American consumers are paying high prices for low-quality food, and so are our public schools,” said Jane Hersey, director of the nonprofit Feingold Association of the U.S.
Hersey is one of thousands of parents who use the low-additive Feingold diet to resolve their children’s ADHD symptoms.
“We learned how to shop smarter and find the foods our families love,” she said. “You don’t have to give up the convenience of processed foods, just buy the brand that is free of additives like food dyes.”
The Feingold Association researches food and compiles books listing thousands of acceptable brands, including mixes, frozen foods, snacks and even desserts and candies.
According to the association’s research, many schools in the United States serve a stew of synthetic chemicals (most of them made from petroleum) that have been shown to trigger behavior, learning and health problems. Not only are these factory foods overpriced, they are responsible for many of the troubling symptoms that are so expensive for schools to address, Hersey said. In 1979-1983, when the New York City school system removed additives like food dyes and artificial flavors, they found that test scores of all the students rose from the 39th to the 55th percentile.
What’s more, she said, the number of children who were two or more years behind grade level plummeted from more than 12 percent to less than 5 percent. This translates to a huge saving in the cost of remedial services.
Schools can continue to use processed foods if they want, but simply switch to those versions that don’t have the Red 40, Yellow 5 and other petrochemicals, the director suggests. They don’t need to buy meat dishes that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and MSG. In fact, the low-cost government commodity foods are a better alternative for any school, and a few items made from scratch can save even more money.
But while many find the issue to be complicated, Hersey maintains that it really is quite simple.
“If you turn the clock back to the 1950s school children were not plagued with ADHD, bi-polar disorders, diabetes, asthma, depression, violent behaviors, chronic ear infections and all of the developmental problems we are seeing today,” she said. “While there may be many contributing factors, one that stands out is the drastic change in the food children eat today. And one of the simplest and most effective solutions is to feed children food — real food. If our school cafeterias today looked more like the school cafeterias of a generation or two ago, then our classrooms today would be far different as well.”