First Posted: 5/21/2009
Uniq, langsat, kumquat, rambutan…those are a few of the incredible fruits I learned about Thursday when I visited White Plains Elementary School.
The school learned last week it was the recipient of a grant for the second year in a row from the USDA that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the school each day.
The grant basically allows the students to get a taste of something different every day.
I also had a taste of something different myself.
I popped a kumquat in my mouth and found it quite delicious. I was fascinated by the vibrant colors of many of the fruits including the langsat, which was a rich red with a gooey white center, and the kiwano melon, which had bright orange skin and a juicy green center.
Like many of the children, I stood in awe of the pretty colors and strange shapes of fruits that are very common to people in other countries.
The children got to take home a goody bag with some of those fruit in it, which I of course, got in on too. I couldnt resist showing my friends the cool stuff I had seen.
I think the USDA fresh fruits and veggie grant is an excellent tool to enlighten children about not only eating healthy, but also about other cultures. When you expose them to something new, it opens the door for new discoveries.
Growing up my mom always made it a point, when the opportunity presented itself, to take me to different restaurants. She thought it was important that my brother and I learn about different foods and be familiar with different cultures. I appreciated that she did that because otherwise I would not have been exposed to those new things.
I didnt attend schools, from what I can recall, that offered fresh fruits and veggies daily. Had I, perhaps, I would have developed some better eating habits and known more about different exotic fruits. I think eating healthy is a little easier when your food is fun and quirky, especially if youre a kid.
I commend White Plains Elementary School and other schools that are pursing means to make sure kids live and eat healthier. It will make a world of difference in a society that is growing fatter.
Approximately 300,000 adult deaths in the United States each year are attributable to unhealthy dietary habits and physical inactivity or sedentary behavior.
Starting as early as possible to promote healthy habits is the biggest prevention to stop disease and unhealthy weight problems.
An estimated 70 percent of diabetes risk in the U.S. can be attributed to excess weight and Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services according to www.overweightteen.com, a Web site that offers advice for parents of overweight teens.
An overweight child often has more than excess pounds to bear – theyre often taunted by peers and can suffer health problems, now and later.
So, its best to encourage healthy eat habits as soon as possible.
Besides, its okay to be fruity.
Erin C. Perkins is a staff reporter for the Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1952.