|Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley);||Date: Dec 9, 2010;||Section: Opinion;||Page: 8A|
Agriculture Department fighting terrorists and bake sales
We fight a constant battle over food in our house. Children being children, their sense of what is good for them is clouded by visions of chocolate and candy. Sugar is pharaoh to my children and the food pyramid is best observed in the breech. Meanwhile, I find myself talking like my parents. “No dessert until those green beans are gone.” “Daaaaad!” “No candy after school if you didn’t eat your lunch.” “Daaaaad!” “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” Oh wait, that’s Pink Floyd. As a parent I do my best to find something nutritious that the kids will eat. I confess I am not always successful, but I do try. So far boneless chicken, corn and potatoes are the house favorite, and well within Dad’s limited culinary abilities.
But like most parents, we like to spoil our children just a little. Instead of the shredded wheat I was subjected to as a child, my children get to have Fruit Rings or Magic Stars. (I buy generic.) Considering how much sugar my brother and I used to make the shredded wheat palatable, the kids are coming out ahead nutritionally.
That didn’t stop my son’s school a few years ago from engaging in some silly food censorship. My wife, the lovely Doreen from Waukesha, decided to send some dry cereal with my son to school for his snack. Unfortunately the cereal contained dried tiny marshmallows.
The horror, the horror.
My son’s snack was sent home with a note explaining that sugary cereals are not an acceptable snack. However, the school did not object when she sent a cereal bar made from the same cereal held together by some sugary marshmallow concrete.
For all the school’s supposed concern about my child’s nutritional welfare, all they did was force my wife to provide a less nutritional option at a greater financial cost. But rules are rules, right?
That’s why I get skeptical whenever someone proposes some new law that is supposedly to my children’s benefit.
The latest is First Lady Michelle Obama’s school nutrition bill recently passed by Congress. The new law spends $4.5 billion (fresh off the printing press) to provide more meals that are healthy for students.
The new law even allows the Agriculture Department to set the number of bake sales at your local school. This is the same Agriculture Department that thought ethanol was a good idea.
Say bye-bye to popcorn sales to send your kid to summer camp. Instead, your kid will spend the summer at home eating popcorn in front of the television.
First we banned prayer in the public schools and now we’re banning bake sale brownies. But the kids can still get free condoms. I don’t know about us but our schools are certainly evolving.
According to Congressman Tom Petri, this bill may even have the perverse effect of forcing schools to serve less cranberry juice. Cranberry juice actually has less sugar than other fruit juices, but because the sugar is added instead of naturally occurring schools may not be able to offer the cranberry juice.
Who would have thought a federal food program would do more damage to the cranberry industry in Wisconsin than the Department of Natural Resources?
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack actually said the bill’s passage was important to national security. “Our national security, economic competitiveness and health and wellness of our children will improve as a result of the action Congress took today.”
If only Attorney General Eric Holder were as aggressive in protecting national security in pursuing Wikileaks. Perhaps if Julian Assange released a secret document showing the donut-munching habits of President Barack Obama whenever Michelle was not around, the Secret Service would be forced to take Assange out.
In the meantime, I finally have a way of getting my kids to eat all of their vegetables. I’ll tell them, eat your green beans, or the terrorists will have won.
(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)