By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau
One alarming trend in our society today is the prevalence of junk food in our diets – and more importantly in those of our children. While the selection of junk foods continues to grow and the enormity is mind boggling, let’s focus on just one, soft drinks.
They have wiggled their way into nearly every venue in our society. About the only public place I haven’t seen them is in the back vestibules of our nation’s churches.
Soft drinks have no place is this nation’s schools. Soft drinks have little, if any nutritional value whatsoever. Look at the ingredients in a soft drink the next time you pick one up. Most people wouldn’t have a clue what these ingredients are, myself included.
To be part of a balanced diet, a food product must have nutritional value. Unlike water, soft drinks won’t even quench your thirst. They leave you longing for a tall, cool glass of water.
And that’s what we should have in all our public places – water, lots of it and other healthy drink alternatives.
Talk to a nutritionist or physician and what is the ingredient we’re supposed to drink at least eight glasses of?
That’s right nature’s own liquid – water.
What about that wonderful white liquid chock full of calcium we call milk? Where does it fit in our daily diet?
Milk belongs in a balanced diet. Nutritional research has stressed that men and women between the ages of 11 and 24 need the equivalent of five servings of dairy products daily. This can be milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and a whole array of other good-tasting dairy foods.
Kids need healthy food and drinks. During these growing years, the bones in the human body are like a calcium bank. Between 11 and 24, bones are continually taking in calcium. From 24 until about 50 years of age in women and 65 in men, the body reaches an equilibrium point. But after those years, the body begins to extract calcium from the bones.
Milk is a healthy, nutritional food that belongs in our daily diets. Proper intake of milk in a well-balanced diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by as much as 50 percent.
Juice from oranges, grapefruit, lemons, strawberries and other fruits is another item that belongs in a balanced diet. Food products from natural primary crops – not always secondary, highly processed food products – are essential to our youngsters’ diets. We owe it to them and their good health.
Vegetable drinks made from tomatoes, carrots, celery and other vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vegetable drinks also belong as part of our daily diets. Have a V-8 instead.
But let’s return to soft drinks. As a youngster my parents only allowed us to drink them on special occasions. Dentists and nutritionists contend these products can cause tooth decay. While I know genetics and proper daily oral hygiene play a major role, I didn’t have my first filling until about six years ago, and I’m somewhere in the half century club age wise.
I think not.
Selling soft drinks is about one thing only – making money. I don’t have a problem with anyone making a profit. It’s the American way. I just believe that food products should have plenty of nutritional value.
So if you need to treat yourself, add chocolate to the milk. Mix a couple of the fruit juices together or just drink water. You’ll be doing yourself a favor and you’ll be supporting farmers and ranchers who supply these fresh, tasty, nutritious drinks.
Make mine chocolate milk. Bottoms up.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.