Mom and Dad could buy fresh fruit and veggies only if they could get enough to feed four people for the same price they would pay for a fast-food meal at a local drive-through. At $1.49/lb, the apples didn't hold up to that 99 cent burger, fries and Coke meal.
The child who craved the apple has Type II diabetes, the kind that used to afflict older people. Like so many of today's children, her life expectancy is shorter than her parents'. Her dad has diabetes too. His medications take a huge chunk of the family's income, far more than they can afford. So they take all their meals in the car, driving through, paying at the window, 99 cents each. Maybe Dad gets a bigger, slightly more costly meal.
unhealthiest city in the United States, where almost half the grown-ups are obese, where diabetes and heart disease stalk nearly everyone, Jamie Oliver asked six year olds to name the shiny, red vegetables in his hand.
No one knew.
Not one child.
How about this one? He held up a potato. No takers. Big, purple thingy? Maybe it's a turnip. Oliver gave them a hint. First word in its name is egg. "I know, I know!" said one kid in the back. "Egg salad!"
Beets, mushrooms. Cauliflower. Not one child knew the name of even one of the foods Oliver showed them. Not one.
See for yourself.
If these children have never seen a tomato, let alone tasted one, when will they discover its mystery, that it is a fruit disguised as a vegetable? And if they've only tasted greasy pizza, hamburgers that look like they were cloned in a plastic food factory, and syrupy soda pop, how many severely delicious delights have they missed already in their young lives?
Have their taste buds, unaccustomed to the nuances of fresh, whole foods, atrophied? If you sliced open a tree-ripened pear and handed it to them, then handed them a tea rose, would their olfactory glands be developed enough to tell the difference? Would they smile and inhale deeply? Could they revel at the spurt of sweet, flavorful juice of a just-picked, perfectly ripe strawberry, warm from the sun? Will they ever have the chance to experience a strawberry that actually has flavor and juice?
Building Ordinary is going to take a lot more work than I thought.
Thankfully, Oliver is on the job. So is Chef Ann Cooper, and Chef Alice Waters with her Edible School Yard project, and so many others, perhaps you among them.
In his TED prize acceptance speech, Oliver says if one of us teaches three others to cook a few simple, inexpensive meals at home, and they teach three others, who teach three others, in just 25 turns, everyone in the country will know how to cook affordable, healthy meals at home, and we can begin to give our children the gift of a longer life, perhaps as long as we older Americans can hope to live.
So to get started, I will begin sharing, now and then, some of the cheap, extremely simple meals we eat in our house.
What about you? Got any ideas for teaching three people to cook inexpensive, wholesome meals at home?
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.