(#257) – One of the most bedrock mantras of our society is that life for the next generation will be better. Parents say this hundreds of times to their children as a reason for why they make the decisions they make and why they urge their children to do certain specific things. This pledge is deeply and genuinely felt and shapes the lives and relationships of millions of families. The same hope and goal is shared by millions of teachers and others who provide guidance and support to children. It is a central part of the motivation of their lives and provides an incomparable sense of self-esteem. It comes as a tremendous jolt to see the mounting evidence that this staple of the American Dream, this essential benchmark for success and meaning for the greater part of society, is in jeopardy.
For more than a generation, we have seen the failure of the economic system to support family integrity, child rearing and educational requirements. Parents survive by taking on more jobs and more debt with onerous interest payments to supplement what should be included in their wages. Millions have lost their homes to fraudulent lending practices. Young people leave college with student debt that is the second highest source of economic burden in the economy. Opportunities for employment are millions less than those applying and this trend will continue.
An equally appalling jolt is that today’s young people may also live shorter lives than their parents. One of the chief causes of this calamity is that our food system is making us sick and subtracting from the quality of life and the length of life. There are other causes. Income equality distributes the greatest negative health impacts on the poor who are a growing number and include 1 and 4 children. Nearly 50,000,000 of us do not health insurance if the Supreme Court or the Congress strikes down the mandated purchase of health insurance. Our medical system receives half the entire world’s revenue spent on health care yet we rank 30th out of 31 nations in terms of positive health outcomes. Corporate farmers and financiers favor engineered, manufactured “food” which injures our bodies even if it pleases are palates.
So let’s change the food we eat. Here we can take decisive action. Everyone of us can start growing and eating healthy food, right away, with very little expense and a lot of good social time. Gardening classes, community and school gardens are growing in every village and town, every school and other public places. Locally produced, fresh, nutritious food is becoming much more available and has the potential to become a major source of jobs and better health. There are challenges. Food directors at our schools and public health officials are eager to supply nutritious food to our children but have not received an increase in per meal cost support for 30 years. Food stamps allow $1.40 per meal if 3 meals a day are eaten.
A new County Legislative Committee is being formed – the Agriculture and Sustainability Committee – which should be held accountable for offering remedies to this cancer that affects our families and especially our children. It meets the first Thursday of every month at 1:30 pm at the County Government Center.