Why teaching food literacy is so important
It seems like we are constantly bombarded with headlines and health advice stating "eat more veggies"..."goji berries touted as a superfood"..."exercise prevents obesity"...
Most people will never know the protein content of a kidney bean or the historical significance of amaranth, and thats okay! We certainly do not need to be nutritionist to make better choices and become more knowlegable about the food industry that we are all a part of...And it IS an industry!
We like to think of the happy farmer riding on his yellow tractor in a feild of cabbage that we will soon be buying for our grandmothers famous soup. But the food industry is SO MUCH BIGGER THAN THAT. From elementary school we should be teaching about the "miles of fossil fuels burned to bring a tomato to your supermarket", how different types of calories are calculated and burned, and "the wage of the laborer who harvested your peach." The overwhelming majority of our food comes from commercial agribusiness, not the small time organic farmer down the street. Our food industry is deeply influenced by the political and economic policies of our society, and its all done behind closed doors.
You might ask WHY is this important? Why should we teach our young children about how food is grown, transported, sold, manufactured, and marketed? There are 3 main reasons why it is important to teach about the food industry in elementary school. The first reason is basic knowledge. Some 3rd graders dont know that pork comes from a pig or have never seen an artichoke before. We want our children to be as informed and empowered as possible!
The second reason is that doctors agree that some diseases can be prevented and even reversed just by eating certain foods. With obesity, diabetes, and heart disease being the leading killers today, we need to back away from pharmaceutical use and start using foods to fight back!
The third reason we should teach our children about the food industry is because they can help make it better. Our children are the future and how we raise them will set the tone for decades to come. Is there a reason we take feild trips to organic gardens but not to slaughterhouses? It is just as important to learn how the steak get to our plates as how the broccoli does. If the reason is that children would stop eating meat, then maybe we should rethink how we think of food.
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