10 Positive Changes in Nutrition

Backyard Persimmons / momskitchenahdnbook.comI got myself worked into a lather, one that had been brewing for weeks. Mr. Mom’s Kitchen came home to find me ranting. Not about the usual business of damp towels left on bedroom floors or backpacks and other assorted school gear strewn across the living room. This time it was about KFC, the fast food purveyor of all things fried chicken. It was the KFC “Go Go” cup that got to me. A generous plastic “to go” cup filled with fried finger foods marketed as a snack….something to plunk into your car cup holder perhaps, to nibble on as you go about your errands.

A snack? At nearly 600 calories and 28 grams of fat?

My ire had been percolating over other food-related matters, too, like the fact that teenage soft drink consumption is higher than ever, owing in large part to multi-million dollar ad campaigns targeting this lucrative market. Teens’ bones are still forming, people. Leave them alone! And then there’s all the news of late about food waste while much of our country lacks enough to eat.  Heartbreaking.

I wanted to share all this with you and more. Get you in on my rant, feel the frustration, share your own.

But then I remembered something very wise I heard from New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof when I heard him speak several years ago. He was on tour for his book Half the Sky, which portrays stories of hope among some of the most oppressed populations in the world.  He said that focusing on the negative doesn’t motivate change. It causes the public to throw their hands up and ask, “What’s the point?”

So rather than sit for another second on what is so upsetting about the troubling American food culture, I’d like to focus on the hopeful bits. The “moving in the right” direction stuff. We are into the holidays now, it seems only right.

So, I gathered up everything I could think of that is GOOD NEWS and I’m here to lay it on you. If you have some good news that I’ve overlooked, please lay it on me. Maybe if we focus on the positive, over time it will bulldoze what’s really lousy

1.Growing Your Own 

Let’s start with that gorgeous bowl of persimmons. It’s from my backyard tree. What could be more hopeful, especially since growing your own food is good for body, soul, and planet. Interest in homesteading — whether planting an herb garden or playing hostess to a couple of egg-laying chickens  — is generating as much interest as ever.  That’s really good news.

2.  A Decline in Childhood Obesity

After decades of rising rates of obesity among children, several US cities reported a reversal of the trend this year. And obesity among low-income pre-schoolers dropped in 18 states. These are promising signs that the tide may be beginning to turn.

3. A Boost to Farmer’s Market Access

In 2008 just 750 farmer’s markets across the country accepted SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps). Last year the number was up to 3,200 markets, and rising. That means folks who rely on government benefits can choose to spend their food dollars on farm fresh produce. That’s good for them and good for the farmers.

4. Improvements in School Food 

Although school lunch programs have a ways to go, stories abound about efforts to start gardening programs, source from local farms, set up salad bars in cafeterias, and improve the overall offerings for our kids. Most encouraging  are strict new requirements that effectively kick the likes of high-sugar drinks, snack cakes, cookies, and potato chips out of school vending machines and snack carts. Hurrah.

5. Happier Kids Meals 

McDonald’s banished soda from Happy Meals this year. It’s now water, milk, or 100 percent fruit juice.  Tiny victory.

6. Redefining the Convenience Store

Enough with the nachos, hot dogs, and Big Gulps at corner stores, there’s a new kid in town. This year saw the launch of a fresh approach to the convenience store called Green Zebra. Started in Portland, Oregon with big plans for expansion, this new concept runs under the motto, “We only have room for the good stuff.” Take that 7-11.

7. Sliding Soft Drink Sales 

While soda intake among teens continues to rise, overall consumption of non-diet sodas is on the  decline, with notable progress among children ages 2 to 11. Perhaps the teens will catch on to what their younger peers are up to. Let’s hope.

8. Increasing Organics

The organic food market is predicted to continues its rise, with significant annual growth predicted for the next several years. While organic labeling isn’t perfect, it is one of the few guarantees that food is raised or grown without using synthetic pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Hopefully this rise will also make buying organic a little more available and affordable.

9. Banishing the Bad Stuff

Efforts are underway by the FDA to ban trans fats from the food supply altogether. That means you will no longer have to look for those “partially hydrogenated fats” when you read food labels because they won’t be in there. Fingers crossed.

