Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wow.....This is not a TV show. It's really happening to our children.

Since I put my last blog, I wanted to see what kids were really eating. I don't have kids. So, I thought that I had to educate myself before criticizing anything or anybody.

I visited an intermediate school in one of the most wealthy towns in the U.S. Many parents of those students are lawyers, doctors, and successful business owners.

First, all the containers were Styrofoam. I guess they don't do dishes. Water came in plastic bottles, of course. There was NO student using a reusable food container or a canteen. As I watched a long line of students entering the cafeteria, all I could think about was how much non-recyclable plastic trash we would have in the campus within a half hour.

Second, the lunch menus were the choices from; Pepperoni-Cheese Pizza, Meatball Spaghetti, Fried Chickens, French Fries, Corn Dog, Corns, and Garlic Bread. By watching these prepared in the kitchen, I needed Pepto-Bismol. But for those students didn't seem to have that problems. They delightedly grabbed a box of Pizza or a plateful Spaghetti and washed it down with milk or water. They were busy talking each other and not really interested in what are going into their mouths.

I saw a few students had paper bags (lunch bags), so I asked some parents who were observing the scene. They said that their children were happy when the parents didn't have time to prepare lunch for them because they could eat whatever they wanted with their friends. The students were obviously having good time over these fatty greasy zero-nutritious food.

If you have watched a movie called, "Food Inc.", you would think about that hardworking low-income family that had to choose one from a hamburger or a piece of broccoli head. Because most of unhealthy foods are usually cheep and don't require much time to prepare, they chose a hamburger so that they can afford diabetes medications for the man of the house. I feel sorry for those people as much as I feel sorry for starving people in the world while America is feeding corn to make cows and chickens fat.

However, this is not the case. As I mentioned earlier, these students are from wealthy families. They have no problems to buy a bunch of broccoli heads as a side of a main dish. So, I thought they were eating healthy gourmet meals at home and their lunch was just an exception. "No.", said one of the mothers. "They eat pretty much the same things at home."

The problem is that these kids are way too busy. They are busy between school, homework, tutoring, soccer, dance, boy/girl scout, competitions, recitals, and so on. There is no time to sit down "with their family members" at the dining table for a full course meal. Mothers have to make or buy something that their kids can shovel in while they are changing for the next engagement or on the road to get there. Kind of like Rock Stars, you know?

Then, I was more surprised when all the students finished their lunch and left. The cafeteria looked as if Raccoons and Crows had scavenged from a trash can in the park! Food and containers were everywhere on the tables and on the ground. Even if some made it into a trash can, most of recyclable containers didn't quite reach a "Recycle bin", which were placed only a few feet from the regular trash can. Some water bottles were smashed and flattened by foot to be ready to be tossed into the recycle bin, but just lying on the ground right next to the Recycle bin! How could they possibly not notice it???

Sadly, I knew why. It was because there were custodians with blooms and dustpans. Picking up their mess and selecting recyclable items from the trash cans were their jobs, aren't they? Our society, our adult society is teaching those kids "common sense", right?

I had a long talk with one of custodians. She was very sharp and said to me, "I don't let my son go out without cleaning his room first." When I told her how plastic trash would end up in the ocean and kill marine animals, she was so fascinated and started to tell other people about that. I almost felt like screaming. It was because I was sad about those students. But also because I was happy to know that this custodian's son would be very educated! He could be the future officer of our region EPA.

I am lucky that I grew up in the society of "Mottainai"(a Japanese term meaning "a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilized). I had a washable lunch box and canteen. My school used washable dishes and utensils. I had to finish our lunch and clean the table in order to leave the room. If I could not finish my lunch and if the food was savable, I took it home. And that was just common sense to me. What happened to that common sense?

We have become a "Throwaway Society". As our consumption increased, our throwaway habit increased. It fitted into our busy and lazy lifestyle. But this change was not so long ago. Many of us still remember the good old days before this new society.

Throwaway must be stopped before we get buried in landfills, and it must be stopped by us who remember those good old days.

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5star said...
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