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.

64 Responses to “School Phoolishness In Philadelphia”
  1. Lori says:

    As long as we’re talking about ancestral diets, my ancestors (northern European) lived mostly on meat, eggs and dairy. Until recently, those colorful veggies were available only seasonally in the land of long, cold winters. However, just because they ate that way, and I eat that way, doesn’t mean everybody ought to eat that way. But if a non-native wants to give it a go, I wish them well.

    I’m pretty sure my Irish ancestors weren’t living on raw fruits and vegetables all year long.

  2. Mung Sprout Cheese says:

    One might add: what type of parent doesn’t prepare their child’s lunch and send them to school with a lunch box? I see this as an issue of BAP (Bad American Parenting) more than SAD (Standard American Diet).

  3. Lori says:

    Stephanie O said, “So I ask again, why are you [Mung] trolling this site? What do you have to offer to the conversation that is relevant?”

    I just did a Google search for “vegan trolls” and “low-carb trolls.” Results:

    “Low-carb trolls” got 13 results.
    “Low carb trolls” got 53 results.
    “Vegan trolls” got 1,940 results.

    As I’ve said before: Bad mood–it could be the food.

    Something about vegetarianism turns some of them into the dietary equivalent of Jehovah’s Witnesses, showing up on other people’s doors and preaching. I’ll sing the praises of low carb/paleo all day long on my blog, but I’d never go do it on a vegan blog.

  4. Peggy Cihocki says:

    @Grapenuts, You might want to read Kaayla Daniel’s “The Whole Soy Story”. I used to think soy was healthy, too, until I read that and followed up with research in other sources.
    I tried vegetarianism, too, and gained a lot of weight. I was heavier than I have ever been before or since at the end of 10 years of vegetarian living. I would never go back to that lifestyle.
    Protein and fat sticks with you so much better than carbs. Nowadays, breakfast is generally a latte made with unsweetened almond milk and cream. That alone will hold me for hours, but add a sausage to that and I’m good ’til dinner. When I ate a grain based breakfast, my stomach was growling within a couple of hours, even if accompanied by whole milk. There’s just no comparison!

  5. Peggy Cihocki says:

    Oh, and I’m so glad you are writing a book for parents and kids. It’s about time someone put one out there that recommends something other than the usual paradigm! Hopefully they will watch “Fat Head”, too. I am going to recommend it to the teacher with whom I used to teach 6th grade Health. It might reinforce the things I was trying to help her see–if I can get her to watch it. It would be great for her to show her classes, too!

    If the kids have to watch Super Size Me, I hope they see Fat Head too.

  6. David H says:

    I seriously wonder why even though, Fruits and Vegetables keep being praised, they want to raise the “whole grains” rather than nutrient-dense meats, especially organs which are sky-high in nutrients with Vitamins A and D and K and B vitamins and have fat which will complement the fat-soluble vitamins in the Fruits and Vegetables. I agree we have to replace things with more vegetables, but the wheat needs to get kicked out and be replaced with fruits and veggies, not the meat.
    Here is something from a pro lowfat website (you can tell)
    Pork Liver:
    This food is low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Zinc and Selenium.
    The only “flaw” they can think of is the “very high” cholesterol

    Yes, it’s interesting how they keep promoting nutrient-dense foods, but conveniently ignore the fact that meat is nutrient-dense.

  7. Brendan says:

    Thanks for another interesting and wonderful article. Makes my day to read such humorous post. Government should leave us alone dietwise and they should provide us proper and correct information on nutrition. Forcing kids to sing about carrots instead of pigs, haha, I couldn’t stop laughing. What an absurd idea.

    By the way, if I am not mistaken, “Mung Sprout Cheese” appears as “Doing Raw Right” in the comment sections on the freetheanimal blog to defend his ideologies, his superb diet and his greens:

    But i don’t think he is winning many converts though. Preaching at the door of paleo and low carb blogs about the wonder of greens and a meatless diet is a futile effort since we all love our meat and fat.

    The vegetarian zealots apparently believe none of us has ever heard of the supposed benefits of their diet before. In fact, many of us have not only heard that same old song, we used to sing it ourselves … then we noticed the diet wasn’t working.

  8. Mung Sprout Cheese says:

    “Why are you trolling this site? Seriously, we don’t care what you eat, but most of us are here because we enjoy our high fat, moderate protein, normal carb diet.”

    That’s how I eat, but raw vegan.

  9. Rocky says:

    One of the most clever things the government has done is keep those on the Left and those on the Right squabbling at one another. It takes our attention away from the fact that no matter which party is in power, the individual is getting screwed.

    With each tilt of the political seesaw, in either direction, the noose on the individual’s neck gets a little tighter. Yet 50% of us are always happy because our party is in power, while we remain blind to the destruction that is still happening.

    Behind closed doors, those who pretend to be the bitterest political rivals are probably shaking hands and laughing at the public’s stupidity.

    It’s probably best that I’m a libertarian, then. My party is never in power.

  10. Dave, RN says:

    It’s not actually the school. The Old McDonald alternative can be found on the AHA website as seen below… I wonder why they don’t have anyone choosing the meat or fats group in the example. Oh yeah, because it’s their example…

    Old MacDonald’s Heart-Healthy Farm Song

    Review with children the food groups and the kinds of foods found in each group.

    Choose a food group and have children name a food from that group. Then ask them to sing “Old MacDonald” using the name of the food they chose and appropriate descriptive words. For example, if you chose the fruits and vegetables category and children named carrots, the song might go as follows:

    Old MacDonald had a farm,
    And on this farm he had some carrots,
    With a crunch, crunch here,
    And a munch, munch there,
    Here a crunch, there a munch,
    Everywhere a crunch, munch,
    Old MacDonald had a farm,

    Other possibilities are

    (category) fruits and vegetables; (food) orange juice; (descriptive words) squish, swish; and
    (category) breads, cereals, pasta and starchy vegetables; (food) noodles; (descriptive words) jiggle, wiggle.

    Crunch … of course.

  11. Mung Sprout Cheese says:

    “I know you said you were going to stop posting”

    Stephanie, when did I say that?

  12. julianne says:

    About subsidies – in New Zealand as far as I know – we have no subsidies on farming. One of the issues NZ farmers have is that when exporting meat / food, they have to compete with the cheaper subsidized food.
    ‘What happened when NZ ended farm subsidies”

    When my country turns itself into the next Argentina by continuing to spend trillions of dollars we don’t actually have, New Zealand is high on my list to places to emigrate.

  13. Eliza says:

    The school’s idea of nutrition is total bogus. In science class we had a unit on nutrition several months ago. My teacher passed out papers on the food pyramid, with carbs, calories, fat, and all that on it and I remember being so confused. 300 carbs? Restricted fat? Dairy is bad for you? WTF?

    And then I watched Fathead, and I really, really wish we were still doing that unit just so I could raise my hand and prove the teacher wrong.

    The odds are pretty good your teacher would refuse to believe the advice he or she has been handing out is wrong.

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