Cooking and obesity

We need a new requirement in high school… maybe earlier.

Everywhere you look, you see ads for weight-loss and reports on how America is getting more and more obese. Well, we bloody well are! Part of the problem is that we don’t move enough. The other part is food. Interspersed between these ads for weight-loss and reports are ads for all kinds of fast foods… and how little it costs to have a LOT of food. The other day I saw an ad for a “Big Bag Lunch” It contained- wait for it- a quarter pound hamburger, a large chili cheese hot dog, a large order of french fries, a large soda and an apple pie turnover. That’s enough food for at least two very active people… and far too much for two people who are sitting at a desk for 8 hours.

But what other options have we given our kids? Do we help them with homework and then take them with us into the kitchen to fix dinner and sit down over a nutritious home cooked meal to discuss the body’s relative needs for protein, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins? A few parents do, I’m sure. But the vast majority have either not enough time or not enough knowledge to do that. Many of us don’t have either one and so our kids are growing up not knowing what is good for them or how to make it.

We have cooking shows all over TV. Have you watched them? They make foods that are usually vastly complex, time consuming and call for ingredients that are usually expensive and hard to find. This is not the kind of thing you can whip together after coming home from work and if that’s the only cooking you’ve ever been taught, you’re going to have that pizza delivery place on speed dial.

I move that we get the schools to offer and require something besides Home Ec. I would love to see a class that every child had to take to graduate high school that was a combination of simple nutrition and plain cooking. These kids don’t need to know how to make pate de foi gras… they need to know how to make pancakes. And scrambled eggs. And spaghetti. And meatloaf. And how to cook fresh vegetables and meats so that they don’t have to rely on canned and frozen if they can get the fresh for a good price. And chicken. And why you should eat fish and how to tell if it’s good and how to make it taste like something without half a ton of breading and grease. They also need to know what a “serving” looks like… we’ve lost the sense to judge a serving because we’re always being given at least twice that when we eat out.

Kids first leaving home don’t have a lot of money and they don’t have a lot of time. We need to be teaching them how to save money and time… and calories!… by teaching them how to shop and how to cook what they buy. We’ll have healthier… and happier… kids who won’t be adding to the obesity statistic.

Now I just have to figure out how to pitch it to the schools…

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