Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm UPSET!!!

WARNING: This is a very long and word-y article. It is a personal opinion which I need to rant about. Read at your own risk!

Sorry folks, no bento today because it's a public holiday here in Malaysia.

So? Why should I be UPSET?

I'll share with you why I'm UPSET.

Nutrition standards and health issues pertaining to our children are important where ever we are. Be it in the USA, Malaysia or Timbuktu. Global news on these issues play a large influencing factor on decisions made by mothers like me, in the course of feeding, clothing and educating our children.

It doesn't matter to me where this news is coming from or who it's directed to because some how and some where I find that there will be some familiarity to our home ground problems.

We may not have "school lunch programs" in most Malaysian schools, but our canteens doesn't serve any healthier foods either.

My ten year old goes to school with a regular supply of tuna sandwiches, sushi, spaghetti, various cookies, apples, oranges, cinnamon bananas and an occasional butter and Marmite sandwich. She is picky and difficult to please. She spends her 15 minute break with her best friend who comes with a constant flow of Nutella sandwiches with a rare and occasional change in menu.

#3's best friend constantly looks over her shoulder to see what is in her 'bento box'. I dread to call hers a 'bento box' because most days, it's only a fruit and a main meal. Nevertheless, #3's best friend is always ready to barter her Nutella sandwiches for anything from #3's box.

#3 is not much of a Nutella fan but she has a BIG heart! She shares some of her food when ever she can. And since #3 has also shared her break time stories with me, I tend to pack a little more for her to share because I was also told that some days her best friend would buy fries, ice-cream and canned drinks to share with her. *shakes head in disapproval*

Last year, on July 10th, 2008, I posted an article about "More reasons to Bento". I made references to an article published by the UK based Press Association on "primary school children eating healthy meals".

The article was very informative and provided some positives on how the new UK Government rules require greater use of fresh ingredients cooked from scratch albeit escalating food prices.

In another related article, it also reported that Secondary school children found it cheaper to buy 'junk food' to eat and thus being able to use 'excess' pocket money for drinks and candies.

I found the articles very 'real' and thus further affirmed that bento packing on my part was the best decision I've made by far. In the early days, many mornings I've hated to wake up that extra 45 minutes and get myself into a frenzied mood of packing bentos for my girls. When I read of articles in relation to the poor standards of food served in schools, I feel re-energized and purpose driven for the sake of my children.

So, why am I UPSET?

Here is why!! When I made reference to my blog post "More reasons to Bento", I found that all the links has been broken. I searched UK Press Association for the said articles, there was ZERO results. I Google-d some 'quoted remarks', there was no inkling of the article. It was as though the article has vanished.

I hate making assumptions and speculations about my opinions, so I leave you to make your own conclusions why the few related articles has dissapeared!

On October 29, 2007, I posted another blog post on "Healthy, Friendly Japan - Lifestyle, Star Online". I am happy to note that the links are still intact. Even the movie link is intact.

Only last week, I came across another article which I found an inspiration. It's a link I found on the Aidan Bento Society blog - 'Bento Days' catching on with schools, kids'.

I thrive on these articles to keep me enthusiastic about bento packing. I blog to share this 'goodness' with people who want to, and can do more for their kids eating habits. Granted, there are some who want to, but cannot for very valid reasons.

For whatever the reasons behind the positives or negatives, I am inspired to be an inspiration to others even if only a few. I am just happy to post a daily bento or two and be the blog with something new to read or with a new picture to look at. I do what I do for the betterment of my children's healthy eating habits and in that course, if someone is inspired to follow suite, it's a plus point.

But... I am human too, and I need to be inspired and affirmed occasionally. I need to know that I am doing right. I need to be reminded that bento packing is really not about going on a frenzy to pick up 'every new bento accessory' even if it costs only RM5. (approximately equivalent to USD1.50/=!!).

I need 'reality checks' to remind me that it's what goes into the box and into my children's stomachs and not the container or accessory that's getting digested! I need to admit my 'addiction' and remedy it. Hahaha! I sound like a "BENTO AA" (Addict Anonymous)

I am aware that part of bento packing is about the 'kawaii' and 'cutesy' display of a balanced meal in a box. In my pursuit of the perfect box, it has taken me over one year and maybe over fifty boxes and a limitless (some useless at this point) amount of accessories to find it! I am sure that many people are in my shoes and share my experience. I guess I can say that I have 'grown' as a bento packer and matured to realize what is necessary and what is a novelty.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not against buying all those 'kawaii and cutesy' bento accessories. I've been there and lived that, but in the light of the economic slowdown and being the practical person that I am, I feel that this indulgence for me is unnecessary.

