Thursday, August 21, 2014

Government's "Healthy" Snacks

There's a lot of fuss in the news recently about the new federal standards for lunch programs. Most recently, I came across this article in Mail Online--which, interestingly, is a British news source-- about teens protesting the new vending machines popping up in their schools here in the U.S., entitled Thanks Michelle!

It doesn't bother me that teens are protesting healthy food choices. Kids will be kids. What bothers me is that Mrs. Obama believes General Mills cereals like Cheerios, Coco Puffs, and Trix (see article photo) are somehow healthier than M&Ms, Oreos, and Doritos. If nothing else, this illustrates why people who have no comprehension of nutrition should not be in charge of school lunches. Her intentions may be well-meaning, but the practical application of those intentions is being grossly misapplied.

Processed food is more or less bad for you, but processed cereals like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Trix--to name just a few--are some of the worst. Every shred of nutrition that might have once existed in the raw materials from which boxed cereal is made has been cooked, bleached, and extruded away until what remains is a tasteless scum of cardboard-like matter that is then loaded with artificial colors, flavor enhancers, preservatives, synthetic vitamins and other chemicals, formed into pleasant looking shapes, baked until the vitamins are destroyed, and then packaged in a box covered with smiling cartoon characters and honest-sounding claims of how healthy you will be if you eat it. Adding injury to insult is the fact that many of these cereals start out with grains that are GMO - genetically enhanced with pesticides.

I'm all for getting rid of vending machines full of unhealthy snacks in schools. But instead of replacing them with vending machines full of a different type of unhealthy snacks, why not provide a snack bar where students can purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and so forth. That would be an honest effort at "healthy." But healthy is not really the goal. If it were, we would expect to see some measure of success along the way, however small. Instead, the government dietary guidelines seem to be producing a population of undernourished sick people-- from infancy through old age (if we make it that far!)

You and I have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children to learn about food, health, and nutrition. When we open our eyes, read labels, and research how food products are made, we empower ourselves to make good choices. We don't need Mrs. Obama or the government to tell us what is healthy and what is not. We have brains and, with a little effort, we can learn how to use them.

When our kids eat a hearty breakfast and lunch, they probably don't need vending machine snacks anyway. What it comes down to is-- are they getting dense nutrition in their regular meals? Filling up on nutritionally empty boxed cereals with low-fat milk or pastries in the morning sets them up for hunger about an hour later. Add to that a "federal" lunch of over-processed foods that have no flavor and no real nutrition and it's no wonder the kids are heading to the vending machines. They're starving!

The solution is not federal school lunch regulations. The solution is parents taking back the very important task of feeding their family. It's YOUR job, not the government's. Good nutrition is the foundation for good health. It's necessary for physical strength, growth, brain health, and proper hormone function.

Providing good food for our children is a labor, but it's a labor of love. And nobody loves your kids like you do. Neither the government, nor the educators, nor the school lunch staff care whether or not your kids are healthy. Don't leave the most important things in the hands of people who don't care.

Feed your kids nutrient-dense foods and they won't need the vending machines. Bypass the school lunches and send them a lunch composed of tasty homemade food--enough to last the day. Vending machines will become a non-issue.