Yesterday, while I was tying my notes from the North Thurston School District’s Food Specifications Binder the House Appropriations Committee was passing a bill that allowed schools to “opt out” of the White House nutritional guidelines.
It is easy to see why local nutrition specialists, such Director of Food and Nutrition Services Alicia Neal, are unable to get healthy meals into our schools. There is no support from above so we will have to provide lateral support. Enough parents offering real solutions can make a difference.
For now let’s look at what the kids are currently eating. I have highlighted the known GMOs and listed sugar and sodium levels where available.
The elementary school lunch menu for Tuesday, May 6:
Breakfast: Egg and Cheese Sandwich
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets or Cottage Cheese cup and garlic toast, fruit and veggie bar
Homestyle breaded nuggets– 367mg sodium
Cottage Cheese Cup (fat free includes 5g of sugar per serving)
Garlic Toast – this also included half a page of ingredients, but you get the idea
What about the kids who make “healthy choices such as salads? The produce is non-organic of course and therefore laden with pesticides. The fruit cups come in either juice or light syrup (likely genetically modified corn syrup) and the salad dressings are a concoctions of dangerous chemicals and genetically modified sugar. For example:
Hidden Valley ranch dressing – 380mg sodium, 1g sugar
Ventura Foods Honey Mustard Dressing – 5g sugar
Let us not forget the beverages.
Darigold fat free chocolate milk– 210mg sodium, 25g sugar
Darigold lowfat chocolate milk – 230mg sodium, 29g sugar
And for the end of the year field trips. For those kids who do not bring their own brown bag lunches they can expect something along the lines of a sunbutter and jelly sandwhich. Sounds simple enough right? Let’s look at the ingredients:
Sunwise Foods sunflowerseed butter and grape jelly – 250mg sodium, 14g sugar
Oil, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Malt, Mono & Diglycerides, Calcium Propionate (to preserve freshness), dough conditioners (L-Cysteine, Ascorbic Acid). Sunflower Seed Butter: Sunflower Seed, Sugar, Mono & diglycerides, Salt, Natural Mixed Tocopherols to preserve freshness. Grape Jelly: Corn Syrup, Water, Concord Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate
That is a lot of sugar for one sandwich. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of daily calorie intake should come from sugars. The USDA guidelines for health advise that a 4-8 year old child should consume 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day. This increases to 5 to 8 teaspoons for the 9-18 age range.
Now for the math. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.
This means our fat-free milk has 6.25 teaspoons of sugar! If you add the field trip sandwich you have exceeded the daily sugar intake of a high school senior. Remember that this is just part of ONE meal. I found copious amounts of sugar in the foods I looked at: tomato soup (11g), burritos (3g), french bread pizza (4g), sweet potato fries (3g) and yogurt (13g). Sugar causes systemic inflammation which, when chronic, can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In the short-term the empty calories lead to nutrient-deficiency, stresses the liver, addicts children causing them to crave more and inhibits their ability to learn.
Another health concern is that most, if not all, of this sugar is genetically modified. Other GMO ingredients include corn and soy products. These ingredients are genetically engineered to withstand the pesticides that are sprayed on the fields and have been found to contain three to four times the pesticide load as conventional produce. If this is not concerning enough, GMO products have been increasing linked to “leaky gut” a term for the destruction of the intestinal lining which allow food particles to enter the bloodstream. This accounts for the more than 200% increase in food allergies since GMOs entered the food supply. Nearly every food label I looked at contained at least one GMO in its ingredient list
There are plenty of over concerning chemicalized ingredients in the above “foods” but I think it is clear where I am going with this. The food we are serving to our students is in direct opposition to most of our goals for them. Instead of nourishing our children we are causing them to be sick and unable to learn to their full capacity.
This begs the question, what is the next step in this process. I have a meeting with the director of nutrition services next week. Before that time please send me any questions or any solutions that you would like me to take to her. You can comment here or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org