Just about every celebrity chef, politician and food company has joined the latest food revolution to combat childhood obesity and reverse the unhealthy trend within one generation.
Our schools, long forgotten, have been rediscovered and revitalized through high-profile and well-documented visits from the likes of Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver and Rachael Ray. Camera crews now find themselves juggling to fit their equipment within the confines of school cafeterias and kitchens to get that money shot on an almost daily basis.
Food companies are signing on to lower calories, sodium and sugars across product lines, and our supermarkets are highlighting healthier options in-store and on their websites.
This is terrific; and a valiant effort. But I worry that in some cases all this star power and fervor is little more than the current tool to get “no-lose” publicity and these high-profile programs will disappear once the next big trend appears over the horizon. And we cannot afford to let that happen.
There are many great programs underway. In our schools, individuals including Oliver and Ray are committed and putting their money and time on the line. Both are creating change and are making progress. Michel Nischan worked long and hard to create the Wholesome Wave Foundation, which provides funding for communities with a Double Value Coupon Program for those on food stamps or in WIC programs when they buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
It appears to me that for the first time, the entire food chain is focused on the same objective and the programs are all about substance. We are making inroads that empower individuals, young and old, to make the changes we so desperately need. We could all win, after all.
This is not an easy task to accomplish, which is why we must have consistency and a long-term commitment from farm to table. Our nation must reorient the way we look at our foods; and it is time to retrain our taste buds to enjoy more than just sugars, salt and fat.