No Child Left (Without a Fat) Behind

The revolting amount of fat-laden value meals, greasy pizzas, and fizzy sugar-loaded drinks America ingests on a daily basis disgusts me. To top that off, our country spends more money per year on fast food then we do on education- may as well be fat and stupid, I guess.

Also, experts say that the Americans should have no more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar a day, depending on their gender. However, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons a day! Also, I am saddened by the fact that almost two-thirds of American adults are overweight. Therefore, it might be a surprise for you to learn that, despite all of this, I strongly believe junk foods should be served in school. Now why would I encourage such poor nutrition? Truth is, I don’t. However, it is the need to be able to make a choice that makes me think we should continue serving junk food in schools.

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If a child is hand-fed lettuce wraps and carrot sticks their entire life, they will never have to develop any willpower to stay healthy. Release that child onto any street in the USA, and you’ll be sure to find them raiding the McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Little Caesars perched on every street corner. Currently, most schools have foods that make kids choose. If an option were lost, the kids would never have to face the natural consequences and learn from their decisions. They won’t know how to make the nutritious choice and say no, so they never will.

I’m not suggesting we constantly tempt our youth with juicy burgers and then snatch them out from under their noses. What kind of life is it to be forced to live off of tofu and vegetables? How is that any better than a staple of fried chicken and French fries? Okay, technically it is way healthier for you, but it ain’t good for the soul! If your idea of dessert is spelt bran muffins, then be my guest, but for the rest of us it’s the gooey cookie or the full-fat ice cream that gets our taste buds drooling! We can’t force feed our students spinach all the time, or we will be finding them headed straight to the chicken nugget counter when they are cut loose! America’s youth need to be properly educated on the topic of good nutrition. A quality diet does consist mainly of beneficial foods like veggies, lean meats and whole grains. However, the occasional brownie never hurt anybody! Moreover, we all know that these sweet treats and salty tidbits taste a thousand times better when they’re eaten sparingly. When it comes down to the real thing that gets our country motivated, (and let’s be honest here) you find piles and piles of glorious money. It is green slips of paper that put stars in our eyes, not miraculously healed kitties or amazing stories of families reunited.

And it’s a plain fact that junky, processed food is cheaper than healthy, fresh food! With an average of over 30 pounds of food getting thrown out each year by every American, it’s true that our country wastes a lot of food. Therefore, it’s simple logic that a school that stocks all garden fresh food without a single treated item in sight will throw out more money annually than a school that doesn’t know the definition of “lettuce” as anything more than a condiment for their cheeseburgers. The obvious solution here is to meet in the middle. A balance of wholesome, beneficial foods and pre-packaged, insubstantial foods is economically sound and dietarily smart. Also, this extra money not spent on expensive food that will be wasted can be used for other valuable investments, such as new electronics and books- learning tools that are essential to a sound education and therefore to a better quality of life. You know the old saying- we always want what we can’t have.

While this stands for everything- a new iPod, a more tricked-out car- it also holds true for food. A kid is less likely to crave pizza everyday if it is always available. On the other hand, if all that they can choose is turkey on wheat or a chef salad, all they can think about is a hot, hand-tossed crust, gooey cheese and fresh, meaty pepperoni. Nothing can stop this kid from bursting out the door when the school bell is still vibrating and running down the street to the nearest 7-11 and to bag of chips and a Big Gulp down the gullet. However, when they are used to the daily option of desserts and snacks they will be less likely to crave them.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to all situations, but for this one I feel that the need for willpower, a healthy balance, saving money and options weigh out any opposing statements. Although we truly are in need of a healthier America, we do not need to take away our rights to choose to improve our dietary habits. There are better ways to do it, like more health education and more widely available nutritious choices. We may not be the fittest country in the world, but we are known for the amount of freedoms our citizens have. Throwing that away might improve the state of our bodies, but it will destroy the state of our minds.