My inspiration comes from the regularly updated bento blogs or ones with awesome links on their blog roll. My inspiration comes from the bento pictures which I gawk on the bento sites which I regularly and quietly lurk.

My inspiration and self 'reality checks' are also from the far and few in between bento and related articles in the electronic media.

Today, I added a new widget for on my side bar. In the news feed, I saw an article entitled "School Lunch Nutrition Standards Haven't Been Updated In 30 Years".

Please spend a little time watching the video clip in the above link. It is shocking at what is being shared. I am saddened by the 'politics' involved in the food industry which in turn affects the 'School Lunch programs'. I am saddened by the politics and policies which are 'manipulated' from one hand to the other which helps to increase a rising problem with obesity and serious health diseases in children. I am saddened by all this because it is not only happening in the US but I also see familiarity in the home ground.

The hot favorites sold in our local school canteens are: "Nasi Lemak", fries, ice-cream, can-drinks, packets of junk food, sweets and the list goes on. I, for one, counter this problem by packing home cooked food from home. But what about the other kids who feed on the above menu daily?

Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliations with "" or any other names mentioned above. Opinions expressed are my own.


Yvo said...

All you can do is keep doing what you do and know that your children are being properly fed...<3 it is nice of you to pack extras for your daughter's friend! Way before I bento'd, I used to make sandwiches for my boyfriend to bring to work so we could save money together. He likes things very plain so it was bologna or salami on white bread... I made him 2 so he would eat more and be full. I found out he was going hungry because he would "share" a sandwich with his coworker. So I started making 3 and his coworker asked me why I make them with nothing on it! I was so mad I told him to start bringing his own damn lunch then! (I found out much, much, much later that he was joking with me, I guess I didn't find it funny.)
*hugs* I hope you're no longer upset!

Emily said...

aiseh! does this mean that our friday-get-together is off?

Actually, my room has officially ran out of space for any more stashing of any kind! Gotta get rid of some stash. At least you do use your bento stash while I only collect them! DH was shaking his head the other day.

Hey, dont be bothered about others, just continue with the great job you are doing right now!

BTW the author of the Staronline piece is my SIL!

Bento Pet said...

Yvo: Thank you for the comforting comments. *happily hugs back*

Bento Pet said...

Emily: We can still 'makan' right? Mango snow ice?

Jas Min said...

Regarding the bit about packing home cooked food so your children can eat healthier... I just started working this year (in msia) after being overseas for a number of years and after a couple of weeks eating hawker food, I realised how unhealthy eating out is. So the same unhealthy diet we faced in school extends to the working world. The only difference now is that I'm old enough to watch and control my diet by making more effort to prepare some food from home for lunch at the office! Your blog here has definately inspired me to do so. Thank you.

Shirley said...

What you r doing is proof of yr love fr yr children. In the long run they will live healthier lives. I am constantly inspired by yr blog n what you pack fr your kids. Mine just started Yr One this year n I have been packing food fr her too. The canteen food is terribly unhealthy n extremely overpriced so I know I am doing us both a huge favour - her health, my purse!

christinejalleh said...

Hi there, Bento Pet. I understand what you're going through as my Mum experienced the same thing when I was in primary school too.

She stopped working when I was in Std 4-6 and I had delicious packed lunches e.g. simple fried rice, which was the envy of many classmates.

When she found out that I'd been sharing it with friends who came with boring sandwiches etc, she added more so I wouldn't starve LOL

I can imagine how attractive your bentos would be to little girls now :)

When I wrote this article: Sunday Star Metro: Packing It In, I wanted to drive home the point that it's "easy" even for working Mums to pack a healthy lunch box.

I'm impressed by what Jamie Oliver's "Ministry of Food" is trying to do for UK (and the opposition he faces...)

I know that there ARE mothers out there who are bento-ing for a healthy lunch, not just a cute box of food.

I'd like to interview you (and a few other like-minded Mums) for a feature article. If you're keen to discuss this, please email me at christinejalleh[at]yahoo[dot]com

Don't worry about photos and names just yet. I hope to hear from you!

Bento Pet said...

Jas Min, Shirley: Thank you for the very kind support and sharing. God bless you!

Bento Pet said...

christine: Nothing beats having experienced bringing 'home cooked food' vs 'canteen food' to school!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Learn a WORD a day!

How's your spelling?

Your Spelling is Perfect
You got 10/10 correct.

Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.
You Are Cilantro
The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.
The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.
You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.