Familiar foods with healthier ingredients and reduced sodium is a positive start to improving kids’ menus. (Photo: Las Canarias & Ostra)
In the 1960’s, the healthy part of a “kid’s” meal at a restaurant was the cherry in our Shirley Temples.
And who doesn’t remember slathering cold butter on her crackers as the waiter brought us mini steaks and fries, followed by chocolate pudding with a whipped cream topper. Even dentists gave us a lollipop after a teeth cleaning!
But the world has certainly changed – and not a bite too soon when it comes to curbing America’s child obesity epidemic.
The Fat Fight
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children are mirroring their older role models when it comes to excess weight. For sadly, the obesity rate “has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”
Further, the link between poverty and higher obesity rates is clearly delineated – largely because food deserts, where lower-income families cannot find fresh fruits and vegetables, remain a striking problem in the U.S.
Southern families wouldn’t dream of missing their black-eyed peas on January 1. But where did this tradition come from?
Believe it or not, the custom is over 1,500 years old and hails from Jewish tradition when black-eyed peas were eaten on their new year, Rosh Hashanah. Possibly, Sephardic Jews who emigrated to Georgia, brought the custom with them. And during the Civil War, residents of Vicksburg, Miss. thought they’d run out of food but discovered they had some black-eyed peas — so thereafter, the light brown beauties were considered lucky.
Eating the peas symbolizes good fortune, too, because the dried beans – which is what they actually are – look like coins and when they swell it mimics expanding wealth. Most folk consider eating black-eyed peas a sign of humility, and traditionally this was the food of the common man.
Other New Year’s Day food traditions include eating collard greens, which look like money, indicating economic fortune; in Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility; and in Sweden a variety of fish dishes, black-eyed peas, and at midnight twelve grapes are consumed for luck. The Swedes, like the Norwegians, hide an almond in rice pudding – the one who finds it is guaranteed good luck all year.
With this past summer the hottest on record globally, it’s not hard to sense the tangibles at stake as tens of thousands gather in Paris this week for the UN’s 21st annual Conference of the Parties.
COP21 will bring together world leaders, including presidents Obama and Hollande as well as over 140 other heads of state, as delegates meet in plenary sessions and seek to solve climate change quandaries. Some events, particularly the main marches, were shuttered for security reasons.
Keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius is crucial. Where the food industry is concerned, global warming means disrupted food and water supplies, rising prices, starvation, sickness, and death. The time has never been more pressing to eat seasonally, locally, and with sustainability in mind.