Wow, I watched Super Size Me last night on Hulu. I’ve always wanted to watch it because I’m a sucker for documentaries, especially where the subject undertakes some extremist social experiment, but I didn’t realize this movie was filled with so much food theory as well. I made the decision to watch the film after noticing that the health teacher at the school I work is showing it to her kids. So, imagine my surprise when I realized the main subject’s girlfriend is a vegan chef, and Morgan’s post-Mcdonald’s detox diet was a vegan one. I was even further thrilled to see a section on the nation’s generally accepted school food program, a subject I am intimately familiar with as I empty the lunch trash every day and essentially pick up the packaging discards around school all the time.
I’ve been quite appalled at the school lunch program where I work and the eating habits of these kids since I started working there, so once I saw this film being shown in class my wheels got turning. Today, out on a faster than I wanted to go 11 mile run, I decided that I’m going to talk to the school’s health teacher and see if she wanted me to talk to her class about veganism, in relation to the film she is showing. I figure teachers are always looking for new ways to fill class time, so the long-haired, running, vegan janitor talk would probably keep the kids attention for a little bit right?
I’ll probably have to come up with a more structured talk if the teacher thinks this is a good idea, but these are some of the main points I would want to discuss with the kids:
1. Longevity is over-rated. Who cares how long one lives if it’s a life of misery and sickness. The quality of life is always what counts and diet is intricately linked to quality of life.
2. Understanding that good food creates a better quality of life is only the first step. Altering your physical environment or perspective of the physical environment is key. You can be aware that apples are better than pop-tarts, but if grocery stores are filled with 15 aisles of pop-tarts and 1 aisle of apples, guess which product you’ll probably end up choosing.
3. Veganism, on a personal level, has helped me limit my food choices to the point that most crap in the grocery stores is packaged excess and I don’t even bother considering them as an option, therefore the ratio of good choices to bad choices is much more balanced.
4. The food industry isn’t about food. It’s about getting your money. Food is irrelevant. Food is simply what’s in the packaging. It’s really about marketing. A marketing executive can jump industries without any process of relearning…it’s all about what the package looks like, not what’s inside.
5. Any system based on money will ultimately serve the needs of money, not any ethical standard. Food is no different. Corporations have no foundational motive to look out for your dietary benefit, so all product should be suspect.
6. The mind and body are the same entity. Both are fueled by food. Bad fuel will affect both negatively and good fuel with affect both positively.
7. Food is so far removed from it’s original state that we are now ingesting substances that are not ingested by any other living creature as sustenance. When a predator animal eats a cow, it leaves the hooves, hair, and bones to rot. Humans have turned those parts of the animal into gelatin (jello) and that is only the most obvious example. So technically, corporations are feeding us non-food. The effects of eating non-foods are inherently suspect.
That’s just a start though. Those are some ideas that were running through my head as my legs ran along the ground.
This subject of food is really fascinating to me now that I work in a school environment. It’s quite depressing to see how little emphasis is put upon the diet of these kids, wherein some of them come from poor families, which are more likely not able to provide them with healthy foods. Unfortunately, the schools are so strapped as it is with money that they are influenced to cut costs on all the school aspects that aren’t rewarded monetarily by the state, which are essentially test scores. And don’t get me started on the value of test scores, not to mention the subjects which these kids are being tested on……I mean really, LATIN?! EXACTLY WHAT DIRECT VALUE DOES LATIN HAVE IN OUR DAILY LIVES? Ok, tangent. But really, how is so much emphasis placed on latin and so little emphasis placed on good food choices, which is not only something these kids need to know on a daily basis, but actually need to consider multiple times a day. Yeah, this health class is addressing the issue to a degree, but what message is being sent when kids are shown bad food choices and then once class is over they go to lunch to eat the most paltry and low-grade crap food I’ve ever seen. I really thought the trash I collected after lunch was brought by these kids from home, but it turns out that the oreo packages, potato chip packages, government cheese, disgusting “hamburgers”, Smuckers “lunchables” pb&j sandwiches, barely recognizeable cheese, and everything else is actually from the food service company we use. I’ll have to get some photos for you sometime…it really is amazing.
And just the other day before lunch an announcement was given over the speakers. It went something like this,
“Students should be aware that they can not refuse the lunch offered in the cafeteria. We are subsidized by a government program and the guidelines of that program insist that every student take a complete lunch. You can’t refuse any portion of the lunch. If you want to give it away to others, that is fine, but you must take a complete lunch. This is a federal mandate and we can’t refuse it or we lose our lunch service.”
The trash cans overflow with uneaten lunches….which may not be a bad thing really.
Then there are the rules around school about proper behavior, including not chewing gum or candy, which I think is more about not having gum and candy wrappers thrown all over the school (yeah right), but at the same time, I see kids sprinting away from bathroom breaks to the counselors office where he has a full bucket of candy that he freely lets the kids grab into EVERY DAY. This, on top of the Monsters and Red Bulls these kids walk into school with. I mean, I don’t really know how these kids would function without all this junk, but I’m guessing the classes might be just A TOUCH easier to manage.
So anyways, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but I’m interested to see what sort of response I might get if the teacher lets me go ahead with a talk/q&a session. I’ll keep you all posted.
11 miles – supposed to be an easy recovery pace, but after 2 miles I felt loose and ended up moving quickly along the canal downtown, despite the increasing heat and humidity.
Breakfast – English muffin with margarine, coffee
Lunch – Pasta w/ TVP and brocolli, water, bread and margarine
Snacks – Water, Peaches, Plums eaten from a tree on the run, Raw energy bar
Dinner – Homemade chili w/ tofu, zuchinni, other veggies, etc. (Awesome!), homemade bread, peaches and plums