The poor academic performance of so many American schoolchildren is a matter of great concern. Over the years, more and more money has been spent on schools. Many programs to enhance education have been introduced. Class sizes have been substantially reduced. Many teachers have aides to help them teach. A host of administrators, counselors, special educators, and other specialists have been hired. Despite recent cutbacks, the amount of real money per child spent today is much higher than it was during my schooldays, yet the academic results are far worse.
It is clear that throwing more money to the schools will not fix the problem. We have been doing that for many years, and performance continues to decline. Money for education is important, but it is not enough.
Academic performance continues to decline, and the U.S. is far behind many other countries, nearly all of whom spend far less money per child on education. Why? Whose fault is it? The teachers? The schoolchildren? The curriculum? The parents? My answer would be—none of the above.
I am convinced that the real cause of poor academic performance is the Standard American Diet, known as SAD. The fact of the matter is that schoolchildren need proper nutrition for their brains to develop and function well, and many of them are not getting it.
SAD makes some kids appear to have learning disabilities. But the problem could be solved by feeding children the foods they need for their brains to develop and function well. The food is animal fat. The most demonized, yet the most desperately needed food of all
The Brain Needs Traditional Animal Fats to Develop and Function Well
Traditional animal fats such as butter, lard, beef tallow, chicken skins, fatty fish, and others are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the brain to develop and function properly. It is that simple. Cholesterol is desperately needed by the brain to function properly. In fact, mother’s milk is higher in cholesterol than any other food. Nature recognizes the need of children for cholesterol, and so should we.
Yes, cholesterol and animal fats have been demonized through massive marketing campaigns. The demonization is just not true. These vital nutrients promote good health, and are vital for survival. See The Skinny on Fats.
The current emphasis on avoiding animal fats and cholesterol deprives children of the nutrients they need for their brains to develop properly and function. How can they possibly learn and do well in school when they are starved of the nutrients they need for their brains to function properly? How can they be expected to behave well when their brains are deprived of the very nutrients needed to keep them in balance? The effect of nutrition on the brain and learning is described by Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in this excellent article: Nutrition and Mental Development.
Vegetable oils and factory fats lack cholesterol and lack omega-3 fatty acids. These oils and fats have a huge imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids that can cause inflammation and have other harmful effects. When you substitute vegetable oils and factory fats for animal fats, the children do not get the vital nutrients they need for their brains. It is that simple.
This problem is especially bad for children who depend on the government for food. The government provides free formula to two million infants. Yet the only formula allowed in the program is made from GMO soy, which contains a number of toxins and none of the vital fatty acids needed by developing brains.
The revised school lunch program only makes things worse, being virtually fat-free and severely restricting protein. It is a prescription for malnutrition and even poorer academic performance.
Real Food Has Improved Academic Performance in the Past
It stands to reason that giving the children the very nutrients they are deprived of, the animal fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and cholesterol are exactly what are needed. This has been done before, with great results.
Last week, I wrote of the school lunch program devised by Dr. Weston A. Price, and the wonderful results it had for some poor children. These children ate an early form of SAD—factory bread and pancakes served with lots of sugar and syrup. They had terrible teeth, poor health, and did terribly in school. Some had severe behavior problems. Dr. Price fed them a lunch rich in animal fat and meat, including plenty of bone marrow and butter. Not only did their dental decay stop cold, but two of their teachers sought Dr. Price out to ask why a particular child, who had been the worst student in the class, had now become the best student.
All that Dr. Price changed was the food they ate at one meal. The schools, parents, teachers, and children did not change. Good nutrition alone was all they needed to go from being complete academic failures to being the best student in the class.
This is only one example. There have been many description of how feeding schoolchildren a diet rich in traditional foods during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries greatly improved their academic performance and behavior in school. Many of the educators who worked with poor children made sure they arranged a good lunch for them as a vital pre-condition for their being able to learn. It should be mentioned that the healthy peoples studied by Dr. Price, all of whom had diets rich in animal fats and cholesterol, had no mental illness, and no problems in educating their children, who had to learn skills that were far harder to use and master than the easy-to-do tasks typical of modern life.
A Solution Worth Trying
The solution I suggest to fix U.S. schools is new, yet very old. Have an affordable school lunch program that will present students with foods rich in traditional fats such as butter, whole eggs, full-fat hormone-free milk, rich meats, bone marrow, and other animal foods that nourish the brain. Give them generous servings, and let them have seconds if they want to. Ban all GMOs, vegetable oils, and factory foods from the program. Give them real food only. If we do this, we can expect the same kind of vast improvement that was noted by Dr. Price, so many years ago. Yes, it will cost money, yet I submit that there is no better area to spend the money on. With proper nourishment, there is every reason to expect that children will be able to focus on school and learn. It has been done, time and time again. Clearly, the current system is not working. Real food is worth a try, and will have other benefits, such as good health and better behavior. It worked for Dr. Price and others, and it can work now.
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