Monday, April 11, 2005

The Right Foods Pt III

My righteous brother Sha-King has been addressing the issue of proper diet in his blogspot ( I wanted to add on as I bear witness that the slogan "you are what you eat" is relevant to the reality that many of us live. Starting with myself and my family I have constantly sought to impress upon those whom I come in contact with the importance of the right foods; physical to mental, mental to physical.

In the inner city where many of us live or were raised diet is not stressed unless one comes from a way of life that promotes a specific dietary law. Growing up in the Ville section of New Haven I thought the four food groups were salt, sugar, artifical color, and grease. Such a diet leads to one starving to death from lack of proper nutrients and obesity. You can just do the Knowledge to the youth today in comparisson to the world stage and realize that the wrong foods coupled with the lack of physical activity is 'killing us softly'. This manifests itself as diabetes, high blood pressure, taxed kindneys, livers, etc.. Add to this the living conditions in the ghetto; lead paint, roaches (which promote asthma), etc... This isn't limited to original people in the inner city. Many original people, despite their economic levels, are the heirs to a faulty food legacy where 'soul food' or 'spanish food', etc.. is a part of their definition of self. From the lack of Knowledge we are killing our selves. What is even worse is that we are killing our babies.

In another post I will get into the research that connects many of the aspects of ADHD to diet. What I will say is that it is illegal to give your child vitamins in their lunch to take to school yet it is perfectly legal for you to send them to school with a whole bunch of candy. The neighborhood stores, in my area, are run by many whom classify their selves as muslims yet they constantly sell items that are Haram.

Well God, what do we do???

One neighborhood that I was working in and living the corner store sold a can of beans to a family that was filled with maggots. We found out later that it was a 'common' thing yet no one ever did anything because they felt that they didn't have any power. When they were shown that they had power they basically got that store owner expelled from the neighborhood. They had also formed such a strong union that the next owner was on his toes about making sure that his items were 'right'. The next level, in any type of operation like that would be to be in the position to put someone in the neighborhood into the position of ownership of the neighborhood store.

Around my way I approached the store owners of the corner store about serving pork in their store. They were 'suprised' that I knew a bit about their restrictive laws. I made sure that others came with me each time to 'question them'. With each inquiry they became a little more watchful. I finally convinced them to look at the science of supply and demand. People around my way like 'bacon'. They really don't care if it is pork or turkey. If the store would supply turkey bacon the people would still buy because of convience. In time it would be up to the poor righteous teachers to bring the Understanding. The store only serves turkey products now.



Anonymous said...

Peace to the Gods & Earths!

my name is Master Sha Divine Allah from C-Medina, and your blog on the right foods is right and exact, I stress the same things to the youth in my neighborhood,and especially to the Arabs who run the corner store, I posed the same question to them and their response was "this is what the people eat" and my response was "How do you know this? if the shoe was on the other foot,you would'nt stand for Blacks to open a store in your area and sell liquor would you?" unfortunately, the devil planted fear in the people of my `hood when they were babies, however I continue to perform my duty as a civilized person and teach the youth the meaning of civilization.


earth said...

Peace All,

Indeed! To add… allow me to make my knowledge known that the wrong foods are being fed to our children by that which often proclaims to be the “beacon of right”…the public school system.

I am Kahelah Symmetric Earth and I rest in Love Allah. I build with the babies as a fourth-grade teacher at 99th Street Elementary School. I work deep in the inner city in Watts, CA. I have observed the nutritional inequality of the school lunches served to students within a single school district. Los Angeles has a massive school district which spans many miles, encompassing a very diverse range of socioeconomic communities. At my school, 100% of the students receive free lunch (with the exception, that is, of my own son, who is a Kindergarten student there). Apparently, the school district’s idea of “equality” is that free lunch = free-of-all/any-nutritional-substance lunch.

