Old Macdonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had some carrots, E-I-E-I-O
With a … with a …
Well, there’s the problem: we don’t know what noise carrots make. If we’re going to turn fat kids into skinny kids by having them sing about carrots instead of pigs, we need to come up with a fun sound for carrots. I’m open to suggestions on that one.
On the other hand, I’d say it’s pretty unlikely changing the lyrics to “Old Macdonald” is going to do diddly about childhood obesity, but apparently a school district in Philadelphia is giving it a shot, along with some other ridiculous initiatives:
The gym teacher, Beverly Griffin, teaches healthy eating using a toy model of the federal food pyramid and rewritten children’s songs. “And on his farm he had some carrots,” Tatyana, a first grader, belted out one recent morning, skipping around the gym with her classmates.
Ah, so that’s why the Food Pyramid has been such a colossal failure: we forgot to produce toy models of it for the kids to play with. A good toy trumps the biological need for quality protein and natural fats every time.
“Mrs. Griffin, I’m hungry!”
“You already had some whole-wheat toast with margarine and cup of skim milk, dear.”
“I know. But I’m really, really hungry!”
“Well, uh … here, play with these plastic loaves of bread. You’ll feel better. And when you’re done, remember they belong on the base of the food pyramid.”
The Philly school is, of course, engaging in all this nonsense to bring itself into alignment with the federal government’s nonsense:
With 20 percent of the nation’s children obese, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed new standards for federally subsidized school meals that call for more balanced meals and, for the first time, a limit on calories. The current standard specifies only a minimum calorie count, which some schools meet by adding sweet foods.
The Agriculture Department wants to change the content of federally subsidized school meals — 33 million lunches and 9 million breakfasts a day — by the fall of 2012. Beyond the calorie cap, the new standards would emphasize whole grains, vegetables and fruits and set tighter limits on sodium and fats.
Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the Philadelphia School District, said schools were meeting the new federal meal proposals by using more dark green and orange vegetables, as well as fruits, whole grains and legumes.
Great. Awesome. Fabulous. So we’re going to give kids calorie-restricted meals full of fruits and grains, but low in fat. I tried that type of diet back when I didn’t know any better, and all it did was make me hungrier. An email I received today from a recent Fat Head viewer sums it up pretty well:
I had always wondered why eating a big bowl of Cheerios for breakfast at 7:30 left me starving by 10 am, while I could get by until 10:30 on nothing but a mug of tea. Oatmeal has me jonesing for lunch by 11, while a cheese omelet sees me through dinner. This morning I set aside my usual two slices of wheat toast with jam and ate two hardboiled eggs instead. I feel rather awesome, not hungry at all. And ALERT!
Well, heck, we don’t want schoolkids feeling satisfied and alert. We want them so light-headed and hungry, they’ll happily run around singing songs about carrots. Then when their blood sugar crashes because they didn’t eat enough fat to provide real fuel for their bodies, they’ll run out and grab the first sugary snacks they can find.
But no worries. The school and some parents who don’t know any better are attempting to fix that problem with a new program called Hassling Local Businesses:
Tatyana Gray bolted from her house and headed toward her elementary school. But when she reached the corner store where she usually gets her morning snack of chips or a sweet drink, she encountered a protective phalanx of parents with bright-colored safety vests and walkie-talkies.
“Candy!” said one of the parents, McKinley Harris, peering into a small bag one child carried out of the store. “That’s not food.”
The parents standing guard outside the Oxford Food Shop are foot soldiers in a national battle over the diets of children that has taken on new fervor.
Good grief. Nothing like recruiting parents to act as Food Fascists in that national battle over the diets of children. The vest-and-walkie-talkie brigade was apparently the brainchild of the school principal, who has decided convenience stores are part of the problem:
To match the efforts inside the school, one of Ms. Brown’s first acts as principal last August was to ask owners of nearby corner stores to stop selling to students in the morning.
Gladys Tejada, who owns the Oxford shop, said, “It’s a good thing, what they’re trying to do, but I can’t control who comes in.” Nor can she control what they buy. “They like it sweet,” she said. “They like it cheap.”
Bingo. Ms. Tejada is running a store, not a diet center. Unless she’s giving away snacks for free, the kids are spending money given to them by their parents. It’s not Ms. Tejada’s job to be a substitute mommy and control what these kids eat. That’s a job for their own parents.
If schools are prohibited from serving whole milk but allowed to serve chocolate skim milk, juice boxes, and peaches in syrup, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re raising a generation of sugar addicts. Convenience stores -– like all stores –- can only sell what people are willing to buy, as I pointed out in a recent post. For some reason, do-gooders can’t seem to grasp this basic principle of economics … which explains programs like this:
Since 2001, a Philadelphia organization called Food Trust has worked to get corner stores to offer healthier foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables and water, as well as products with reduced sugar, salt and fat. But just 507 of the city’s estimated 2,500 corner stores have signed on.
So only about 20% of the stores signed on, hmm? I wonder why the other 80% aren’t jumping in there and doing their part to battle childhood obesity by offering more fruits and vegetables?
Jetro Cash and Carry, which supplies many corner stores, joined the effort. But Jack Sagen, a Jetro sales and marketing director, said he recently lost $500 buying several dozen cases of 15-cent bags of sliced apples that perished before they could catch on with the stores.
Well, obviously the 15-cent price tag was a major deterrent for all those kids clamoring for apples. Thank goodness the federal government is spending $400 million to make fruits and vegetables cheaper and more available in “under-served” urban areas.
But after several weeks of parent intervention, Ms. Brown said more children were skipping the corner stores, showing progress against the pull of sweet snacks.
I would of course love to see kids stop eating so many sweet snacks. But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) those kids are just finding the foods that feed their sugar addiction somewhere else.
“It does what they need it to do for that moment,” she said of the snacks. “It hits them in the stomach. They feel full. It’s cheap and fast.”
Here’s a crazy idea: maybe those USDA-approved school breakfasts and lunches should include more protein and animal fats. Then when the kids head home from school, they’ll already feel full.