Before you say a delighted “yes” to the McDonald’s order-taker, read this.
Yesterday, Patch and I were doing our regular study time. I would usually check her notes and test papers. We’d go over the answers, naturally focusing on the ones she didn’t get right. One particular paper was her Science quiz from last week. The topic was food groups – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Which food to eat most, more, some and least.
She scored 28/30. Not bad at all. Despite the fairly high standards set by the school (80% is passing grade, i.e. equal to a grade of 75), I’m not a very grade-conscious mom. Believe me, I don’t keep a small green booklet called Class Record. (Believe me more, there are parents who do. And believe me most, they don’t just keep track of their own child’s scores; they also keep track of the competitors’. Yeah! Let’s talk about it over coffee next time…)
Test I. How much should you take in of the following foods? Write most, more, some and least in the space provided.
Item # 4. french fries. My daughter’s answer: least (not very honest, she’s smart! hehe). Teacher says: X, no deal.
Me: So what could the correct answer possibly be?
Patch: *shrugs* I heard Ms. V say it’s “most”.
Me: *goes ballistic* Whaaat? Eat fries as much as you eat rice??? French fries are junk food, doesn’t she know that?!!
Google comes to the rescue: Are french fries healthy?
Look at the first article I stumble upon:
FoxNews.com – French Fries in Childhood Tied to Breast Cancer? Some excerpts from the article:
In a new study, women were more likely to get breast cancer if they had regularly eaten french fries decades earlier as preschoolers.
It’s based on the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-term health study of a large group of nurses. The study focused on 582 nurses who had breast cancer and more than 1,500 who didn’t have breast cancer in 1993. Their mothers were asked how often the nurses had eaten 30 different foods as preschoolers.
For every extra weekly serving of french fries that the women reportedly ate as preschoolers, their risk of breast cancer as adults rose 27 percent, write Karin Michels, ScD, PhD, and colleagues.
My already-huge eyes gaped wider. “Haaaaa? Ganoon?Why???”, I asked, as if in denial (for I, too, am a lover of french fries). I went on to read the another article which came up in my Google search. From Dr. Greene:
[In 2002,] The World Health Organization convened an emergency expert panel to evaluate the potential health threats of acrylamide, a known toxic substance possibly created by heating starchy foods to high temperatures. The initial study in Sweden that suggested starches produce acrylamide, conducted early in 2002, was viewed with skepticism. But the formation of acrylamide in this way has now been confirmed by independent studies in England, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.
The WHO expert panel unanimously concluded that the results of these studies are valid. They also unanimously agreed there is a major concern that the levels of acrylamide found in some potato chips and French fries could cause cancer. The amount of acrylamide varies from brand to brand, and between cooking techniques. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has commissioned testing of levels in some US brands. The acrylamide in a large order of fast food fries was at least 300 times the amount allowed by the EPA in a glass of water. One brand studied contained 600 times the EPA amount.
That’s why. It seems that this is not new information, but I wonder why there wasn’t much noise back then. Or maybe I wasn’t listening. Anyway…
Armed with this info, I wrote the teacher a note. And printed out the articles to go with the note. I did not mean to be condescending, but the teacher needed some updating. I mean, I, too, did not know about the acrylamide thingie. But I know fast-food french fries are heavily laden with trans-fats. To teach children that they should eat fries in the “more” to “most” ranges, ignoring the greasy fact just because they are potatoes, is terrible!
According to Patch, the teacher stared at my “love letter” for a while, and then read the articles with much interest. Later, she retrieved all the test papers from the class and made the necessary corrections with a short explanation that french fries are too fatty (no acrylamide talk, but that’s good enough for me).
Woohoo! A small yet sweet victory for this mother who could only wish for good things for all children, especially her own.
Now, would you like to add some fries, Ma’am?
Find the WHO’s FAQ page on acrylamide here.