Long ago, in my idealistic-student days, I thought I would grow up to be a nutrition educator, spreading the good news of vegetables far and wide. But part way through my PhD in nutrition, I became discouraged when I realized that, in many people's eyes, "nutrition educator" is synonymous with "scold."
So I'm always impressed to read about people who inspire and motivate others to eat more healthfully - especially when those "others" are sixth graders. In a recent blog entry on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Michele Giacomini, a sixth grade teacher in Rocklin, Calif., describes a series of classroom discussion that began with an offhand remark about the sugar content of chocolate milk, and ultimately led many of her students to do their own research on how to choose healthier foods:
Our on-going student-led discussions are not based on boycotting anything. Instead we decided that, realistically, we’ll always be faced with challenges of healthy foods vs. unhealthy, whether at home, at school, or on vacation. Therefore, we really focus on the need to educate ourselves in order to know how to make the healthier choices. Then, students can sit down with their parents and talk about making better eating choices and even fill them in with information that they may not have. We figured if our research unveiled, for example, that granola bars contain more sugar than an apple, then the students could have a rational discussion with their parents and ask, “May I please pack an apple for a snack instead?”
Wow - pretty impressive for 11- and 12-year-olds! Go, Ms. Giacomini!