Eat to Help Mississippi | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Eat to Help Mississippi

Yes, you heard that right. We urge all of our readers to start eating and feeding your family well—not only for selfish reasons, but because Mississippi needs you. It needs you to be fit, energetic and have a fully functioning brain because we have many challenges ahead in our city and state. We need all hands on deck and healthy.

Working on this "Power of Food" issue really brought home in a dramatic fashion just how important our everyday food choices really are. We talk in the story "Get Smart" about the brand-new study that ranked Mississippi 51st—not even 50th this time—in brain health. The reason isn't hard to figure out just as it isn't with our obesity, which in turn creates economic headaches as we try to pay for health care in a poor state.

We're not only neglecting our bodies in our state, but too many Mississippians are also ignoring the health of our brains. And worse, in too many cases, we're feeding children the wrong kinds of food if we want them to be successful, smart, educated and make a good living some day.

It used to be that we thought that some people are born smart and others dumb. Recent neuroscience has shown, though, just how wrong this "conventional wisdom" was. In fact, starting in the cradle and then toddlerhood, the kinds of nurturing, foods and even words children hear can determine what becomes of them.

And in a city where many are concerned about crime, this lack of access to fresh food and good dietary information is directly correlated with the choices many young people ultimately make. Not to mention the backward decisions many of our adults bring to the table.

We call on everyone reading this issue to vow to eat better. We call on parents to stop assuming that children will only eat unhealthy junk; it's not true, and research shows it isn't. But if you assume it's true, just as assuming that certain kids can't learn and be smart, then it likely will be. This kind of defeatist attitude is what keeps our state on the bottom—and no one can change it but ourselves. We must choose to, starting at the dinner table.

Even if you're used to eating unhealthy, fat-laden Sunday dinners every single day—which first lady Michelle Obama warned against—you can still change, regardless of your age. Get in touch with Beneta Burt at the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity Project, visit a farmers market this weekend, start reading labels. And just decide that you're never too busy to sit down to a family dinner. As we report in this issue on the story "The Power Of The Family Dinner", those dinners alone can change your child's future.

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