Tom Harkin (Democrat, Iowa).  There is a good likelihood that this legislation will remove the most glaring foods such as fried, high-sodium, and other processed items. But there is still much more to do about other foods such as the processed milks, cheeses, meats, and baked foods masquerading as “healthier” choices over fried.

This solution has already been implemented in the state of California. In 2007, this state pushed through some of the most stringent regulations ever placed on school food. According to this School Food Policy article, SB12 requires that school snacks sold to children contain no more than 35 percent of fat calories, no more than 10 percent calories from saturated fats, and no more than 35 percent sugar by weight. There is also a calorie limit on all entrees and ala carte items. Wait…why are we still counting calories and fat? Right! Because they are still referring to processed foods in these instances. Until we completely remove all processed foods, calories and fat will continue to remain an issue. No matter how many calories or how much saturated fat are/is restricted, children will not be getting the real nutrition they need until real, whole foods are offered. Reports conclude that even though calories and fat have lowered in the overall school lunch menus, processed foods and unhealthy choices are still to be found in these so-called improvements which hail down from the all-mighty legislature.

This solution has actually been offered and delivered in places like Berkeley Unified School District in California.

What’s holding the rest of the country back?

Hierarchy, embedded, old laws, and unwillingness to change all play a part in our stuck school lunch system.
We need to stand up and take initiative to fight school lunch issues and deal with the following factors:

  • Learning abilities of children are grossly affected by the foods they eat – ADD and ADHD are also on the rise, performance and test scores are adversely affected. A good meal can sustain a child through mental and physical demands that junk cannot!
  • Lacking proper facilities within the lunch room to prepare home-cooked, from scratch meals.
  • Children are still largely unaware of where their food comes from! There must be education, awareness, and hands-on learning opportunities for young people to become familiar with food, preparation, and growing, and harvesting.
  • School gardens placed on campuses can also go a long way toward both education and feeding children.

Take a stand in your own community! Demand that your district join the ranks of progressive districts like Berkeley Unified and change from processed, fast foods to locally-sourced, organic, real food choices. Get involved locally with local growers, your school district, and the legislature. These options are healthier, and in many cases, don’t end up costing the districts more money. It just takes some leg work to establish new contracts and change legislation. But isn’t it worth it for our children’s (and our) future? You’ll be supporting both the health of children, the local economy, and the earth.

For more information on school lunch news, visit Chef Ann Cooper’s site, The Sustainable Table, and Two Angry Moms.

This posted is linked to in Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please take a moment to go and view the other posts listed there.

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You Decide: Is Junk Food GOOD for Children?

Do you believe the news media presents “fear-mongering” tactics in order to get a message across? If so, what types of messages do we believe about health for ourselves? Our children? In our efforts to improve the school lunch programs in this country, we firmly believe processed and junk foods have no place in school, let alone other environments. Why? There are many reasons.

Many “food” products claiming to be healthy are marketed to children. Children don’t perform as well mentally or physically when they consume garbage. Although this 2005 article in the U.K.’s Telegraph reports that children perform better during exams if they eat junk food, opposing research and common sense assume undeniable authority. In July 2008 Web M.D. released a survey with information listing childhood obesity as the #1 health problem in our culture. In April 2008, a CBS report shows how junk food ads on television, directed at children during Saturday morning watching hours, are having a negative effect on children’s beliefs about food and eating habits. A FOX news story reveals how children who eat junk food are slower learners. Common Sense discusses how junk food manufacturers are competing to be the forerunners in sales by using marketing tactics like supporting “green endeavors”, building playgrounds, or creating “healthier, low-fat” junk food selections targeted toward children. In other words, they are using marketing strategies such as replacing sugar with ingredients like Stevia to make consumers believe their products are now healthy to consume.

So what is considered junk food? One individual claims that the term ‘junk food’ is subjective. It is certainly true that depending on who you ask, one person’s junk is another person’s health food. But does that mean if someone says something isn’t junk food that it’s true? Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP maintains a web site called Junkfood Science, and believes there exists a type of a “junkfood hoax”  where news and media present skewed information to the public about junk food being unhealthy to consume. For example, this article titled Weekend food for thought: mythology of health food and junk food tells us that the body doesn’t distinguish between the protein in a sirloin steak with fancy-cut potatoes and a hamburger and fries, or a prosciutto-filled panini and ham on white bread – that it’s basically all the same.

The distinction that must be made of course, is 1) the ingredients used to make these foods and 2) the preparation methods used. I think it goes without saying that anything which is not a whole food is unhealthy to consume, no matter who proclaims it to be a ‘gourmet’ selection or not. Although natural and organic foods are generally priced higher, just because a food is more expensive does not make it a healthy food.  If we don’t ask the following questions we are not really getting to the heart of the issues, such as: what is the origin of the meat? Is the meat organically-grown and pasture-raised, or is it factory farmed? Is the food being injected with unhealthy vegetable oils and deep fried, or is it broiled, seasoned, and topped with a healthy fat like grapeseed oil or organic butter? Unfortunately, these important points are continually muddled by corporations, political agendas, and government entities who capitalize on poor lifestyle habits of consumers by playing on their fears with emotional tactics and persuasive marketing strategies designed to make more profits and make people unhealthier. These are the critical questions that must be asked, and often are completely overlooked.

Ms. Szwarc claims, “In sorting out what ‘junk food’ and ‘health food’ mean, we find that there are no definitions in nutritional science because such ideas are largely political and social constructs. Contemporary, feel-good ideas, rather than rational science. Our bodies are smarter than we are and they really don’t care where they get the nutrients they need. They will break down foods, regardless of their source, to their same basic nutritional elements. Elemental sugars from table sugar or all-natural honey or fruits, for example, are the same thing.”

