Thursday, September 15, 2011

What don't we get about food?

I don't think I am overly well read on nutrition.  Good nutritional information is available EVERYWHERE.  Super Size Me, did a great job of showing us what the junk we eat does to our body.  My daughter's school has nutritional guidelines in their handbook.  I am personally a fan of Rory and Kim at  Skinny Bitch.  Mostly because they are irreverent and crack me up while also making me want to whip myself into shape.

SO WHY ARE WE FUNDRAISING WITH PASTA THAT HAS MSG IN IT!?  I decided to educate myself, because what do I really know about MSG?  Not a whole lot.  Turns out it is a sodium salt of glutamic acid.  Okay....what the heck is that?  According to wikipedia (see this link MSG), it is a non-essential amino acid.  Apparently all the hubbub when we were kids (or at least when I was), was just that.  Also, apparently a LOT of our food contains MSG, they just call it natural flavoring.  The percentage of the population with an actual reaction to MSG is around 1%.  This is the same percentage of people Wikipedia's article claims have peanut allergies.

What does it all mean?  I guess the pasta the school is selling is healthy, if you have no allergies.  Those of us with food allergies are the minority.  Most people are not bothered by these issues, and while it would be nice for my daughter's school to offer something for her, I don't see it happening.  Ever.  Even when the school has claimed they would offer something for her that was safe they don't.

Still, I don't understand why every reward or "special fun item" at school has to be sugar and dairy filled.  So that gets me back to my point.  What are we teaching our children if every month or so they have sugar filled treats for reaching goals?  What am I teaching my child when I have to tell her to sell egg filled pasta (which she can't eat), so she can win an ice cream party for her class (to which she will have to bring her own frozen treat)?  Childhood obesity is supposedly on the rise.  Perhaps we should stop viewing food as a treat and explain to our children that food fuels their bodies and what they put in effects what they can do.  Perhaps we should allow healthy options only at this age, with occasional (2-3 times a year) treats.  

Another example in her life is cookies.  It is extremely hard when cookie sales for Girl Scouts come around.  She can't eat those either.  However, her troop did not come up with a sugary, non-allergy friendly prize if the goals were met.  They decided to go to the movies together.  As a mom and girl scout leader, I try to help my child and all of my girl scouts make healthy food choices.  I try to explain that they will receive more nutrition by eating natural and whole foods.  But let's be real they are little kids, and I am swimming against the majority in this case.  Maybe it is time that we all look more closely at what we eat, and teach instead by example.  Give children only healthy options, and try to include them all, even those with sensitivities.

Because big L can't eat and participate in these rewards she feels left out, and when she is a top seller I don't see that as fair.  Like my mom says, "I never said life was fair."  Perhaps someday when she asks, "Can I eat that, mom?", I will be able to answer yes.  For now, I try to educate her on what is safe for her to eat.  The Girl Scout reward is something I thankfully control in some ways, and that part of her life will be fair (I still feel guilty selling something that I myself don't think is healthy to eat).  As for the pasta, I think we are just going to forego the sale of pasta this year; our silent allergy protest.

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