Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Melee: Weighing in on kid's issues

Which means to say I am not only weighing in on kid's issues but also issues involving parents, teachers, and the general public.

This past week I saw three different topics I wanted to cover:  New York City taking sugary drinks and candy off the approved list for food stamps, gardening as a "snooty" sport, and healthy snacks shouldn't be offered for Halloween.

Topic One:  The Food Stamp Ban on Sugary Drinks and Candy
My first job was at a grocery store in Oklahoma City.  I worked in the bakery first (Lord, the temptations of freshly glazed donuts!) and then transitioned to working as a check out girl.  This was the first time in my life that I saw a food stamp being used.  What always surprised me was the type of foods that were bought on food stamps:  Fruit punch, chicken thighs, American Cheese.  The users typically bought junk items with the food stamps and bought "real foods" with cash.  As a high schooler I thought this was odd, and I still think this is odd, because junk food was always a luxury type product in my household.  We didn't get sodas except for school field trips or for slumber parties-- soda was not apart of our daily diet.  Just like McDonald's was a once a month treat, not a daily necessity because it was cheap.

Both of my parents worked, my mom sometimes working two jobs, to provide my sister and brother and I a middle class lifestyle.  My mom was innovative in her eating habits:  Skim milk, whole wheat breads, home cooked meals with salads and fish.  Part of my after school chores was helping to get dinner ready by prepping veggies, getting all the necessary components set up and what not so my mom could put it all together when she got home from work.  I can't even imagine my mom going through a drive through and getting us dinner.  Because we didn't have a ton of money we didn't spend unnecessarily on sodas, candy, or cookies.

I am in FULL SUPPORT of New York City deciding to eliminate sugary sodas and candy off of the food stamp list.  They aren't required for normal living.  They are treats that should be purchased with your own cash if you want them.  I also like the incentive programs that make the food stamp "bucks" go further by making fresh produce cost less per dollar and allowing food stamps to be used in Farmer's Markets.  I don't think this is punishing lower income families because the facts are that these groups have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, etc. because of poor food choices.  It has be a combo of education and tough love to help rehabilitate these families to make wiser and healthier decisions, and I am glad that NY is in the forefront of this movement.

Topic Two:  Teaching Children to Garden is a Yuppie Dream
When I found this article on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, I was really surprised.  The author, Adam Ozimek, writes that gardening is not a reasonable or realistic way of teaching children how to make proper food choices.  We should be teaching them about the merits of frozen veg instead because that is what more blue collar people can afford.

WHAT?  After watching Food Revolution, I feel gardening at it's most basic is helpful in teaching children where those frozen veg actually come from.  Seeing those little kids not knowing what a potato or a tomato was was heartbreaking!  And saying that gardening is for the upper class is hilarious.  How many rich folks do you know grow all their own produce?  Last time I checked, farmers were also considered blue collar folks.  Hmm.

Ozimek's article also says that organic produce has no more nutritional value than it's conventionally grown counterparts.  DUH.  An organic apple and a conventional apple are still APPLES.  It's the care of the soil, the types of pesticides, the support of local farmers:  That is what sets organic produce apart from conventional produce.  Buying organic is a great choice if you can make it, but if you are buying apples at the end of the day, isn't that a better option than no apples at all?

Topic Three:  No Healthy Options for Halloween?
I am not saying I want you to buy raisins for the neighborhood kiddies this Halloween.  I personally hate raisins.  I'm also not saying you should give out razor blade filled apples.  I read this "blog" post-- maybe it's a blog or a really personality filled article posed as fact?-- that you should allow kids to go hog wild on Halloween and get real candy.  This was written by a mom whose children don't drink soda and don't know what Pop Tarts are, but she is completely cool with them eating a pillow case full of candy.  Heck, maybe all that sugar will get them sick and they'll realize that candy is not all that great for you.

I just disagree with allowing kids to eat as much candy as they like just because it is Halloween.  I was told I could eat a certain amount and then the rest was put away by my mom.  I think if the people that passed out candy chose some healthier options like pretzels or healthier candies, it wouldn't be such a bad idea, either.  Although I congratulate this mom on her practices the other 364 days a year, I don't think she should give up the fight just because it is Halloween.  Seems irresponsible somehow.

And that's my two cents for today.  Any thoughts?


  1. On the ban of sugary drinks and sweets ...

    I see your point, and respect it. As I've peered over my blogroll and comments following this story - I recognize that it's a highly popular stance. But, I gravely think this measure is misguided, regarding the intent. I went on an exhaustive
    on another blog about my position on this, I'll spare you though, lol. But my thoughts boil down to this being a class issue. Another experiment posed to the poor.

    Sure, some abuse the system and willingly make unsavory choices with taxpayer money - but not all. It can be attributed to a lack of education regarding nutrition, as well as the bane of access to healthier options in certain areas. I truly hope those facilitating this trial, will also delve into that aspect of it, too.

    I see banning soda as the gateway to infringement of dietary choices. While I'm a healthy living advocate, I'm also an advocate of comprehensive approaches to tackling this obesity epidemic. This whole country needs "tough love," if you ask me, not just those in financial straits. If the government really wants to curtail the consumption of soda and candy and related preventable diseases ... I'd implore them to think a little deeper than simply banning stuff. It's a weak cop-out, IMO.

    I guess I didn't spare you my rant, as I intended. Sorry, Alison, lol! I need to log off the internet, before someone BANS me, lol!

  2. I agree with your point. A lot of poorer families that depend on the government for help do get "tested" on because they are receiving benefits from the government. I do feel it's in the best interest of the kids, and since these families are getting the money from the government I suppose the governement has the right to say what can and cannot be purchased with their money. If the families want the more "luxury" items, they would have to pay for them out of their own pocket. So they can still make these choices for themselves, but they just can't use the government issued funds for them. Like food stamps can't be used for alcohol and ciggs.

    I even think that "diet" sodas shouldn't be allowed because of the side effects of artificial sweetners as well, but that is just my opinion.

    And I would never ban you for expressing a valid and well thought out opinion!!! Express away, friend. :)