Saturday, September 15

The Peanut Butter in Schools Controversy

Peanut butter bans are once again in the news as an Arkansas schools experiences push-back over a teacher's decision to confiscate a student's lunch when he brought a forbidden peanut butter sandwich.

Food is intensely personal, as are a parent's choices regarding how they raise their children, so every time food allergies come up in the news explosive and hyperbolic arguments erupt. 

I weary quickly of reading internet articles on the subject because there is so little relevant debate on the actual issues at hand. How is it that a subject with so much potential for informed, thoughtful and innovative problem-solving is squandered rants about individual drama, pride and ignorance?

If you would like to skip the drama and participate in actual, productive discussion on this fascinating and complex topic, I would like to suggest a resource you may appreciate. 

The Unhealthy Truth is the true story of a mother who, in search of solutions to a range of health problems in her family, discovers that all four of her young children have serious food allergies (to different foods). Her journey through the process of discovery and then the struggle to adapt their lives and environment to deal with the new reality is well written and informative in an engaging, easy-to-relate-to style.

Opponents of PB bans will appreciate the author's attitude of personal responsibility towards her children's dietary needs, and parents of children with food allergies will empathize with her fears and struggles. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, O'Brien's book can provide valuable insight and a good starting point for sound, reasonable debate on the subject.

Hyperbole and Straw Men may fuel headlines, but our nation's children deserve better than reactionary thinking, irrational pride or a nanny-state. They need us, as adults, to model healthy decision making and problem solving - which always start with getting the right information. 

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