Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When Kids Learn About Food

The LA Times has an inspirational article on food in our educational system. Alice Waters is a force in organic food and environmental concerns with respect to restaurants. She started the obsession with seasonal, organic foods in restaurants, and has trained some of the most talented chefs in the country. Now, she's working on the little minds and tummies of the country. Her non-profit Chez Panisse Foundation opened an "Edible Schoolyard" at a Berkeley public middle school, and they're now working on a similar project at a New Orleans charter school.

"The students grow food in the on-campus garden and cook it in an on-campus kitchen. Teachers use the experience for lessons in nutrition, biology, math and even the social sciences, as they scrutinize where food comes from and who grows it."

What I would give to have had this opportunity in school. Speaking as a graduate of the Los Angeles public school system, I don't see how food and nutrition can be so overlooked in our educations. As noted above, it can be such a useful tool in addressing so many other important educational elements like biology and math. Finances, also grossly overlooked, could be taught be taught by analyzing the cost of growing versus buying food. Besides, eating well is a crucial part of health, so it would behoove anyone to be more exposed to good, real food instead of Cheetos. I'm just saying.

An interesting point in the article was the charter school's ability to incorportate this creative learing tool.
"The project shows how a New Orleans public school -- a charter school, that is -- can react nimbly and creatively when approached with a novel idea. Before Katrina, the city's public school system was a disaster: Only 26% of its eighth-graders were proficient in reading. It was also, in the words of an Urban Institute study, 'famously mismanaged and corrupt,' having turned to an outside rescue firm to take over its business functions just before the storm."

The ridiculously large Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is a dinosaur approaching it's end. It's too large to function properly, and kids suffer as a result. As new parents, we're obviously hyperconscious about schools these days, which is one of the reasons we like Santa Monica. As its own city, it offers its residents small, well-funded schools with an abundance of resources and extracurricular activities. I'd like to see more schools in Los Angeles benefit from the virtues of being small.


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Wow, I completely agree. Can you believe with the obesity epidemic out there that organic, healthy food isn't served more or all over?


MetaMommy said...

It's really frustrating. But considering where schools are right now, the baby steps to get back to a healthy place is hard. Step 1...step away from the Cheetos. Step 2...put down the Coke.
Walk away...just...walk...away.