Now... excuse me, Ching? What problem are we attacking here?
The answer to that question is: the profligacy of unhealthy foods in schools.
And the simple solution to the problem is.... well... there isn't one; for "The road is not paved" (phrase that came up in a previous meeting with the Community Food Lab and Mr. Small).
Following my friend and fellow Food Ark adherent, Celia, I stepped through the entrance of the door and into the creative compound (as described in article 1, and 2) where the Community Food Lab lives and grows. Already, I see that two of my other Food Ark members, Sabrina and Daniel, are here chatting and laughing with the others who were there. I sighed in relief and shock, both of which quickly subsided; who am I to think that Sabrina and Daniel, of all people, would be apprehensive about mingling? As soon as I greeted Mr. Maurice Small, Mr. Erin White, Ms. Laura Miller, and the others who were already there, including Ms. Jamison and her son (I will publish a post about <-- very very soon!), the last member, Justin, of that night's group representing my club entered. Another sigh of relief. FYI, this is the second official "Event" that my club has participated in - the first was the cucumber gleaning - so I was still getting the hang of how to actually go about opening up the "Food" community. One step at a time!
That is exactly what Erin did with the workshop. After everyone had arrived, we walked over to the meeting area and each person occupied a comfy little chair. Erin introduced himself, what grade he was going into (his response was very clever: "I sometimes feel super knowledgeable like a graduate student, but other times, I feel like I'm still trying to figure it out, like I'm in kindergarten."), and his favorite fruit (mango; about 4 people said that their favorite fruit was mango). Everyone followed his lead, revealing deep and dark secrets. Of course my father was the one to innovate by misunderstanding "fruit" for "food" so he said that he used to love fanta and twinkies, but after being enlightened with healthy food, he now loves freshly baked bread and watermelon. His response was what the whole booklet is supposed to be about: how to show people that unhealthy foods are bad and healthy foods are the right way to go (in all different aspects from physical benefits to financial benefits) and how to make sure those people stay on the healthy train for the long-run.
|The students hard at work!|
We were given these long sheets of paper after our introduction and we were asked to write down where we can find "food" in terms of learning about food and health, to where "food" should be. I wrote down everything from textbooks, to posters, and from school gardens to trashcans. Textbooks because students, the next generation, should know how to eat and what to eat to live a successful and healthy life. Posters because if textbooks fail to attract the eye of a busy and/or lazy student, posters are concise and appealing enough to give that student a lesson within 10 seconds of looking at it. School gardens because I know people who believe that cucumbers are not grown but made and that, my friend, needs to be changed; and what better way of doing it than to let everyone experience the cycle of food first-hand? Trashcans because everywhere ranging from school cafeterias to home kitchens, perfectly edible and good food is wasted. That food can go to feed those who do not have the luxury of throwing away our precious resources (That should be everyone because everyone should be aware of the fact that wasting anything will come back to "haunt" them in all sorts of ways - economically, physically, environmentally. It is, on a rudimentary level, karma.). We were then asked to partner with the person sitting next to us to go over what each other has - comparing and contrasting. I was surprised that I forgot all about where we actually BUY the food that fuels our bodily mechanisms! Supermarkets, farmer's markets, convenience stores! What they have and how they place their food influences the buyer! Erin brought up the good point that that is why most stores stack their checkout counters with the junkiest things out there. Convenience + tastefulness. What more do people want??
|Parents engaging in activities|
|Students hard at work 2.0|
|Pictured: Celia, Daniel, Justin (me in the background ;))|
|What do we have??|
|Connecting all the food-related places to one another!|
After the short exercise, it was time for sharing. The students automatically went to the idiosyncrasies of cafeteria food: how bad it is for your health, how easily accessible it is, how processed it is, how weird it tastes (3 notes: salty, sweet or oily), etc. They also brought up the need for schools to implement organic foods, no GMOs, and health classes that actually enforce health rather than have you blindly memorize boring facts for tests, as well as school gardens. The adults, on the other hand, focused more on healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods and how to get everyone to switch from a soda a meal to fruits and veggies three times a day. All in all, we must all remember that each and every person has their own perspectives that are shaped from their own experiences and backgrounds.
|Giving our inputs on the booklet so far|
|Sabrina trying to explain why the character has a head of broccoli for his/her nose (it was amusing)|
|Just a bit of what we came up with in terms of our perspectives|
I won't go into too much detail about the booklet, because it comes out soon (early fall!) however, I will tell you what it is aimed to do.
We have seen in everywhere from reality to movies that people have this weakness when it comes to junk food. How can we, as people who believe that healthy food should be more highly prioritized, "convert" others to adopt the ways of the future? Well, we cannot, because the decision of conversion is ultimately up to that person. But what we can do is to try to persuade them using sturdy facts supporting that converting to a healthier lifestyle permanently benefits THEM in every aspect of life: physicality, mentality, financially, socially, etc. The booklet will appeal to people of all ages and will be a game-changer if put into the hands of the administration. This way, students and parents can see the merit of living healthily in school and at home. Let's change the game.