Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday 4/20: Chicken Nuggets

The menu reads as follows: Chicken nuggets, tater tots, seasoned veggie, wheat bread, banana

What they got: Chicken nuggets, tater tots, broccoli and cauliflower mix, wheat bread and a banana.

This is the first meal since my little project started that I've seen fresh broccoli and cauliflower being served in our school! I was definitely very happy to see the kids being offered something unprocessed and un-canned! Maybe someone is really listening!

Today, I also managed to check out the ingredient list on the wheat bread that is being offered to the kids. I was curious to see where our kids were getting their whole grains from and now I know that it's not from the whole wheat bread!

Coincidentally, yesterday in the media one of the topics of discussion was all about debunking misleading food labels. The following excerpt was taken from a piece on Huffington Post: 9 Most Misleading Food Labels: 
The USDA recommends that consumers “make half your grains whole.” Many products emphasize “Made With Whole Grains” on packaging, and even use dark brown colors and deceptive names to indicate a product is associated with the health benefits of whole grains. Unfortunately, most of these food items actually have ordinary refined wheat flour as their main ingredient, as they are not required to disclose the percentage of whole grains versus refined grains.

Although still a vague indicator as to the amount, one safeguard is to check the listed ingredients. Ingredients must be listed in order of predominance, so if something like “Enriched Wheat Flour” is first, but “Whole Wheat Flour” is further down the list, you can be sure there isn’t a large amount of whole grain in the product.
So there you have it, just because it says wheat it doesn't actually mean it's healthy. The kids are more than likely getting little to no whole grains in their daily breakfast and lunch at school. Which leaves one other meal in the day to get all the whole grains they need to support a healthy growing body! Further down on the list you'll notice high fructose corn syrup and bunch of other ingredients I can't actually pronounce. Michael Pollan, award-winning author and one of my favorite experts on food issues has this to say:
If You Can't Say It, Don't Eat It
Don't buy products with more than five ingredients or any ingredients you can't easily pronounce
I've been reading ingredient lists for at least the last two years and there are certain things I avoid completely- as in don't buy the product, ever! On my list so far is:
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (refined and highly processed sugar
  • MSG  (flavor enhancer)
  • Tartrazine (food coloring- yellow)
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (trans-fats)
  • Sodium Nitrates (preservative)

A shocking little factoid about Sodium Nitrates:
 Sodium nitrate is used as an ingredient in fertilizers, pyrotechnics, as an ingredient in smoke bombs, as a food preservative, and as a solid rocket propellant, as well as in glass and pottery enamels. The compound has been mined extensively for those purposes.  
WTF? Wow!  This stuff gets around...from bombs to glass to's all the same!

The real hard work is still to come though. My meeting with the district was postponed till next week. This is where we will present our case for the establishment of a the Hoboken Wellness Committee.

Also, just wanted to say thank you for all the great comments some of you are leaving. I appreciate the support and always welcome feedback! Cheers!

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