Monday, May 01, 2006

"Chew on This"

Tonight I went to MLK Jr. High to hear Eric Schlosser talk about his new book, "Chew on This". Alice Waters introduced him. The book sounds like a "Fast Food Nation" for the tween set, to make them aware of the health, political, and environmental ramifications of processed food.

Alice, Eric, and Charles did a great job talking about the myriad of issues. The talk was geared to kids and it stirred up strong feelings for me and made me angry.

One thing that really hit home was the fact that fast food, packaged food, and soft drink companies are trying to go around parents to get to kids through their schools. I know how hard companies try to get into schools because, at some of the educational companies I worked at, we also thought the same thing. "Let's get the little people to do the marketing for us."

As a parent who tries, for the most part, to keep Lucas away from junk food, I find this particularly evil and reprehensible. You think you're sending your kid to school for good reasons, and they end up getting preached to by Ronald McDonald or some other "spokesperson".

During the Q&A someone brought up the fact that in some areas, mostly low-income, minority neighborhoods, people only have access to unhealthy food. If you live in West Oakland, there are so many fast food places, liquor cornerstones, but the only grocery store with a produce section is more than 2 miles away. And I can guarantee that they probably don't offer the organic variety, since the organic selection at my local Safeway is pretty pathetic.

I was already aware of this, since I heard a story about it on the radio a few months ago. West Oakland needs a grocery store, but no one really wanted to go into this neighborhood that's plagued with crime.

Although it was nice for Alice and Eric to talk with the folks at MLK Jr. High, home of the Edible Schoolyard and only blocks away from the Gourmet Ghetto, they were already preaching to the choir. I hope they also plan on going to West Oakland and other like neighborhoods to spread their message.

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