The ABC’s of Eating would be a great title for an education course that addresses all of the food groups, the benefits and detriments of those groups and how to ascertain what our individual needs are from each category.
That doesn’t seem like such a difficult concept, but do you see any class being taught that addresses those issues? No, and more than likely you won’t. Because our society doesn’t feel like it is an issue that should be addressed by our education system.
Let me put this proposition before you, however. Has there always been an evident need to learn to drive? No, driving wasn’t around until the turn of the 20th century. Driving is included in the education system, and taught as a matter of course each year. The need to be educated in the ability to drive is relatively new, and is not one of the “old world” school topics, but it’s included because a need developed.
Education about our eating is a need that has developed over the last 30 years, and has now reached epidemic portions. Advertisements about our eating choices are driven by the need to make a profit. The commercials our children are watching have nothing to do with their real nutritional needs, or the foods that actually are good for them to consume. Here is where the educational process should bridge the gap. Just as our education system teaches our children how to count, read, and write, they should teach them about their eating habits. We educate our children because knowledge is power. It provides them with the power they need to make good decisions, acquire jobs, create new products and processes, and to live out their lives as they see fit. Shouldn’t they also have a basic knowledge of how to utilize the food resources around them?
Teaching and educating about the basics of the food groups, how they work with your body, the metabolic process of digesting those foods, how the body uses and stores energy, and how to keep all those processes working at optimal levels is as important as understanding the algebraic theorems and how they apply to our ability to perform mathematically. Determining just where in the education realm that such a class would fit is another matter. Members of the educational system will probably tell you that it simply isn’t a matter of concern for the school system, that it is an issue best addressed at home. But how can it be addressed at home, if the person at home has no knowledge to impart? We don’t just acquire the knowledge needed for intelligent food consumption with the birth of our children.
The basic food groups and what foods fall into each category is a topic lightly addressed during the health classes taught at our middle schools. But what about the metabolic process of digesting those foods, the interaction of the food, the nutrients, and our energy needs? Knowing how to differentiate between what foods will provide both energy, nutrients, and good taste is a learned knowledge. Do you suppose children would continue to stuff something in their mouth if we addressed the consumption of Twinkies in the same way we do dirt?