Basically what is being said is that it doesn’t matter where you get your vitamins and nutrients from, synthetically produced and artificially added back in or not; if you eat a piece of chocolate cake, you are consuming something healthy because the cake is made from “grains”, eggs, milk, sugars, and fruits. No mention is made about the fact that chocolate cake is full of sugar and baked at high temperatures – even if the ingredients used are “all natural” or “organic”. Anything containing such a high amount of carbohydrates and cooked at high temperatures will be rendered almost completely devoid of any nutritional value. It is inconceivable that anyone would try to argue chocolate cake is not unhealthy to eat and that no matter where you get your nutrients from, it’s all the same.

This article on Junkfood Science also discusses attempts made by the media, health industries, and government to dissuade children from eating fat and calories by encouraging them to eat low-fat and non-fat foods. In the battle of childhood obesity, a mother from South Jordan, Utah was awarded $1000 by the The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale for creating a program called “A+ Lunches”:

“It is typical of the menus increasingly being recommended by anti-“childhood obesity” activists. The lunch includes no sweets, no meat and no “fattening” foods, only foods believed to be “healthy”: carrot and celery sticks, a few apple wedges and berries, a small dollop of peanut butter between flower-shaped pieces of bread, and skim milk. The mother tested it on her four-year old. A brief nutritional analysis of this lunch menu revealed that it supplies less than 20% of the energy needs (calories), dietary fats and iron recommended even by the government’s Dietary Guidelines for a typical four-year old, let alone an older school child,” commented Ms. Szwarc.

AS won’t argue with the fact that a diet such as the one described above cannot possibly provide proper nutrition to a preschooler, let alone children of other ages. But when terms like “obesity epidemic” are used to talk about eating healthy diets, many people start to look for dietary sources of disease. To a degree, it is certainly true that the media and health communities alike have succeeded to in creating fear in consumers — because consumers are lied to about what foods are healthy to eat and what foods are not. People are scared to death to eat foods with fat in them. But the issues are being misconstrued. For example, mainstream food and health industries consistently report that foods with excess fat and cholesterol and foods with saturated fats are unhealthy to consume. Then corporations create processed foods and label them with terms such as “low-fat” or “contains no trans-fats” or “no cholesterol” to make consumers think these foods are health foods. Never mind all the chemicals, preservatives, and the manner in which the foods are produced which grossly detracts from its nutritional content. What these entities fail to mention is the fact that what types of foods are being eaten is the real issue.

Children need healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and calories with which to function and perform at optimal levels each day. This means, literally, that they need whole foods – those that are directly from nature with as little processing or tampering as possible. And yes, they need saturated fats and cholesterol — but not just any. The right types are critical. Fats and cholesterol from genetically modified, chemically injected, hormone-laden, factory farm sources simply won’t do our bodies good. If that’s what the medical and health communities are referring to, then they are absolutely correct. But we need to stop appling negative labels to all meats and dairy, as one example.

So, according to what we’ve heard from Junkfood Science, does that mean a hot dog or hamburger with tater tots and oreo cookies is a healthy lunch? What about naturally-raised meat with roasted potatoes, and organic fruit and salad with oil and vinegar? Why or why not? And why are these concepts so difficult to get across to industries and organizations in charge of making changes for children’s diets and health? Why do people persist in thinking that low-fat options are healthy for anyone – especially growing children who need nutrients for brain and physical function and growth and development?

On the same side of the argument, do packaged foods which claim to be healthy because they are “organic” and loaded with Omega 3s (a new hot selling point for foods), vitamins and minerals, and contain “higher levels” of protein than “other leading brands” fall into the category of health food? In most cases, definitely not. These foods are junk food through and through. Just think about it — any food that has had vitamins and minerals removed through processing (such as pasteurized dairy) and then added back in, or has to be enriched in order to make it “nutritious” (such as orange juice with added calcium or breads, cereals, and crackers) should immediately be suspect. Then ask yourself: do you want your children eating “fortified”  artificial foods, or real, whole foods?

Unfortunately, there is an overload of information available about what is healthy to eat and what is not, and making sense of it all is often very difficult. The best rule of thumb to follow when trying to decipher all the jargon and rhetoric about healthy eating is that processed foods will always be processed foods. Simply nothing can replace the nutritional value of whole, unprocessed, natural, organic foods.

We believe that in order to fulfill our goal of servant leadership to our children, we must really serve them. To do this, we must decide to make children the priority. If children cannot perform in school due to nutritional deficiencies, then let’s provide them with the nutrition they need. We can make changes to school lunch menus in ways that do not require raising taxes, but by reallocating current funds. And let’s not stop there — let’s keep going. Everywhere you look there are opportunities for improving the way children eat and perceive their bodies and food. Take the food challenge and help our kids by doing the following:

  • Avoid buying processed foods and replace with whole, real foods.
  • Support local agricultural efforts that use sustainable methods in farming.
  • Get active in your community and spread the word — be a voice for change about an issue that really matters.
  • Cut out refined sugars as much as possible from your family’s diets — and think, really think about whether you are continuing to purchase products that have refined sugars in them. Some are not as obvious as others. Be a food sleuth!

To make a donation to the school lunch initiative in Boise, Idaho where we are bringing Two Angry Moms to our city, please see our contact information on the main page of this site under Upcoming Events. We need your support to fund our film event efforts and to take us beyond to reaching our goal of making our children’s health a priority!

In honor of our school lunch initiative, go and take a look at this menu for one month of school lunches in the Boise School District. After looking at this menu, ask yourself whether the food falls under the category of healthy or junk.

For more information on eating whole foods, visit The Natural Path.

For a discussion about ancient wisdom concerning children’s health, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation web site.

Suggested reading: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon, Mary G. Enig.

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