This 1st Grade Class
Doesn't Recognize A Tomato or Potato
This video clip is from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution new Friday night series. Incredible, isn't it?
Now let's jump into what some hot new research elsewhere shows:
Fatty Foods May Cause A Cocaine-like Addiction
"A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction."
Well, doesn't that explain a lot, and why so many behinds hang over the seats at every eatery and theater in every mall in the country.
And no, it won't explain jack if you're a bigot, and if you categorize all white West Virginians (as seen in the film) as being stupid, which is as bad as thinking of all black folks as dumb. If you have that hater mentality, maybe you'll like this far-fetched futuristic scenario I thought of:
"Oh, they're crackheads?"
"Lock their azzes up anyway, for the children's sake."
Well, there ain't enough jails or rehabs to hold 'em all.
Politics aside, people are people first. All of us are in this ride together, and like a sinking ship, we'll go down together if we can't repair it and set a new course. The problem is not with the passengers, but the design of everything we absorb, from all things media, to the foods we consume.
Now I'm going to view this clip from one African American perspective - mine - and give you yet another reason to laugh at me.
The first thing I thought was thank goodness are hardly any of those kids are black. This is because we can't enjoy watching a fellow black person's shortcomings or for him or her to screw up on YouTube and laughing about it without reading 180 comments about how it applies to all of us. Well, we all have some area of not knowing something.
When I went to a far away, predominantly white university long ago, at not quite 18 years of age, I was 5'6 and weighed all of 115 pounds. Sounds skinny by today's standards, but back then I was considered "slender". Anything over 140 at that height was considered "fat" on a girl. My oh my, but how times have changed...
Next to the dorm was a really nice cafeteria. The food was free, and you could eat anything and as much of it as you wanted, including the soft custard style ice cream cones. They had a wonderful variety of what would now be described as 'home cooked' because the foods were fresh. I couldn't understand why the sistas at my table often bitched about the food; they didn't think it had that home cooked feel to it, but they came from rural areas or their folks did and probably used different seasonings.
My mom, on the other hand, was a born and bred DC gal, just like her mother, and she worked 8 to 5. What she cooked was all I ever knew, so it tasted good to me. Her menu was very limited, and salt, pepper, and hot sauce was the extent of her seasoning.
So one evening, I'm pushing my tray through the cafeteria line, and I see a really funny looking vegetable.
"What's dat?", I ask the black cafeteria worker.
"Dat? You don't know?"
"No ma'am," I replied politely, shaking my head.
I let the word roll around in my mouth to get a feel for it, while she was trying to figure out if I was pulling her leg.
"Hmmm, broccoli," I repeated. "Never heard of that vegetable. How's it taste?"
"You'd have to try it,
I loved it. The next time I talked with my parents, I asked them why they never bought any.
My mother did what she usually did when something involved race and class: she played stupid. It was her way of protecting me.
"Uh, I don't know," she lied. "Never thought about it."
My parents had been long divorced, so later I asked my dad. He seemed a little uncomfortable too. What the hell could be so complicated about broccoli? I nudged him gently.
"I like it," he said, "but, well, it's white folks food."
"Oooh," I said. "Like salad!"
"Well, since you like it, why didn't you buy it or get Mom to buy it?"
"I don't know if they sell it in our stores," he explained, "and she was kind of touchy about me bringing home leftovers from any of the white parties I used to work at to pick up extra money."
He need not explain any further. Like him, she was a child during the Great Depression. Leftover food from others, even if it didn't come off someone's plate, reminded her of poverty and her widowed mother's struggle to survive, especially between her two marriages.
From Land of Milk & Honey To The Land of French Fries, Fast Food & Tears
This is only one way how food habits take root in a family, and continue from one generation to the next regarding clear food preferences.
To this day, I don't see white folks elbowing me out of the way at the kale bin at the grocery store, and even fifteen years ago only one of my white coworkers knew about it, but otherwise the world changed in the blink of an eye, cutting through race and class.
