Nutrition Education: The Political Version

The Atlantic offers an excellent conversation-starter video (5 minutes) about the myths of nutrition education that have been perpetuated throughout public schooling for decades. A food media literate person investigates the Food Pyramid with such questions as: “Whose interests are served?” “What is left out?” “Whose voices are excluded?” and “At what cost? And to whom?”

Remember learning about the food pyramid in health class? As it turns out, it was based on a lot of misinformation about nutrition. In this episode, we explore the source of some of the lasting myths about healthy foods and fitness and the new science shaping health class today.

The political pendulum continues to swing with the more recent Choose My Plate guidelines. Watch a unique health care-ful presentation below that explains it. Then apply the same media literacy questions to Choose My Plate: “Whose interests are served?” “What is left out?” “Whose voices are excluded?” and “At what cost? And to whom?”

You can learn more about applying media literacy principles to food media from Dr. Vanessa (Domine) Greenwood’s course Food Media Literacy.

Fighting the Good (Food) Fight

One-third of children and over fifty-percent of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese. Each day 3,000 Americans die from heart disease or other diet-related illnesses. These are just a few of the hard facts that motivated former school teachers Carolyn Cohen and Deborah Lewison-Grant to start FoodFight. This non-profit revolution based in New York City, equips teachers, parents, students, and school staff with the information and instruments needed to model change for healthier eating. The founders’ mission spurred from watching their students sink into the realm of unhealthiness and inability to focus, yet always in possession of chips and soda. The correlation was too evident to ignore.

Rather than preaching the rights of broccoli and the wrongs of ding-dongs, FoodFight aims to arm students with the most powerful weapon there is: Knowledge. By giving students information, evidence, and facts, they become the true makers of their choices and the drivers behind their own health.

FoodFight’s Teacher Wellness Program shows faculty and staff how critical health and wellness is to the performance and happiness of both students and teachers. The message is in a sense for teachers to eat their own apples first, before relaying the benefits to their students. Nutrition education, supermarket skills, portion control, cooking, and food policies are just some of the topics covered in the Teacher Wellness Program. One teacher claimed to be a FoodFight “groupie” after her motivated efforts lost her and her daughter thirty pounds and significantly decreased her asthma attacks.

Media analysis is a significant component of FoodFight courses, particularly analyzing advertisements and marketing campaigns. It’s incredible to watch the transfer of power from corporation to student as kids explore the persuasive forces behind the words and pictures. Lewison-Grant hopes to teach students that as consumers, they have an opportunity to vote every time they choose a healthy meal, and that they can alter the societal, systemic health crisis.

FoodFight’s 3-part curriculum arms teachers with guiding steps to fight for the noble cause. Part 1 focuses on media literacy and student involvement in the world of consumerism. Part 2 is strictly nutrition-based. Part 3 hones in on the social responsibility that students have to their families, friends, and communities. Such a simple recipe for student empowerment.

FoodFight even spreads seed to parents through the Parent Wellness Program. Topics include supermarket skills, why diets don’t work, simple cooking, and marketing. Parents play a role as crucial as teachers in this battle.

This fantastic association creates the opportunity for a guaranteed win against stale health. It’s evident that all key team members are provided with proper gear to fight the food fight. Chips and soda are sure to tap out when they see what they are up against.

If that’s not enough, check out these awesome apps that are sure to put your decision-making skills on  the healthy fast track.