During a recent interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, Sarah Palin attacked First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which aims to introduce ‘more healthful food in schools, more accurate food labeling, better grocery stores in communities that don’t have them, public service announcements, and efforts to get children to be more active.’
Palin, however, thinks Michelle Obama should ‘just leave us alone.’ According to Palin, Michelle Obama is ‘telling us she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.’
Given that 66.7% of Americans are overweight, and given that the obesity rate has more than doubled in children ages 2 to 19 since 1976, maybe some American parents can’t make healthy food choices for their children.
Yet Sarah Palin is confident that the government should ‘allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.’ But left to their own devices, would American parents ensure healthy diets for themselves and their children?
Based on evidence I have seen across the country recently, I am inclined to think ‘no.’ Twice in the past few months I have traveled to the southern United States for work. Despite not eating animals, dairy, or eggs, I honestly did not anticipate any trouble finding things to eat. I never have, no matter where I’ve traveled.
Instead, I found myself often going to bed hungry and spending most days with a sick stomach. Our hotel restaurant’s only non-meat offering was fried green tomatoes. A nearby restaurant was only able to provide oil-soaked noodles with fried vegetables. The grocery store housed no organic or natural food at all. It was shocking. All I could think about was that the people who lived there had no other option but to eat this terrible, unhealthy food.
But even in Vermont, in which nearly every grocery store offers a wide selection of healthy, organic foods, I often see families’ carts overflowing with soda, chips, Twinkies, frozen pizzas, and other processed foods. The drive-thru line at McDonald’s is always at least ten cars long.
Do people know what healthy food is and the difference it can make in their lives and health? Do they care? Maybe Sarah Palin knows what healthy foods to feed her family. But maybe some other parents, such as those who live in areas where healthy, natural foods are not readily available, and those who were not brought up with healthy eating as a part of their knowledge base, need help.
The new Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is another step in that direction. The bill helps provide more and healthier meals for underprivileged kids at school . In addition, it requires that healthier snacks be sold in school vending machines and store, and increases funding for local school gardens and food from local farms as ingredient sources for school meals.
Yet the part of this bill Sarah Palin wants to focus on is a proposed restriction on frequent bake sales during school hours, for fear that they might replace healthier meals. Because she thinks such a restriction is a ‘nanny state run amok,’ Palin brought 200 cookies to students at an event in Pennsylvania.
Both America and Americans seem to have a hard time admitting when they need help, but it seems as though now is the time to start.