I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. When that happens, you better brace yourself. Or turn off your computer now. Because you’re in for a FULL DOSE of my opinion about snack. In the famous (in my family at least) words of one of my dear aunts, who shall remain unnamed, after she raked someone or something over the coals years ago then stated, “But I’m not judgemental”, I’ll state that,
For The Record: I Am.
And it has to do with preschool snack. Yes, I’m aware that may not be at the top of your mind today, but it has returned to the top of mine.
My three-year-old returned to school today, after his Christmas Vacation. And, 15 minutes before he had to be at school I remembered with a silent (hopefully?) “OH SH*#!” that it was his day to bring snack. I had kept the preschool’s snack basket for the whole break to be sure I would remember about snack day. Well, that did the trick. I remembered, 15 minutes ahead of the deadline. Here were my options:
1. Race to the grocery store. Buy 2 food groups and 1 jug of milk or juice. Race back to school, quickly package the snacks in 19 ziploc baggies. Deliver. Not get anything else done that was on my schedule of child-less-ness this morning.
2. Figure out something to make, in 15 minutes, at home, that covered the snack basket’s instruction list: 2 food groups and milk, chocolate milk or 100% juice.
Not enough time to make zucchini bread, my usual snack item. No juice in the house. Plenty of raw goat’s milk, but that’s a little iffy sending it to the public school preschool. Parents might feel like we’d just sent their kids tequila for snack.
But, tequila is less heavily regulated than Raw Milk.
Watch out, I’m warming up.
I saw the loaf of bread on the counter. The one I made from wheat I ground in my grain mill. I thought of the apricot jam, that I made from apricots I picked this summer, in the refrigerator. I saw 5 apples in the fruit basket. So, I determined, I would whip up a healthy snack. I made little preschool sized jelly sandwiches and put the five apples in the basket for the teachers to cut up at snack time.
But what to do for the drink? As you may have noticed, I prefer to do things myself. I don’t prefer to spend any unnecessary money at the grocery store. Especially on Milk from Ohio or 100% juice of any kind. So, thinking of the nearly 10 pounds of carrots I brought home from the warehouse store the other day…I’ll see if I can make carrot juice that, just maybe, preschoolers would drink.
I threw 5 carrots in the Vitamix (a major investment 10 years ago…but totally worth it and still going strong) and filled it up with water and added about 1 cup of organic sugar.
I strained it into a 1/2 gallon jar after tasting it and determining it might (not) pass for orange koolaid. The Animal Whisperer took the snack basket and the carrot juice with him when he took the kids to school.
Why, you might ask, would I send such a snack?
Well, I might answer, I BELIEVE IN IT.
About 2 or 3 weeks before Christmas break, I was picking up my 3-year-old from school and overheard the teacher tell one of the other moms, “The kids just LOVED your snack today!”
Wow! I thought, that’s impressive!
“What was it?” I smiled and asked.
“Fruity Pebbles and Pudding,” was the response.
My mind slammed shut instantly. My eyes bugged out. My mouth spoke:
“Fruity Pebbles and Pudding???”
I left the room, at first speechless, then on the way home, fuming mad.
Why In The Name Of All The Allergic, Asthmatic, Diabetic, Overweight, Video Game Playing, Innocent Kids In Our Country are we allowing them to be served Fruity Pebbles and Pudding at school??????
Sure! Of course they love it! It’s loaded with sugar and chemicals! Sure! Their friends will love it! It’s loaded with sugar and chemicals! I mean, have you checked out a ziploc baggie of Fruity Pebbles lately? They are all colors of the chemically produced rainbow and contain not a lick of fruit.
And, pudding? Yes, it may contain milk. But, I wouldn’t call it a snack to promote calm, ready to learn, healthy kids.
I fumed for about 3 days, deciding what to do about it. I am not one for confrontation and prefer to have my thoughts organized and in taking after my mom, start the conversation about the subject to which I object with, “Help Me Understand…”
And so I did.
“Help me understand why it’s OK to bring Fruity Pebbles and Pudding for snack?”
The good news is, the teacher responded, it’s not. The school snack basket list says “bring items from 2 food groups, make it nutritious, and bring milk, chocolate milk, or 100% juice.”
The food groups recommended on the list contain: Corndogs, Pizza Bites, Crackers, Fruit Snacks, Pudding, Apples, Bananas, Carrots with Ranch Dip, Dried Fruit, Celery, Cheese, Grapes, to name some of them. There are marks next to the items that have been brought in, indicating how many times they have been brought in.
Crackers wins in the food category.
Juice wins in the drink category. Chocolate Milk is second. I think Water should win. It’s not on the list.
There are many healthy snack options listed on the Snack Basket list, so it’s not all the school’s fault, although I offered my help and suggestions for changing the list. I don’t agree that things like pudding, corn dogs, fruit snacks and pizza bites should be on the list.
The rest of the problem lies with the parents! Some of the parents are sending Corn Dogs! (But, it’s meat!) And Pizza Bites! (But they have tomato and cheese!) And Fruit Snacks! (But they are fortified with vitamins!)
In attempting to give them the benefit of the doubt, I thought, well, maybe many of the parents (and now we’re getting into a bigger picture of society, not just preschool) can’t afford healthy food. But, the day of my conversation with the teacher, I had just bought enough bananas for the whole class for $1.25. Cheaper than a box of Fruity Pebbles. Definitely cheaper than 19 cups of pudding.
In Food, Inc., and The Omnivore’s Dilemma they talk about a problem with the system . Typically, unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods. Junk foods are advertised incessantly on TV, so of course they are what come to kid’s and adult’s minds first. It is much quicker to buy a box of Fruity Pebbles than make your own bread and jam. Or, to cut up carrots or apples. The government subsidizes corn, which, in some form, is in most of all unhealthy junk food. So, sure, it’s the system.
BUT…if we continue to blame it on the system, which we know will only change VERY slowly or not at all, we continue to give ourselves and excuse to fail. We are victims of the system. We eat junk food, our kids get diabetes, asthma and overweight. We get overweight.
This morning, I chose NOT to wait for the system to change. The only way things will change is if I do. If YOU do. And YOU and YOU and YOU.
I will not be waiting for the system, the government, the school, the TV to create a mass change of eating habits. This morning, I created a change of eating habits for the kids at preschool.
Now, I am not living inside a bubble. I am certainly aware that many of them may not have liked it. They may not have tasted it. They may not have drunk the carrot juice. But, I know I sent a healthy snack, that, if they ate it, would fill them up, give them energy, and contained no unknown chemicals, dyes or fertilizers.
Maybe, if two of them liked it, they’ll go home and say to their moms and dads, “Can you make me a sandwich like I had at school?” or, “Can you make me some of that carrot juice I had at school?”
Maybe it will get the teachers, the kids and the parents thinking.
Maybe it won’t.
The only one thing I can be sure of is that my son ate it. He’s used to eating it at home.
That’s how it has to start.
Now, I’ll take 5 deep breaths.
- The Goat Cheese Lady