As you know by now if you actually read these things, I am always on the lookout for the next great idea for a newsletter rant — or a trip down memory lane. And I read lots of primary sources like magazines and newspapers and research available on the Web. I even read the Kids Post in The Washington Post.
Recently they asked young readers for their own ideas on dealing with childhood obesity. Out of 300 entries they selected one winner and five runners-up and printed their responses in the paper. All of them were great, but a couple were of particular interest to those of us who see this as more than just a family problem. Jack Mead was the overall winner, and this 11-year-old had some great ideas including getting children into the kitchen, grocery stores sponsoring children’s cooking classes and schools hosting community cooking nights. He even suggested that the Post add a Kids Cookin’ section.
This is a kid after my own heart, but then the kid who already owns my heart has some good ideas too. My granddaughter has posted something on our refrigerator titled “List of Dining Rules.” You may remember that she is 11 years old too, and she is just full of ideas. She recommends one fruit and one vegetable a day, which may not sound like much, but look at the statistics on what people actually eat and it looks like a timely idea. I will list in her own words some of her other suggestions for all of us:
- The routine goes: a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and a fair sized dinner.
- If you are so desperate for a snack, then eat some broccoli or carrots. (which she does)
- Have a sandwich and an apple for lunch (which her father does) — or if you get bored, eat leftover dinner.
- Only desserts and all that crap twice a week.
- No candy bought from stores — under any circumstances! (leaving room here for the sweets available at the market, of course)
Dana Gerber, also 11 and one of the Post winners, had a list of her own:
- Make fatty, processed and fast food less easy to get.
- Have school lunches be healthy food like chicken or fish.
- Put up more farmers’ markets. (She’s got my vote!)
- Replace the candy at the market with magazines.
I think it is great that children are so far ahead of their elders when it comes to dealing with this issue; maybe there is hope that we will one day be able to deal with this as a community and as a country without it becoming fodder for politicos and pundits.
Several years ago after watching children sample their way through farmers’ markets throughout the market season, I realized that kids will try anything: berries; peas in the spring; peaches, tomatoes and raw corn in the height of summer; and pears and apples in the fall. They will even pick up and try hot peppers, which tells me that all we parents need to do is put it on the plate in front of them or, better yet, invite them to shop and cook too. And they will lead us out of this fine mess we have gotten ourselves into.
That precocious granddaughter of mine also was working last year on a design for a Kid’s Page for our website. Maybe this year we can help her make that happen.
See you at the market!