Food education remains crucial

Editorial Board

Education has been a hot topic recently, with the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The discussion has focused mainly on her unorthodox opinions on “school choice” and support for charters and a voucher system. However, an educational issue that the previous administration had begun to address may fall by the wayside. 

In the words of Michelle Obama, “when you turn on the TV or you go online, you hardly ever see any really cool ads for fruits and vegetables. Instead, every year, the average kid in this country sees more than 5,500 TV ads for unhealthy foods…” 

Food education is not a required course in the American education system. Students are expected to take health classes that generally focus less on holistic health and more on discouraging the high-risk behaviors students are faced with. The looming shadow of drug abuse, underage drinking, sexual activity and eating disorders often eclipse the overall importance of nutrition, diet, self-care, and exercise. 

So why is it necessary to advertise healthy dietary staples? People should not have to be told they should eat lettuce. Shiny branding should not influence the self-respect that encourages you to make healthy choices. 

If a child is raised in an environment where soda, fast food and unhealthy snacks are the norm, they will gravitate towards these options throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. If these habits are not corrected, the same values will be instilled in future generations. 

This dynamic is why, unfortunately, parents cannot be relied on to instill nutritional competency within their children — if parents are unaware of how to practice appropriate dietary health, it is unreasonable to expect them to teach their children these practices. 

To further validate the necessity of food education, the correlation between poor diets and low socioeconomic status must be visited. 

A study conducted by Harvard researchers published in British Medical Journal claimed that eating healthy cost consumers around an additional $1.50 per day. 

When families are deterred from eating healthy because of high prices and are constantly bombarded with advertisements for cheap, calorically dense, easily accessible food, the decision becomes less of a decision and more of a single option. Families have mouths to feed and bills to pay, after all. 

If the tradition of unhealthy lifestyles that is recurring generation after generation can be uprooted and replaced with an emphasis on smart nutrition and dietary choices in families and providers, the health of our citizens may become as sustainable as the lack thereof has been for years. 

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