childhood obesity

Helping Their Gardens and Students Grow

September 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm , by

AHAgarden31Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, environmental and health activist Kelly Meyer decided to stop complaining about the lack of healthy options for her children and do something about it.

With friends in Los Angeles she started Teaching Garden, an initiative to put gardens and corresponding nutrition curricula in local schools. She thought the best way to teach healthy habits from the start would be to provide kids with a garden, where they could learn hands-on about where food really comes from: “the ground, not the vending machine or the cereal box,” Meyer says.

Studies show that healthy kids perform better in school, and with 1 in 3 American children now obese, it’s clear more schools could use a program like this one.

As part of the kickoff of NBC’s Education Nation summit Monday, Teaching Garden and the American Heart Association (AHA) invited a group of New York City schoolchildren to Rockefeller Center to announce their goal of putting 1,000 gardens in schools across the country over the next two years. That’s Meyer, above, far left, with AHA chairperson Debra Lockwood, TV funnyman Jimmy Fallon and 5th graders from KIPP Infinity School. Read more

How to Grow Healthy Kids? Start With Dirt. (And get them cooking!)

March 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm , by

Scott baking a cakeIn my recent post on the “slow home” movement, I scoffed at the idea of trading grocery-shopping for home-grown-vegetable-picking.  Farming on my tiny New York City deck? Yeah, right. Or so I felt then. Now, I’m not only determined to grow vegetables, I want to grow uncommon ones. Rutabagas, darn it. Purple cauliflower. Zebra tomatoes. Can starfruit grow in Brooklyn?

The reason for my turnaround: an amazing “TED talk” presentation from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He convincingly argues that diseases that are influenced by bad eating habits are the #1 killers in America—and that it’s a health crisis we can easily address.

He included some eye-opening videos. The one that really got me was his trip to what appears to be a second-grade classroom. Jamie holds up a variety of vegetables, asking the kids to identify them. First were tomatoes on the vine.  Do you know that not ONE of the kids in that classroom was able to identify a TOMATO?

Same with beets, cauliflower, eggplant. And the capper, he holds up a baking potato. “Do you know what this is?” he asks a young boy. No clue. It made me cry. How much processed food must they eat? “Normal,” Jamie said. And I’m sure he’s right.

Now, I like a quarter-pounder with cheese—and fries with that—as much as the next red-blooded American. Read more