Farmington Woods Elementary in Cary pushes good nutrition

aspecht@newsobserver.comMarch 6, 2014 

— Corn syrup might sound like a vegetable, but it’s not.

Apple pie might sound somewhat healthy – it has fruit, after all. But store-bought pies have more salt than an order of fries.

Performers with FoodPlay Productions imparted nutrition wisdom upon students at Farmington Woods Elementary School in Cary on Thursday.

The show’s lively stars talked about everything from eating fruits and vegetables to why famous athletes chug sugary beverages on TV.

Athletes don’t actually drink soda to become big and strong or play their best, they said.

“Soda companies pay those athletes millions of dollars to drink it in a commercial,” Garrett Gallinot told a cafeteria full of kids.

The average American child sees about 10,000 soda ads and drinks about 600 sodas each year, Gallinot said.

He put it this way: “That’s $600 that could be spent on an Xbox One.”

Nearly one in three children in America are obese, and many – from First Lady Michelle Obama to administrators in Wake County schools – believe exercise and nutrition education are the best ways to address the issue.

Aside from teaching the curriculum in gym class, Farmington Woods hangs posters in its hallways saying things like “choose healthy snacks.” The school recently held a marathon for students and their families.

“Sometimes, when I walk into the cafeteria, students will want to show me what they’re eating if it’s something like an apple or banana,” said Don Eller, a physical education teacher at the school.

The school’s efforts were noticed by health lobbyists, too.

Last year, Farmington Woods was one of nine Wake schools that received Brains and Bodies Awards from Advocates for Health in Action.

The school received a bronze award but wanted to do more, so it paid about $1,800 for two 45-minute FoodPlay performances.

FoodPlay Productions, which is based in Massachusetts, visits schools around the country.

“Ultimately, we want the kids to be independent and responsible consumers,” Eller said.

Gallinot acted the part of juggling coach to Sage Devlin, who played the part of an aspiring juggler clueless on which foods will fuel her ascent to stardom.

Sugar, salt and fat made Devlin tired and cranky, while fruits, whole grains and vegetables made her perkier than a first-grader.

She needed to eat “go” foods, not “whoa” foods, Gallinot explained.

The best place to find those? The school cafeteria.

He scoffed at Devlin’s lunch from make-believe fast-food joint Greasey King: “Where’s all the color?”

The duo fought temptations of tastiness with scary words – like phosphoric acid – found on ingredient labels such as on soda cans.

Using tongs, Gallinot dramatically pulled a brown, soda-soaked tooth from a large pot.

“Ewwwwww,” the students groaned.

“That’s why you’ve got to read it before you eat it,” Gallinot said.

“Read it before you eat it,” the students chanted back.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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