I could go in many directions with this topic but today I want to talk about retro meals, old school cooking, you know leftovers. If you were raised by an adult who was a child of the Depression years, (1930’s-mid 1940’s), you knew that no food was wasted. Last night’s chicken leftovers became an ingredient for tonight’s soup. However, today we like to think of this as a new idea, particularly, when we see cookbooks in bookstores bragging about hiding spinach or carrots in brownies. Our parents and grandparents have been playing this trick on us for years, just sayin’. We did not know it was cool. We thought it was annoying, we kept hearing about kids starving in Eastern Europe, as if we knew where that was. Today, our children are reinventing cooking, yet again, by coming up with creative and clever recipes to add healthy vitamins and minerals to recipes to feed themselves and their kids. As President Theodore Roosevelt would say when he liked something, “Bully”.
The problem is, kid’s attitude toward food has not changed much over the years. Sometimes, it still takes quite a lot of convincing to eat at all, much less, eat healthy. The issue belongs to both ends of the economic scale. Fast food chains and convenience stores have taken advantage of this fact by successfully marketing to children and their parents. They do this with low prices, efficiency, colorful and bright environments to eat in, and toys to get parents in the door to purchase their items. Unfortunately, along with these enticements, families also receive unwanted chemical additives, unsafe food colorings and little actual nutrition, and not to forget high levels of sugar, salt and fat. The trouble is finding affordable healthy foods. Many areas of the country, no matter if urban or rural, have few opportunities to access local produce at a reasonable cost. In a review of literature, called “The Grocery Gap-Who Has Access To Healthy Food And Why It Matters”, conducted by The Food Trust and PolicyLink, evaluated the state of access to healthy food in America. It concludes that when fresh fruits and vegetables become available at a reasonable cost to neighborhoods, where none had been before, the citizens in those neighborhoods become healthier. Obesity rates go down in children and adults. Diabetes is controlled and new cases are reduced. Best of all people’s attitudes toward keeping a healthier lifestyle increase as nutrition education is attained.
Finally, childhood obesity was identified and declared a national health problem when it was noticed that for the past three decades the rate of weight gain in children was increased according to the Let’s Move Campaign, spirited by Mrs. Michelle Obama in 2008. Exercising every day, is part of the nutrition education plan for communities to keep healthy. Community farm gardens, which teach neighborhoods to grow your own fruits and vegetables, also help to combat this problem which took decades to create. Food recycling is important for many reasons. So let’s recycle, not only our healthy leftovers into new food dishes, but also bring back some old fashioned ideas like cooking at home and going out to play a game in the park or community center. Wherever you live there must be a way to make this a purpose in your life, and if you are lucky enough to be in a safe area, volunteer or donate to an organization that needs your support.