On the “other side of town” is the elementary school where my daughter graduated from last year. There, very few students qualified for free/reduced lunch, and, respectively, this was equated by the school district as “quality lunch”. At my daughter’s school the children were given meal “choices”, with three main entrees to choose from. The vegetables and fruit looked fresh and they provided non-meat selections. Each month students received a detailed lunch menu, delineating the meal selections for the month (and pork products, such as pepperoni pizza and Jell-O, were marked on the menu with an asterisk). (note that irrespective of the “quality” of the food served at her school, I still packed lunch each day for my daughter).

So what’s the message?

I’ve made a deliberate effort to make time to do the knowledge to my students during their “nutrition time” (lunch). Often, I will sit with them at their lunch table and look, listen, observe and respect.

I LOOK at the quality of the food they are served. It is despicable. The babies are served old, dry fruit and vegetables (which are often visibly white because they are so dried out). They are served bread that is gooey, obviously undercooked (it’s nasty…I’ve sampled it). I’ve seen the expired date stamp on their milk (which, by the way, is served in a heat-sealed plastic baggie type thing, which they jab their straw into to drink). It is not uncommon that I hear the unknowing cafeteria ladies beckon students back to the window as they take their tray without the “meat” portion of the meal. “Excuse me,” they say, “you need to take your meat.” And the “meat”…FOUL! (not fowl), straight up. I don’t even knowledge what “kind” of meat it is, yet just the smell of it is enough to make my stomach turn somethin fierce!

I LISTEN to the children stand for their justice. “They serve us prison food,” some say. “This is gross…look, the meat looks green…my dog wouldn’t even eat this.” And then there’s the group of students who go without eating lunch altogether, “I don’t eat that stuff,” they explain.

I OBSERVE the effects of the wrong foods. Post lunchtime is where I observe a tremendous shift in my students’ activity and productivity. The effects of the food are quite polarized. One group of students return from lunch extremely “hyperactive”. They can hardly sit still or focus and are noticeably “jittery”. Then, there’s another cluster of students who become strikingly lethargic after “nutrition time”. I have observed students come back from lunch, barely able to hold their heads up, drained, “zoned out”. And finally, you have the students who didn’t eat who are just distracted overall because they are hungry. On the strength, the effects are so drastic, I knowledge that I need to get the bulk of my teaching done before lunch, because the students productivity and activity shifts so drastically afterwards.

And, finally, I RESPECT the children for their strength. In just doing the knowledge to them, I realize just how knowledgeable they are about the social inequalities and injustices that exist, which often result in their detriment. They realize that things aren’t right and exact. They knowledge that they deserve much better. They communicate this clearly. The problem is…they are children who go unheard within a SYSTEM, which systematically deems them politically powerless in the grand scheme of things.

Yet, I take this knowledge to effect wisdom, focusing on what CAN be done to EMPOWER the youth…

I teach nutrition as part of my curriculum. I make time to ensure that this is part of our classroom culture.

I model wise eating habits.

I keep water in the classroom and never deny children access to it.

I hold quarterly parent meetings where I make knowledge born to the parents about the food served by the school. I encourage them to inquire more about it, and provide as much information that I have to them. I encourage them, when possible, to send their children to school with nutritious alternatives and work to get them actively involved in the process of demanding better for their children.

I implement nutrition programs in my classroom. We have “Banana Mondays”, where each Monday I bring bananas for my students to eat first thing in the morning. We also have “Brown Baggin-it Fridays”, where once a month, on a Friday, I will pack my students homemade brown-bag lunches, filled with the right foods (it can be costly, yet definitely worth it).

I challenge my students to think beyond the textbook and take action. During a “Business” literature unit, the students wrote letters to the school district, making their knowledge born about the poor quality of the school food. During a “Communication” literature unit, my students have gone on strike for a day, not eating the school food, to communicate their dissatisfaction with the meals they are served.

The point is, we need to be aware of the foods our babies are fed at home AND abroad. Let’s not ignore the truth of what is happening at school. Our babies are being fed the wrong foods. They rightfully deserve better. We must do our duty to ensure justice.