Leave potlucks and bake sales alone

Published 8:48 am Monday, May 14, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

There is news and then there is news. Occasionally I read a story in the newspaper or hear something on the news on television or radio that leaves me shaking my head.

I love bake sales. I probably love bake sales so much because I can eat all those nummy goodies without having to take the time to mix and churn and burn. Bakes sales have been a staple of society especially in rural areas. Where would we be if there were no bakes sales around the holidays?

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Many bakes sales are fundraisers for various charities. As I was listening to the news this week the anchorman was bemoaning the fact that schools in Massachusetts could no longer hold bake sales because of a new state law with new nutrition guidelines for schools. These guidelines target fried foods, sugary drinks, junk food and bake sales.

Already potlucks are on the endangered lists. They are some places that have banned potlucks, and it has been the discussion in some states according to articles that I have read in newspapers. The reason is food safety. You never know how the food is being handled in the kitchens and by the cooks that are making the food so they say it is getting to be too dangerous for us to eat potluck dishes. I don’t know how we survived all of these years from eating potluck because of all the dangers.

McDonald’s, under pressure after being accused of causing obesity in children, has made its meals healthier, and in some states McDonald’s has discontinued Happy Meals. That doesn’t make me happy.

I am all for healthier eating for kids. I remember some of the lunchroom meals that we had in the olden days. Those meals were full of fat and greasy. Yet there were not many obese children. It could be that parents monitored what their kids ate outside of school. It could be that all that outside exercise from play and chores at home kept kids skinnier.

I am for healthier meals at McDonald’s. I happen to believe potluck dish cooks need to be careful when they are preparing food. We must remember those who are preparing are also eating that food, too, and have you ever seen a church kitchen? Church kitchens would pass the glove test anytime.

Why I shake my head over all of this is because the government cannot protect us from ourselves. All the laws in the world will not keep us from self-destructing if we don’t take responsibility for ourselves.

I can’t imagine how a bake sale contributes to obesity in schools. Someone would have to buy a lot of baked goods from a bake sale on a continuous basis, costing mega-money to contribute a great deal to obesity. Our bakery is only a block away from the school. Are we going to ban students from going to the bakery?

We are a junk food nation not only because junk food is good to eat with all that fat and all those additives, but junk food is cheaper than healthy food. Many families cannot afford the cost of organic and healthy fruits and vegetables. It is also easier to make the prepackaged rather than to cook from scratch. Most meals in the olden days were from scratch and didn’t have all the additives.

I am not trying to start an argument or a debate; I am merely wondering why potlucks and bake sales have to be taken away from our enjoyment. I want that option to be able to go to a potluck or to go wild at a bake sale for charity. I also want the choice of a non-healthy, Happy Meal for my grandchildren once in a while. “No” is in their parents’ vocabulary and in mine. If I want to feed them healthy food, I have the ability to do so. It is a choice that we as adults should be able to make.

As adults, we also have the responsibility to teach our children about making responsible choices. If they don’t learn about making responsible choices as children, what will happen when they become adults?

When someone bans me from doing something I want to do it even more. There do need to be laws in place for many things for our safety, but carrying that to bake sales and potlucks is going a little too far.

Our choices are being stripped away from us in the name of safety. Perhaps we have brought that upon ourselves by the bad choices we have been making. Someone has to police us. We take choices away from our children for their own safety until they are old enough to know and responsible enough to make those choices.

Perhaps we are now a society that doesn’t take responsibility for our choices. Others with allegedly more wisdom have to make those decisions for us.

I leave you with one last thought that I am possibly responsible for. Restaurants are inspected and watched, but I contend more people get sick from eating in restaurants than they do at potlucks. You likely know the cook who made a dish at a potlock. You never know who is watching your food at a restaurant. Be nice to your waiter.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.