Back in my day, the only excitement associated with nutritional instruction was about lunch boxes - not the contents, but the groovy characters embossed on the outside. My Judy Jetson lunchbox was a valuable commodity – certainly more than the baloney and yellow mustard sandwich crushed under the can of Fresca inside. Of course no lunch was more valuable than the lunch containing corner-store penny candy and Twinkies!
Some things haven’t changed since the early 70’s except the sandwiches are stuffed with organic grilled chicken or tofu strips and depending on how your house rolls, are either wrapped in collar green or a gluten-free grain alternative. Mothers still struggle to provide quick, kid-friendly and nutritious lunches for their children; and children are still trading sandwiches for game cards and sugary treats. What’s up with that
Today, kids are well acquainted with all things quick, easy, and micro-wavable, despite how much we talk about healthy eating. Many kids want cheesy, gooey, fatty, sugary food, and are unimpressed with a fruit’s organic origins or the saturated fat content in their Happy Meal. Some working parents are too busy and often uninspired to whip up culinary magic every day for a six-year old. And for those families relying on school lunches (about 22 million, a majority of whom live in urban communities) what and how well kids eat may matter more. So how can we reconcile the differences if not at home, then at school?
“A complete national education on food is still at its infancy”.
When considering the US food education model, there are three priorities: cooking, gardening, academic aptitude. Yet, most schools, especially those in urban settings, do not have the facilities, personnel, or curriculum framework to teach cooking (think home economics, gardening, (think urban agriculture), nor academic aptitude (think, nutritional understanding and application).
Food education in the US is carried out through local or school-specific campaigns or projects. It is true that governmental programs value implementing successful campaigns; however, there is a glitch here. A lack of coordination and cooperation leaves groups implementing such projects standing on their own and ineffectively serving communities in need. Absence of a cohesive curriculum has resulted in a weak performance, especially in subjects such as mathematics as these required high cognitive skills. Moreover, lack of understanding of the real situation going around in the world and poor comprehension of life problems have also cropped up recently. What things are actually better for them are also the pertinent issues they face now.
State of the U.S. eco-nutritional curriculums now:
The California State of Education Code has already mentioned how nutritional education must contain within the curriculum.
They further mention how –
We could take those highlights a bit further and suggest that a return to “home-ec” classes and gardening are prime opportunities to teach basic life skills and environmentally mindful perspectives as well as integrate priorities subjects like maths, science and literacy into the curriculum. We could also look at successful external programs like Edible School Yards and Roots and Shoots to guide transdisciplinary learning and merge practical or vocational skill with more academic learning pursuits. Additionally, to acknowledge the diversity of many of these school populations and the surrounding communities, students can learn various culture-based food traditions and habits that offer alternatives to possibly outdated food pyramids and nutritional guidelines for cooking and eating, such as veganism and/or primal-based eating plans.