Food for Thought: the rich vs. poor diet

WTF is going on? some would say same thing that always happens… government subsidies and bailouts for the biggest corporations, tax cuts for the rich, legalization of monopolies, basically rewards for the already privileged…

more specifically i am referring to the news of a healthy foods grant recipients (see here)… my obvious question:
why are school districts in some of the most wealthiest communities (santa monica, malibu) in Los Angeles receiving extra money to provide their children with healthy foods when they already have a lot more access to healthy foods via family income levels and healthy food outlets, while other communities (like the one i teach in – hard to find straight up stats on this community but here is a comparative of all neighborhoods in LA) continue to struggle with many issues of community health?

not only are the income levels cause for concern about how this grant recipients were chosen, but healthy food choices is of stark contrast between the two communities… without breaking down the argument into subjective stereotypes of both communities (which i can easily do having spent a lot of time in both) you can see for yourself here:
wholefoods locations
trader joe’s locations

not that these stores offer the healthiest (or most affordable) food choices… but let’s face it. mainstream myths apply here as well…

there is a good article here about what types of food options are available in South Central Los Angeles

i teach world history, where it is clear to see inequitable trends in food distribution and consumption between stratified social levels… i live here, now… where the same trends (in my humble opinion) apply…

is el monte, another grant recipient, a super wealthy neighborhood? not at all (see here)
do all children deserve access to a healthy diet? OF COURSE!!!
but why the continuing disparity between rich, whiter communities and those of poverty and color?
do people of color just choose to be more unhealthy? the new “Fried Chicken” song by Nas and Busta might have many (especially the impressionable i.e. children and uninformed i.e. a majority of the adult population – i thought it was a satirically serious way to raise the issue of stereotypes and the historical health of the negro) thinking yes…

A World Without Rules… “Why So Serious?”

http://megantower.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/batmanreturnsthedarkknightposter.jpg
inspiring and depressing as the late Heath Ledger’s performance in the new Dark Knight film was… his character (one of my favorite characters ever created – the antithesis to one of my other all time favorite characters) sparked some questions in my mind… not at all the first time i have contemplated issues of anarchy (referring to my earlier post)… yet viewed thru the lens of the Joker, it reminded me once again that most people’s perception of a “world without rules” is not one of possibility but impossibility. and it is these two extremes (placed within the most enjoyable dichotomy of hero vs. villain) that really drove it home for me…

there is no middle ground when it comes to different perspectives on issues that contest the status quo, established order, hegemony, etc…. issues like patriotism, anarchy, terrorism, immigration, global warming, american politics…. and a myriad of other contemporary issues that the mainstream media skillfully deceive us into believing that there are only two ways at most of looking at things. it seems that in this magnificent democracy (if you are too lazy to read the link then it should be pointed out that there is universally accepted definition of democracy… but read the damn link, you educated citizen you!!)
– which generally necessitates the free and respected exchange of multiple perspectives on all the issues affecting said democracy – is more content to allow passive consumption of information then engagement in critical discussions and dialogue…

it is this very fact that inspired me earlier this year to ask my 7th graders this question during our study of Feudal European and Japanese society: “Should certain people in society be given more power over other people?”

although i have my own half conceived notion of an answer to this question (which i would be more than willing to share with my students, many of whom asked, i try to make it a point not to tell them my views before they have attempted to construct their own…) in short, i was amazed by their responses. there was a range, an openness to consider the ideas involved in forming their own opinion. many of the responses were reflective. and many more included some consideration of the seemingly opposing ideas. themes that were present in the essays (which you can view some examples here) ranged from inevitability, patriotism, spirituality, human nature, the dichotomy, confusion….

what my students’ papers and heath’s performance both show is that a world without rules is a question of spectrum and doesn’t have to be one of dichotomy…

my students were able to take a question and spend time considering it. something that a lot of us just simply don’t have time to do? and so it seems ridiculous that i am spending time reflecting on an incredible piece of entertainment, trying to connect it to something serious… but… Why so serious? perhaps one should use this question as a starting point… and attempt to answer it in a manner that my 7th grade students implore.