Monday, May 30, 2011

Political Influence on School Lunch: Fixing the Mess


At the outset, altering school environments appears a quick solution for the obesity problem; however, it is not to discount the community and government aspect of the ecological model. It is arguable that public policy at the federal, state, and local levels wields equal if not greater influence over the decisions that schools and districts make in terms of the physical education and school meal programs. The presence of competitive foods (Mellow, M, Pomeranz, J,& Moran, P, 2008) is also becoming a debated public health topic. As most students attend public schools, and public schools are directly influenced by government funding and policy, the fundamental role of the government is not to be downplayed.

When it comes to physical education, the United States has no law requiring physical education to provided to students, nor are there or have there been incentives for districts to offer physical activity programs. (Story, 2009) Existing legislation, such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, promotes the equal access of girls and boys to existing programs in districts. (Story, 2009) The No-Child Left Behind Act, 2001, is criticized for its exclusion of physical and health education from school subjects to be graded for achievement (Story, 2009) Thus, many schools in the U.S. simply do not have the incentive to make physical education periods mandatory for students. NCLB does, however, have the Carol M. White Physical Education Program division that offers grants for school programs. This requires districts to overcome more bureaucratic hurdles in order to get the funding they need for programs that may help the children they service.

Second, many assert that the US Food Environment simply must be improved at federal and state levels both inside and outside of schools. The US government allots money in the form of subsidies to the meat, dairy, corn, and wheat industries while awarding very few subsidies to fruit and vegetable farmers (Rampell, 2010). The allotment of subsidies simply does not reflect the nutritional needs of human beings. Processed foods made of subsidized corn and wheat are artificially cheap, vegetables appear artificially expensive in the eyes of those who do not understand the political environment of food in the United States. (Kenner, 2008) As inflation affects food prices, fruits and vegetables continues to become more expensive, while the price of corn and wheat products has actually decreased. That is, corn-syrup sweetened sodas and cookies made of flour. Restructuring the federal subsidy system will make the budgeted $2.47 (Story, 2009) per “free” school lunch meal go much farther in purchasing healthful foods.

Finally, competitive foods are an issue unique to the US school meal system in that they are not regulated to the same standards of nutrition content as subsidized meals unless they are being sold during meal time. This is according to a 1970 amendment to the Child Nutrition Act. (Mello, M, Pomeranz, J,& Moran, P, 2008) School districts accept contracts with large food and beverage companies in order to support their programs. The formal policy described by Mello’s article is the non-policy of food and beverage giants choosing the path of “self-regulation” which does not serve the interests of the public when their products contribute to the public health risk that is childhood obesity.

Nickelodeon Nostalgia: Rocko's Modern Life

Rocko's Surreal Life by *grungepuppy on deviantART

I guess I'm starting to get so old that I can document the 90s as if they are some sort of far of time. They do feel a bit far off when I come in touch with the television shows that shaped me into... the lovely person I am today :P

Well today I guess I'll give you all a blast of the past, Rocko's Modern Life. Just for those who fondly remember Rocko, Spunky, Heifer, and the promise of a job at Conglomo before Conglomo jumped ship and swam to the overseas markets.

Hopefully it makes people who were a kid during that time feel a little warm and fuzzy. What happened to programming for young people today? Is it massively lower in quality, or is that just me? No shows like these have come on the scene since Spongebob at the beginning of the new millennium.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Natto Recipe Worked

So, in a recent blog post "" there was a recipe detailing how to make natto at home. I am happy to announce that the recipe worked just great and I'm now enjoying natto sans wasting styrofoam. I think I made the equivalent of about twenty to thirty single-serving packages in about 2 days. I need to experiment with fermentation temperature and time, it's not quite as slimy as I would like, and it's important to cook the beans until they are pretty soft- but it came out great for a first time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sugar, The Bitter Truth: By Dr. Lustig

When low fat is really high fat.

Very interesting.

Dr. Mercola introduced the video on his website. Moral of the story: all sugar is horrible for health but especially fructose and carbohydrates that can only be metabolized by the liver. They are in essence chronic toxins.

No wonder I got PCOS being raised on the government sanctioned school meal plan. Luckily I drive my food choices these days. And if I were not so sensitive, I may not need to try such a low carb Japanese diet. But I stand revised on my previous post about the Japanese diet, as most of the carbohydrates are glucose which the Dr. above asserts gives energy to every cell in the body (besides the fact that it can be metabolized outside of the liver.)

Makes me wish that I had gotten far enough to study biochem. But C- ed my way out of o-chem.