Word association can sometimes really play with the imagination. And the power of suggestion can often be a dominant force.

So now comes the word “hummus” which is very similar to “humus.” Hummus is a Mideastern food composed of ground up chickpeas or garbanzo beans and tahini — a paste made from sesame.

Humus is organic material that has been broken down as far as it will go. Some people put it in worm beds and flower gardens.

So what’s the big difference? Some will say just an “m.”

This all comes to mind as researchers seek to make school lunchroom meals healthier. They did studies to show that kids will go for fried foods and greasy pizza over baked foods and fresh vegetables. I don’t know how long this study took for this conclusion, but if it lasted a month, then about 29 days and 23 hours were wasted.

So some promoters of healthier lunches are suggesting hummus (not to be confused with humus) to be included in school lunches. I doubt any success here, but my first piece of advice would be to change the name. I don’t care how you cook it, it’s still going to remind one of humus.

The closeness of these two words, in spelling and content, activates the power of the imagination. Kids will imagine that they just dipped their main course out of a worm bed. Rotted twigs and foliage will be what they see.

Of course this cat is out of the bag, so changing the name now is not going to fool anyone. And that old saying that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” comes to mind. You can make souse out of a sow’s ear along with some snout and gristle, but you won’t get kids to eat that either. Souse meat is an acquired taste. And besides, as good as souse on saltines taste to me, it’s full of fat and calories. In fact, if it is commercially packaged, they don’t list trans fat, salt and carbohydrates. They just show a picture of a stethoscope and a heart monitor.

Sometimes the imagination works in reverse. The other day I bought some baked soybeans. I imagined they would go really good with a ballgame. After the first handful, I realized I had made a bad investment. They tasted like sawdust, with apologies to the sawdust. I tossed them into a bowl on the patio. The birds and squirrels won’t even eat them.

So I have a new rule. If I can’t bait a dove field with it, I’m not going to eat it either.

All of this has to do with child obesity. As you may have noticed in recent articles and commentaries, our society is trying to place more of the burden of healthy eating on public schools, as if they don’t have their hands full already with algebra, history, language, discipline and baggy pants.

Recently I referred to research which concluded that schools won’t be able to address this obesity problem if parents aren’t committed to healthy eating as well. I see a parallel here. I don’t think schools can make much headway with mathematics, history and language if parents also aren’t committed to the enlightenment of their children. This parallel is just a theory of mine. You may disagree.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I know a sure way to make kids or adults eat healthier foods. I’m not sure anyone does. I’m thinking, though, that if kids and adults got more exercise, then the damage of bad eating habits might be diminished a bit.

Now at a distance, hummus might also be misunderstood as “humorous” which is what this project will be if it indeed shows up in lunchrooms. I would fear food fights.

“Incoming!”

And our world is so full of irony. We can put man on the moon and transplant human organs but we can’t make kids eat healthy nor can we find Osama bin Laden. As well, we can’t build a fuel gauge where the hand spends equal time on both sides of half full.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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