Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Circle Crackers

by: Linda Novick O'Keefe

Whether or not we pay tuition, why does recommending and wanting healthy food for our kids feel like war? I just don’t get it. Why are we taking sides regarding our children’s health; our kids are not food disposals.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend called and told me that a few mommies in her daughter’s playgroup were speaking about this crazy mom who sent emails to her pre-school and all the parents condemning the school’s snack. For the record, not one of these ladies in the playgroup went to the school or were the direct recipients of any “crazy emails.” It was this moment that I realized I finally had left my birthright: the legacy of the crazy mom who doesn’t let her kids eat circle crackers.

Here is my side of the story…

OK, so we decided to pay a pretty penny to send both our kids to pre-school but felt it was an investment in helping kick start healthy physical, emotional and spiritual habits. Naturally, it drove and continues to drive me bananas that (when shopping for a school play-date) when I inquired to my little lovelies what their friends’ favorite foods are, they declare in their adorably cute and innocent voices “circle crackers!”

I do find myself twirling my hair into knots thinking about the significant tuition and the snack served everyday to the kids including crackers that contain bleached white flour, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn-syrup, processed cheese and raisins.

I decided to let the organic cheese vs. non organic cheese argument go. While I am pretty crazy about only serving organic dairy to my own children and the Common Threads students, it is an argument that can be exhausting even for many of the dieticians, physicians, and nutritionists that we work with.

So I started sending the school emails with studies from the Mayo Clinic on the dangers of consuming high fructose corny syrup and hydrogenated oils. The Director seemed to think any crackers other than the ones she purchased would be more expensive. So I listed just a few fresh snacks priced at Whole Foods that cost between $5-8 that would feed 16-20 children.

Then the concern was related to meeting State of IL safety standards (all snacks have to be wrapped and or packaged). I then proceeded to get quotes from Stanley’s that indicated a significant cost savings by buying fruit in bulk, which would come packaged and sealed, to meet safety requirements. This is the email I think I copied the entire class list on.

The Director then seemed to be concerned with allergens. I couldn’t think of anyone I knew that was allergic to oranges and apples and I wanted to say that (I probably did and it is possible that I replied to all on the list serve).

I did get many emails of support from like-minded mommies. I did, however, get some other emails that made me want to curl up in fetal position in my own mommy’s lap. I wanted to respond, I wanted to say so much. I found myself typing “aren’t you scared that our kids might not outlive us? I am.” I backspaced…

My husband thinks that “food” is my religion. I just think that we all have a right to eat healthy. Unfortunately, not everyone is drinking the same kool-aid.

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