Friday, April 5, 2013

Healthy Eating Unit

good food
Our health unit this year came about because of a class I took in January. An Introduction to U.S. Food Systems was offered through Coursera by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The knowledge I gained through that class has caused us to make major changes in our shopping and eating habits. I decided to develop a health unit for the boys to help teach them why we are making these changes.

As a family, we watched the movie Food, Inc. This was an eye-opener for all of us. My husband said it was the scariest movie he had ever seen, and I agree. From that point on, we decided we wanted to try to buy meat that had not been produced in factory farms. We also decided to start taking part in Meatless Monday. It's a simple concept- reduce your family's meat consumption by skipping meat every Monday. We also began reducing our red meat consumption to only a couple times a month (grass fed only), eating organic chicken, and sustainably caught seafood.

labels are important
 The next step in our education about food was to learn what all the different labels mean. Just because something is labeled 'all natural' or 'farm fresh' doesn't mean much. We found this guide to help us sort the truth from the fiction. JT quickly became my go-to at the grocery store. He memorized the 'dirty dozen' and 'clean fifteen' list to help me decide which vegetables and fruits we should avoid if they weren't labeled USDA organic.

We also started looking for more local buying options for our food. I quickly discovered that we are fortunate enough to have a CSA in our area. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The members buy a 'share' in the farm and then during the growing season, get to pick up their share of the produce. The boys were able to learn more about this concept by watching the movie, Out to Pasture, available online, produced by John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. We became members of our local CSA and will start receiving our produce in June. We will also be able to volunteer to work on the farm to get a real feel for how our food is grown. The farm that runs our CSA also sells meat, so now we have a good local source for our chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.

There is an entire curriculum available through John Hopkins covering this topic. It is set up as a high school level course, so I decided not to use it since I wanted our study to be for both JT and EM and it seemed a little too advanced for a 9 year old. 

Finally, JT has also been reading the book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss. This book has really brought out some anger in my justice-concerned boy. In the grocery store this week, I was allowing EM to buy juice made by Nestle. I know it's not organic, but we are still working to eliminate all of our vices. It's 100% juice, so I feel it's a step in the right direction. JT saw what EM was getting and said to me, "Do you have any idea what an awful company Nestle is?"

I told him that EM is working to change the way he eats and that I was allowing him to do it in his own time.

JT said, "You could just say 'no'. Don't you know the advertisers are using your child as a tool against you?!"

Teach them a little and look what happens!

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