Friday, September 15, 2006

Food Labels and Garden Exercise

Starbucks beverage: Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino® Blended Coffee, no whipped cream

These are the nutrition facts, from, for a Starbucks Frappuccino, a popular beverage among the students in our June Jordan high school food class. This week we each kept a 24 hour food diary, and wrote down the nutrition facts for all the foods we ate. Then we totaled the following:
  • Percentage of calories from fat—in a healthy diet, should be 30% or less.
  • Total grams of sugar eaten in one day—should be less than 48g.
  • How much of the daily recommended dietary fiber are we eating? Should total 100% Daily Value for one day.
I did pretty well! I was amazed how much fiber I got from black beans. We measured in teaspoons all the sugar we ate and each put ours in a baggie. One Jamba Juice finished a student for the whole day, and another student needed to double bag his sugar collection. Next time we'll combine all our sugar in one bag and see how much a whole class eats in one day - yuck!

Today we figured out how much physical activity it takes to burn the calories from one of these Starbucks drinks. You can choose: Garden for 50 minutes, go running for 20 minutes, or watch TV for 3 hours and 20 minutes!

The daily recommended physical activity for teenagers is 30 minutes of moderate excercise. "Moderate excercise" means getting your heart rate up to 70% of your maximum. We calculated this (140 bpm for a teen), took our pulses, and headed out to the garden. After digging beds for 20 minutes, we all checked our pulses, and we were there! Our hearts were beating hard and we felt great. Who needs a frappuccino when gardening feels so good!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

School Food is Big News!

Food seems to be the hot topic of the minute. (I really hope it stays that way!) The San Francisco Chronicle has reported on healthy school lunches a lot lately (see photo at left).

This morning the Chronicle printed the following Letter to the Editor, referring to a recent article on four individuals who are making a difference in school food and youth health. The article neglected to mention a major movement: school garden-based education!!

If they grow it, they will eat it

Editor -- Your article on the changes occurring in our school cafeterias was heartening and the work being done by the four people you profiled is admirable ("Obesity war's latest battlefront: the school cafeteria,'' Aug. 28). You have overlooked, however, an excellent and powerful tool used by SFUSD and other school districts -- the school garden.

San Francisco has more than 30 school gardens, producing year-round nutritious food. It is not uncommon to see a class of fourth-graders tuck into a just-harvested salad of romaine, oak leaf lettuce, sliced carrots and radishes, decorated with borage and marigold petals.

Parents wonder what witchery was performed on their children. Why are they eating their vegetables? Quite simply, if they grow them, they'll eat them.

School gardens, or outdoor classrooms, masterfully integrate science, language arts, math and, of course, nutrition, and are an excellent hands-on experience for children.

The benefits of supporting school gardens are countless. Growing one's food is an empowering and authentic experience and compelling reason to get off the couch.

Just take a walk to Alice Fong Yu School or Lakeshore Elementary in the Sunset, or Willie Brown Jr. in the Bayview, or June Jordan in the Excelsior -- or any of the other excellent garden programs at your neighborhood school to see these outdoor classrooms in action.

ARDEN BUCKLIN-SPORER, Director of Educational Gardens, S.F. Unified School District

NAN McGUIRE, Green Schoolyard Alliance

Photo Credit: Craig Lee, San Francisco Chronicle