Our January Issue: Join The Fight Against Junk Food!

Kim Tranell

Dear Teachers,


As educators focused on the health and well-being of your teenage students, I am sure you've walked around the cafeteria in a state of defeat: That's an entire table eating corn chips and cheese curls for lunch . . . again?! Is nothing I say about the healthy choices getting through to them? 


That's why we're so excited about our January cover story on the sinister tricks of the food industry, which we hope will be the motivation your students need to shun junk. More or less, we're banking on the fact that teenagers--who are rebellious by nature--will be emboldened to take a stand against a ruthless industry that is trying to trick them into eating their highly unhealthy products. (But don't just take our word for it: A research team out of the University of Chicago and the University of Texas has actually studied this particular approach, with encouraging results! Check out their guest Ideabook post all about applying their takeaways to your classroom.)


As you work this into your nutrition or life skills/consumer science lesson plans (it surely can fit both!), we have everything you need to take this topic deeper:


1. A Riveting Cover Story


Choices January 2017 cover


In The Sinister Science of Irresistible Junk Food, writer Michelle Crouch explains the science behind teens' favorite, most addictive treats. As they read, students will be able to pull out a list of shocking tricks--from carefully manipulated ingredients and sensory experiences, to clever marketing tactics. Encourage them to consider this essential question: How can understanding the food industry's tricks help me eat healthier? 


2. A Richer Independent-Reading Experience


If your class is one-to-one, I urge you to hand out our two-part ANNOTATED READING worksheet to guide your students as they delve into the text. Part 1 provides them with a space to jot down their answers to some carefully placed questions, which are designed to help them self-reflect as they read. In Part 2, they'll digest what they've learned and apply it to their own lives: Why does their favorite junk food appeal to them, and how can they design a healthier snack that hits those cravings?  (Psst: If your students need inspiration or ideas, our junk food makeovers story from the April 2016 issue can be a fantastic reference point here!) 

3. A Hands-On Homework Assignment


We know that you are committed to teaching your students how to read and analyze food labels, ingredient lists, and packaging claims--and our DIGGING DEEPER activity (see page T4 in the January Teacher's Guide) can help. Encourage them to hit the local grocery store with our ANALYZING FOOD PACKAGING worksheet and report back the next day!  

4. An Ingenious Video 

broccoli craze video

After your students have read and digested the article, use our ADVOCACY IN ACTION activity (see page T4 in the January Teacher's Guide) to challenge them to think about how they can better market healthy snacks. Kick it all off by showing them "Creating the Broccoli Craze," a brilliant video from the New York Times which asks: What happens if an advertising agency markets fresh fruits and vegetables the way they do processed foods? (Find it under THIS MONTH'S VIDEOS in our VIDEO ARCHIVE.)


I look forward to your feedback, and please don't hesitate to contact me with any comments or questions. I have no doubt the story and its resources will lead to a lively, enlightening discussion--as well as some better lunch choices!





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