10. Helping HEALTHY Foods Compete 

Healthy foods can now compete on a more level playing field with junk food adversaries when it comes to marketing to kids. Growers and retailers of fresh fruits and vegetables can use the Sesame Street characters to market to kids FOR FREE. No licensing necessary. Who needs Beyonce when you’ve got Big Bird.

 

What good news in food do you have? Even your 5-year-old gobbling down his broccoli counts in my book. Share!

Comments

12.05.2013 at8:05 AM #

Meghan

That IS good news and good advice. Thanks for sharing. My small good news is that I am slowly getting my daughter to eat healthy things she has claimed she “hates” — kale, arugula, whole wheat lavash — thanks in large part to your wonderful recipes. It is all in the preparation. Thank you!

12.05.2013 at8:05 AM #

katiemorford

That is GREAT news. Baby steps works. Good for you for having faith and patience.

12.05.2013 at8:48 AM #

Anne Mullen

Go, Big Bird! and all the others on Sesame Street!

12.05.2013 at8:48 AM #

katiemorford

I think that is my favorite good news of all, Anne.

12.05.2013 at9:03 AM #

Pam R

Thanks for the cheerful news! A nice way to wake up

12.05.2013 at10:07 AM #

Pamela

Thanks for the Good News~~~We need that!

12.05.2013 at1:45 PM #

Kasey

Such a great post, Katie. It’s so easy to get depressed about everything that is wrong in this world. I think we’ve all found ourselves falling into a helpless despair. But I couldn’t agree more with the message of this post: it’s important to focus on the positives (and where we can, move the needle in the right direction).

12.05.2013 at1:45 PM #

katiemorford

I do think that if we can see there is positive change, it can be motivating. Thanks for your thoughts, Kasey.

12.05.2013 at6:21 PM #

TrishInFL

My broccoli hating 5 year old, ASKED me to make broccoli cheese soup! And ‘promised’ she would eat some! Baby steps… Even if she ends up not eating it, at least she’s willing to try, which is all I ask 🙂

12.05.2013 at6:21 PM #

katiemorford

So sweet. Maybe get her to help grate the cheese and stir it into the soup…ownership ups the chances that she’ll want to dig in.

12.05.2013 at7:47 PM #

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom

My great news is that here in Lexington, MA where I live, we have a farm that’s been in the community for literally hundreds of years. Four years ago, the owners sold their land to the town and the town in turn decided to turn the fertile land into soccer fields. I’m a soccer mom, but really? What followed was a multi-year campaign to turn this private, family-owned farm into a community farm. Well, guess what? We won! The town selectman agreed to build four affordable housing units on the land and to give the rest of the land to Mother Nature. Can’t wait for the CSA shares to go on sale!

12.05.2013 at7:47 PM #

katiemorford

That’s amazing Liz. Congratulations. I know that there are stories like that everywhere….thanks for sharing yours.

12.05.2013 at10:20 PM #

julie

I helped my son to choose to drink water rather than sugar filled drinks and soda by placing the drinks and there caloric equals beside one another, talking about healthy daily intake and would you rather sip or chew.

12.05.2013 at10:20 PM #

katiemorford

Way to go. That one small change can make a big impact over the long haul.

12.11.2013 at10:45 AM #

erin @ yummy supper

Katie, I share your outrage at the madness of things like KFC snack cups. Really?!? But I so appreciate your list of good news. We need it. Thank you!
Can’t wait to see you next week!
xoxo
E

12.11.2013 at10:45 AM #

katiemorford

Hey Erin…I also wanted to add another good bit of news is the FDA defining “gluten-free” for labeling purposes. I imagine that would be helpful for you and your followers. 🙂

12.12.2013 at9:27 AM #

Kate

Love this post Katie! Our good news is in our tiny rural North Dakota town we have been able to get enough grant money to provide a fresh fruit or vegetable snack 5 days a week for the K-6 graders. They get to try something new everyday and are getting introduced to all kinds of yummy produce!

12.12.2013 at9:27 AM #

katiemorford

That is great news Kate. All those little local success stories really add up to progress. We don’t always hear about them, but they are out there.

12.16.2013 at9:16 PM #

Aida Mollenkamp

Thanks for pointing out the silver lining!

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