It’s a crisp fall morning with traces of frost on the edges of rooftops and sun shining on drops of dew that cling to blades of deep green grass. I’ve had my tea and done my chores and stand in the kitchen window soaking up some vitamin D while preparing some french toast for a late breakfast. Real French toast, made from freshly baked French bread, organic eggs and farm fresh butter from the local market.
I call a fellow writer to join me, it’s so much nicer to cook for two, but she’s fighting a deadline and regretfully declines. I decide to cook a full batch and freeze the extras for popping in the toaster later. I’ve always been very conscious of my diet (having been raised by a nurse) and was particularly zealous about nutrition when raising my children. The proof is in the pudding since all three children are strong, healthy and grew to be giants. (My boys are 6’9″, 6’5″ and my daughter 5’10”)
Over the fence in the backyard I spot the bobbing heads of teens from the local junior high on their run through the neighborhood. They pass the opening at the car port and I watch the thickness of the pack as it trails down to the last few stragglers. I am reminded of my own days in P.E. where our militant teacher marched us outside in all manner of weather and made us run till our lungs burst and bile rose up in our throats. Okay, I’m pretty sure she didn’t abuse us, but gosh darn it was hard work staying with the leaders.
When I lived in California (for over a decade) it was rare to see school children running round the block. Sure there were the active kids, the jocks and the skaters, but most kids were too spoiled or fat to make it to the end of the block let alone around it. I don’t blame it on lack of exercise or activity, the culprit is poor diet.
Every visit to the local grocer I’d find myself staring in horror and disbelief at the contents of young mother’s shopping carts. Packaged (prepared) foods, frozen dinners, soda pop, chips, cookies and sugar-coated cereal. No wonder these kids were so out of shape. Sharp contrast to my cart contents; fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, dairy, fish and lean meats. I silently recite the Canada Food Guide (revised since I was a kid) as my anthem for shopping while I cruised the isles.
I rarely if never (only when other people drag me there) eat fast food. I choose sushi or chinese over MacDonald’s and Taco Bell, but mostly I prefer to cook for myself. I love good food and luckily have culinary skills to offset my desires for delectable dishes.
I feel sorry for those kids who don’t have a chance at a normal healthy life. I don’t blame the parents since most have little or no knowledge of how to balance a diet or prepare healthy food. Immigrants enter the country and mistake fast food as acceptable cuisine. I think of the food carts in Thailand (their version of fast food) with fresh greens, spicy salads and fish soups. Admittedly, I was completely grossed out whenever I passed a vendor selling freshly roasted crickets and beetles, but these are actually good for you!
The governments have failed the children. They make modest attempts to control the sugar intake of youngsters by banning the sale of soda on campus or offering healthier alternatives for cafeteria lunches but more has to happen. Laws need to change. Subsidies for healthy foods and free classes for parents who desperately want a good diet for their kids.
The city of New York attempted to impose salt restrictions for restaurants and packaged foods. (as of March 2011, a mere 7 companies have complied)That’s a good start but so much more needs to be done. How about corn syrup, processed sugars, preservatives, additives, palm oil? When I read packaging on prepared foods my stomach churns. How can people eat that stuff!? Apparently it’s yummy.
They’ve never tasted my french toast.
As I set fruit compote (no added sugar) and maple syrup on the table (sometimes I use banana and peanut butter on my french toast, but I’ve already eaten a banana this morning) I am reminded of a video I watched last night. Back in 2008, the government in Japan declared strict action against expanding waistlines.
Companies are fined for employees that measure-up over acceptable limits for belly fat. The penalties are heavy and the Japanese take it seriously. I can’t imagine what would happen if this type of policy were implemented in North America. One thing for sure, our health care costs would drop dramatically and I’d see more kids running around the block.
Watch the video and leave me your comments below.