Archive for Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free State chef serves lesson on nutrition

A Lawrence second grade class learned Tuesday about ways to make lunch a little healthier and nutritious.

November 11, 2009


The main item on the menu for a Lawrence second-grade class on Tuesday was the value of what they were eating.

Rick Martin, the executive chef at Free State Brewing Co., served up a hearty lesson for the Deerfield School students.

“It’s been a couple generations that we’ve really lost the association with our food coming from soil and its origins,” Martin said, “and I think it’s important for kids to know what they’re eating.”

The meat of his talk focused on the need to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which governs school meal programs.

“I want to make more parents, teachers (and) people in the community aware of what it means,” Martin said about the act, “and how it can impact what our kids are eating in schools based on nutrition and maybe even incorporating local foods through our local farmers and growers.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to look again at the Child Nutrition Act in early 2010. Martin agrees with Slow Foods USA, a nonprofit group, in wanting to add several provisions to the act. One suggestion is to find funding to give school lunch programs $1 more per child per day.

“That would give each individual school a lot more power to make these lunches better,” Martin said.

After discussing healthier lunch options, the second-graders wrote letters to members of Congress from Kansas asking them to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act.

“I believe that the importance is that they are in second grade, and they have like 10 more years of eating school lunches,” said Pam Mitchell, a Deerfield second-grade teacher. “Sometimes it takes a letter-writing project or letter writing to people that are making decisions to make a difference.”


ohgeeze 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow. How mean spirited can you get? Mrs. Mitchell is probably one of the finest 2nd grade teachers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. You are quite the opposite of what your name implies.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Hats off to Free State Brewing Company.

The Community Mercantile offers similar services.

How else will people know?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and "food products" takes work. His tip: "Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

'Not Too Much'

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we're just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says "has failed us when it comes to food, by and large," and more on culture.

"Cultures have various devices to help people moderate their appetite," he says. "Once upon a time, there was scarcity. We don't have that anymore; we have abundance. But if you go around the world, you find very interesting tricks and devices."

One is small portion sizes, Pollan says. "The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don't get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don't have seconds, they don't snack."

In Okinawa, Japan, a cultural principle called "Hara Hachi Bu" instructs people to eat until they are just 80 percent full, Pollan says. "You do know when you are full, and the idea of stopping eating before you reach that moment … if you do that, you will actually reduce your caloric intake quite a bit," he says.

'Mostly Plants'

Finally, eating plants is very important, Pollan says. "There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us," he says.

But can you follow Pollan's advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?

"You're going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both," Pollan says. "And I think that's just the reality.

It's really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I'm arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.

"And if we don't, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road.

We're either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we're going to change the way we eat.

I mean, it's really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it's heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we're eating.

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