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The Modern-Day Slaughter of the Innocents

    As a child I enjoyed seeing the child Jesus lying in the manger in our Homemade cr�che in the living room. But there was another part of the Christmas story I thought about--the slaughter of the innocents. How many of them were there? How did they kill them? Did they have a lot of pain? If it was my baby brother how would I be able to save him from death?

    A few weeks ago I read a statistic that amazed me. It was that cancer was an important cause of death in children fifteen and under. I remembered the question I had as a child when I thought about the slaughter of the innocents---did these young children have a lot of pain? If it was my young brother how would I be able to save him from a horrible death? In our country, we do know that cancer can attack a weakened immune system and that the immune system of a child can be affected by insufficient amounts of quality food.

    How can a family afford and prepare quality food if both parents and in many cases a single parent have to work long hours just to pay the high cost of the bare minimum expenses of running the household--- how can they take the time and patience that it takes to feed a young child the nutrition she or he needs in order to have a strong immune system. We have to start from this reality--unless they have an extended family that is willing to pitch in or if they are able to live in a supportive community where they can pool their resources without being intrusive, their situation is extremely difficult.

    A recent study indicates bad eating habits start before age 2, for the full article see Kids Meals.

    The study involved random telephone interviews conducted in 2002 that asked parents or primary caregivers what their youngsters ages 4 months to 2 years ate that particular day.

    Up to one-third of the children younger than 2 consumed no fruits or vegetables, according to the survey. And for those who did have a vegetable, French fries were the most common selection for children 15 months and older.

    Nine percent of children 9 months to 11 months old ate fries at least once per day. For those 19 months to 2 years old, more than 20 percent had fries daily.

    Hot dogs, sausage and bacon also were daily staples for many children � 7 percent in the 9- to 11-month group, and 25 percent in the older range.

    More than 60 percent of 12-month-olds had dessert or candy at least once per day, and 16 percent ate a salty snack.

    Thirty to 40 percent of the children 15 months and up had a sugary fruit drink each day, and about 10 percent had soda.

    The study also found that parents were ignoring widely accepted practices by allowing:

  • 29 percent of infants to eat solid food before they were 4 months old.

  • 17 percent to drink juice before 6 months

  • 20 percent to drink cow's milk before 12 months

    Shortcomings were more pronounced for families receiving financial assistance through the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the study found. More than 40 percent of WIC toddlers did not eat fruit on the survey day, and those children also drank more sweetened beverages.

    So what do we do when we are exhausted from a day's work and look forward to meeting a hungry family at the door--we bring home fast food, soda, French fries or send out for pizza. That�s better than nothing and we are used to the taste. It is also an expensive way to provide food for the family "that feeds but half man's hunger"

    The sugar and starches increase the levels of blood sugar which in a short time sends a signal to the body to increase the supply of insulin to bring down the blood sugar level. The activated insulin brings down the blood sugar and the family is hungry again. The body is depleted and needs another quick fix of sugar and empty calories and the insulin works on overtime until it is depleted and the family members, adults and young children alike, are faced with the threat of diabetes.

    The headlines tell us that more children succumb to diabetes each day. We can see it is a complex problem with no simplistic solutions. The family needs all the money it can earn in order to survive and doesn�t have the time and sometimes even the knowledge to prepare meals safe to eat�the children are culturized by the media and their peer group to eat and drink food that does not nourish the cells of their young bodies and who insist on sugar and empty calories that causes their bodies� to alert the activation of insulin to bring down the blood sugar level caused by the rise of the blood sugar. There is a connection between the sugared food and empty calories with overworked insulin and the hyperactive disinterested child in the classroom.

    Cancer and diabetes, depression and hyperactivity, isolation and TV!

    When I was a child I thought often about the Slaughter of the Innocents and the terrible sorrow and injustice that their families suffered. "Did it hurt when they died?" "If I lived at that time would I have been able to warn them in time." and I ask again in my maturity in this present day Slaughter of the Innocents. Is there anything we can do to prevent their suffering so much pain?"

    We cannot make extraordinary changes in a short time but we can recognize where we are at and try to work around our problem of feeding our families so that they do not suffer hunger and disease on the sugar and expensive empty calories many of them are now eating.

    When I worked and raised my family, I got help and insights from the women I knew and with whom I worked. They had practical solutions that were not readily available in books or lectures or even in Doctors' offices. One of the women had a three year old child and would give the child her morning juice in a bottle which also contained the child's multivitamins and a teaspoon of Norwegian cod liver oil. The child stayed healthy.

    Another working mother bought an inexpensive crockpot and threw in the potatoes, vegetables, onions, garlic and seasonings, and the family would wake up to a delicious soup that was available for the family all day. Another friend of mine provided her family with healthy meals when they came home from school and work by filling the crock pot with lentils, beans, chicken or stew and letting it cook on slow while she went to work. When she came home there was a hot meal waiting for her and family. She pointed out that the crockpot was safe and used approximately the energy of a light bulb.

    Another woman used her stainless steel pressure cooker constantly--they now have safety features, which were not available in the pressure cookers that caused problems years ago. They are safe and are an extraordinary help.

    I have made a 69-cent package of black beans, which I seasoned with onions and garlic, feed the entire family in 15 minutes. The recipe books that come with crockpots and pressure cookers are simple and take only a few minutes--the vegetable soup took 8 minutes. The new potatoes with green beans takes 7 minutes, the beef stew approximately 30 minutes.

    No, of course there is no panacea to the complex issues surrounding food in the home, but women can help one another---not with complex time-consuming recipes for which they cannot afford the time or the money, but with a helping hand so they can help feed their families.

    � 2003 Mabel Gil