Monday, February 7, 2011

Does Your School Have An Eating Disorder? Part One of Three

I was going to call this posting "culture of fat" because now that I am looking with eyes wide open I see clearly that this culture of fat, a school wide eating disorder, is not just in the school lunches or the poison food kids consume at the local junk mart. It's part of every single event sponsored by the school.

I recently attended several middle school basketball games. At halftime all of the younger kid were invited onto the basketball court to participate in the free throw contest. That looked like fun. I thought that was a great way to get kids into sports. I'm an old athlete myself. I loved my years playing hockey, football, track, soccer, baseball and soccer. As the self appointed health czar of Klickitat County I unequivocally support sports.

But then the athletic director at that school, whose stomach looked as if he had himself swallowed a couple of basketballs whole, wheeled a cart containing several two liter bottles of soda onto the court. The prize for the most successive free throws was a bottle of soda six times the size of the stomach of average participant.

The following day I attended a homecoming pep rally at another school. The pep rally consisted of a lot of fun games which made people laugh and get excited: a touch of Americana.The activities, in a larger context, promoted a collective degree of mental wellness. After all, being connected to something larger than oneself is one key to combating depression and other woes. The health czar approves of large social events.

The prizes, however, for winning such events as jousting, putting on a frozen t-shirt the fastest or tossing Cheetos onto another person's face which had been covered in whipping cream were large bags of snickers and other fat forming type two diabetes producing goodies. I watched and observed and took mental notes. I try to think of what type of healthy alternatives the school could provide. I stood there taking it all in. Three out of the five cheerleaders running the pep rally were visibly obese as was the cheer leading coach. This was a marked departure from the cheerleaders of my youth!

The next day I found myself cheering on both the boy's and girl's basket ball teams during homecoming evening. I had been cutting firewood that morning and afternoon and as usual worked later than I had planned. I had no time to cook a dinner. Although I had nuts and fruit in my car for snack emergencies I knew I would be hungry before the long evening was over. I remember thinking on my way down the windy canyon road to the town of Klickitat that there might actually be nothing in that town that I would choose to eat of my own free will unless I was really hungry.

Sure enough, the concession stand contained absolutely nothing of any nutritional value. Pizza, hot dogs on white flour buns, various sodas, candy bars and GMO popcorn was all that was available for public consumption. I was very hungry so after much consternation I chose a slice of pizza because I could see a few vegetable scraps on the surface. The ASB director wanted to take my picture eating junk food but unfortunately no camera came forward in time. I wanted to eat the pizza before the grease congealed.

I had also agreed to chaperon the dance which meant I would be at the school until 12:30 am the next day. The pizza left me feeling hungry and vacant (msg maybe?). After a complete 52-29 rout by the girls team over Yakima Tribal and a hair twisting 61-59 victory by the boys I ventured to the local junk mart to find some sort of dinner. I walked around the short aisles of the store several times. At the front the food was similar to the school concession stand: bad pizza, mystery meat hot dogs, pop and double deep fried brown flour encrusted everything entrees of unidentified chicken parts.

I checked out the freezer section and found Rosarita's frozen chile rellenos in a sealed plastic box. I carried those around for awhile but I wasn't sure they would thaw correctly or in time. I did find a small section of wilted vegetables and fruit but I needed something that resemble dinner. Next to the produce offerings was a small section of prepackaged dinners. After much deliberation I chose the potatoes and cheese dinner. It somewhat suggested a dinner I might occasionally make for myself.

I took it back to the school, heated it in the microwave in the staff room and settled down for the first packaged meal I had eaten in well over a decade if not longer. I could not remember. I will admit that initially it was tasty. Potatoes and good cheese are a comfort food. About three quarters of the way into my tasty treat, I realized that something was very different in the taste of this entree and a similar dish I might cook for myself. Then it came to. I think I had consumed in that single meal my monthly intake of salt!

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