Grocery stores expanded into huge chains. Fast food restaurants became the norm, and they fried up everything, even those pre-made "hot apple pocket pies". Cheese became very big. Fry anything and load some cheese on it, and wa-laa! Even better, you could wash it down with a thick milkshake, or a diet soda if you were "watching your waistline."
We used to be 'customers'. Just as slaves got renamed when they hit this country, now our new name was 'consumers'. Ain't that revealing? The ad companies symbolically painted a target on every American's back and made us targets for selling processed foods.
When that trend first began, my mama and I were watching a food commercial. It looked so good, whatever it was.
"Mama, we should get some of that!"
She replied, "How come they never advertise carrots?"
Dang she could be funny, even in those teaching moments.
Microwave ovens, pre-packaged frozen foods, and more abundant, mass-produced foods invaded the culture. We can thank or curse technology, insecticides, hormone growth chemicals and genetically modified foods.
For the first time, all races and classes could buy anything in any grocery store, no matter what the neighborhood racial demographics were in your zip code, and, thanks to desegregation and an influx of immigrants, people could shop everywhere.
Sadly, for the first time, an awful lot of people lost the art of eating well... we now have white kids who don't recognize broccoli and black kids who don't recognize kale, and neither who knows what a potato looks like. I'd venture a guess that this ability was killed in The Land of French Fries.
What we're seeing in the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution clip is a second or third generation of kids whose grandparents undoubtably knew all about vegetables and healthy eating, because healthy eating was all they had.
I'm won't speak about the kids in that video per se since I don't know their folks, but I will of the next generation of millions of Americans. We have way more food options, and processed foods are tasty and addictive, and have trumped out the healthy foods.
Like killing and plucking a chicken, or milking a cow, the art of consistently choosing wholesome foods has become obsolete among many adults, possibly including a well known black blogger we lost several days ago, Undercover Black Man, who in real life was David Mills, writer for The Wire and co-producer for an upcoming series, 'Treme.
UBM once said to one of his favorite verbal sparring bloggers, "Yo DV, go eat your veg-gies while I grub on some scrapple and head cheese. Yeah, I might get cardiovascular disease, but when I die they'll still be talkin' 'bout me...", to which DV, a food purist, replied, "When you die, I keep living..."
Now, I love me some wild debates where bloggers challenge one another (with the exception of trolls), but that conversation haunts me because it was prophetic. I get the impression that it's killing DV that UBM is gone, only at 48 years old with so much life, and so much fun to fight with.
I think of the many friends I know who have weight-related health problems, some quite serious. The thing is, I worry about them, more than I do myself, and that makes me nice, but a bit of an idiot.
You see, it's easy for me to do double-think when it comes to my own health, i.e., "I can be more vigilant tomorrow, next week, next month, if I get sick... oh, eff it, I probably won't get sick and I'm not really fat... just need to lose 20 pounds, and my blood pressure only gets high when I'm really stressed, and yada yada yada."
It's all bullshit, the same you hear from any addict.
Not eating healthy has hit a new low and apparently become The New Ignorance among many of our children. How can they not be ignorant, when adults somehow forgot to mention what real food looks like?
How can they, or we, "recover" when high calorie, fatty foods cause a cocaine-like addiction?
And that, my friends, is not gender, race or class-based. Truth be told, alcohol and drugs aren't either. All that mess hijacks parts of the brain, the part that says more, more, more!
Finally, here is a non-partisan, race and class free area that affects us and our kids on a biological level. Can't get any more basic than that. Here's were we can find common ground, and maybe, a way for us to repair that sinking ship together. What an opportunity.
Here are three bloggers I like whom specialize in delicious recipes, which happen to be healthy. Check them out:
Honorable Mention To Coolio:
Ya know, sometimes the only way to start is to start where someone is. For that 'hood brotha or sista in your life whose eyes glaze over their Big Macs when you mention the phrase, "healthy eating", send them to Cookin With Coolio. While his style and humor ain't for everyone, he most definitely knows his veggies and his way around the kitchen. Aside from a few artery-clogging recipes (especially his garlic cheese bread), his stuff looks good.