The most powerful
scene comes when this newscaster directs his television audience
to open their windows, and scream, 'I am mad as hell and I am not
going to take it anymore.' Apparently, this cleansing release of
anger, would jumpstart a citizenry that had forgotten that the health
of a society depends on the citizenship of its' populous.
the youngest in our society are watching us right now, as Coca-cola
and Pepsi invade their public spaces, what will the elders of society
do? Coke and Pepsi are vying for the buying power of our children,
and the schools are their vehicles for profit. This prospect of
money to schools is seducing school boards and blinding adults to
the realities of these 'deals with the devil.' Sadly, my own school
district has a Pepsi contract. Just a few years ago, a consortium
of three Colorado school districts approved a 10- year, $27.7 million
exclusive contract with Coca-Cola. Only one of the boards' 17 members
voted against this contract. Over 200 school districts nationwide
have signed exclusive grant contracts with soft drink companies.
Is society letting
legislators off the hook? Don't worry about funding schools let corporate
America fill the void, as they build brand loyalty in the littlest of consumers.
Isn't education about being a pillar of democracy, learning life skills
and fulfilling dreams? Our collusion with beverage 'giants' seems to reinforce
the shrill ideal that success is measured by wealth, by acquisition of stuff,
and that profit at any cost is good. As if health comes second to cash.
The statistics speak
for themselves: in 1970, annual consumption of soda was 22.4 gallons, by
1998 it was 56.1 gallons per capita. Today, the average North American consumes
53 teaspoons of sugar a day! Excess sugar in children's diets, is linked
to the rise in type-2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and kidney stones.
One 12- ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar,
while a 64- ounce Big Gulp, provides the equivalent of 48 teaspoons! Interesting
note, during World War II, when sugar consumption dropped the outbreak of
diabetes dropped sharply also. So, there is hope.
this year, to stem criticism, Coca-Cola, announced that it would
'back off' the number of contracts with schools. But, this promise
is another smoke screen by those who seek to use the captive audiences
in schools, for quarterly profits. Some of Coke's bottlers are still
signing exclusive contracts with high schools. Since March of this
year, Coke's largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., which
is 40% owned by Coke, has struck several big school contracts. One
deal was a five- year, $1.77 million pact with 35 schools in Sarasota,
The nature of
these 'educational deals' is plain. Schools, underfunded and economically
hurting, go begging to 'corporate heroes' for help. I applaud corporate
donations -- without strings. Schools hold children, not widgets
for mass production. The true nature of Coca-Cola is revealed in
John Robbin's 'The Food Revolution'. In this wonderful book, one
that all students should read, he quotes Coca-Cola, CEO, Donald
Keough, when discussing the potential soda market in the third word.
"When I think of Indonesia- a country on the Equator with 180
million people, a median age of 18, and with a Moslem ban on alcohol,"
he says, " I feel I know what heaven looks like."
Actually, heaven is
a group of parents who storm their collective board of education
meetings, and demand that the Coke and Pepsi deals be reneged. Students
should learn the facts about soda in Health classes and then, exercise
their rights, to say no to vending machines in their schools. Tonight,
I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore. I am writing
a check, from my tax refund to my daughter's grade school, to help
with supplies. Make the promise I made to my daughters, I will not
drink another can of soda pop, because, role models should practice
what they preach. Plus, I will live a healthier life, and so will
my children. Loving care, setting parameters of trust and learning,
and defending the health of children, does not come from a vending
machine. It comes from the heart, and Coke and Pepsi, can never
buy or sell that.
John F. Borowski has been teaching Marine Science, Environmental
Biology and Earth Science for 21 years at North Salem High in Salem,
You can contact John Borowski at email@example.com
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