Fifth graders exposed to processed food versus raw

Published 9:25 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

By By JOHN EBY / Dowagiac Daily News
Illinois author Joan Stanek is to juicing what Rachel Ray is to 30-minute meals, from her long, dark hair to her high energy level.
"My kids woke up every morning to the sound of the juicer," she told her lifelong friend Margie Brosnan's fifth grade class at Justus Gage Elementary School Thursday.
She artfully illustrated the wisdom of eating fast food in moderation with a 2-year-old McDonald's Happy Meal.
In the afternoon she repeated her presentation for Bryan Henry's class.
Not only did Brosnan and the former Joan McGloin grow up together in Chicago, but they're neighbors at Priest Lake in Silver Creek Township, where Stanek has owned property for years.
She and Margie "were in a classroom just like this, causing havoc. I love Dowagiac. I've spent a lot of summers here in Dowagiac."
Before she began pulverizing fruits and vegetables, Stanek had been human resources director for Wolverine Trading in downtown Chicago.
Christin and Steven awakened to their mother handing them a glass of carrot-apple juice.
"When you wake up in the morning, your mouth is dry," she said. "That was the way I got them to drink it. Now they're in their 20s and they still juice."
Stanek promotes the live enzymes of juicing for peak performance in her 65-page 2005 book, Juicing for Jocks.
Benefits of juicing she espouses in its pages include boosting energy, shedding unwanted pounds, speeding up the healing process and fortifying endurance, including resistance to colds from building the immune system.
Testimonials include: Victoria, who cured her son's juvenile diabetes in six months; Joe, who eliminated all signs of severe asthma which plagued him his entire life; and 17-year Major League Tim Raines, diagnosed with lupus in 1999.
She gives each of Brosnan's students a Juicing for Jocks T-shirt and not one, but two, of her $14.95 books, personalizing and autographing their copies.
Stanek directs them to give their other book as a Christmas gift.
"I want you to wrap it up and give it to someone you think would really enjoy it. I like to give my books out (which include recipes) as a gift of health and wellness to people."
"There's nothing wrong with buying vegetables that aren't organic," Stanek continued, "but if you're going to juice them, you have to wash them well because you don't want to be drinking pesticide. And don't worry, even if you drink carrot juice (which looks like French dressing), you won't turn orange. And if you do turn orange, hopefully it will be around Halloween" – although orange is never out of season in Chieftain nation.
Stanek, who even juices beets, admits she's "partial to carrots."
Some vegetables taste differently ground up.
Her favorite concoction is fresh pineapple and orange juice.
Brosnan has been stoking the juicer while Stanek talks to students until it's humming with the ruthless efficiency of a wood chipper.
"I have two dogs," Stanek turns back to her topic, "and when they saw me cutting up apples, they started to eat apples. Then they went away to college with my son, and now all they eat is pizza."
Apples juiced taste like cider. Carrots taste sweeter than what Bugs Bunny's accustomed to, Doc, because she cuts them with an apple or two.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," Brosnan reminds her students.
As Stanek writes in her book, health and wellness are her passions, athletes her inspiration.
"Athletes work out a lot, but they don't always have time to eat a full meal. They need nutrients, just like you guys need to be awake in class. Did you ever notice that when you're hungry you're not in a good mood? I'm crabby when I'm hungry. If you don't have time to eat, juicing is a good way to feed your body quickly. It's easy to digest with all the fiber pulled out. I had to pick up my son (at Mount Carmel High School) and feed him between hockey and football. Juice hydrated him without cramping up."
Stanek's presentation begins with a short video – "Pulp Friction?" – and segues from juicing into the preservatives and colorings which creep into processed foods.
She holds up a bottle of orange soda to make the point that it probably contains the equivalent of "12 or 13" sugar packets like their parents stir into coffee.
"If you drink a pop, you're probably going to feel more tired, but then again they have stuff in there like caffeine."
Her Happy Meal is arrayed on a desk top off to the side.
With the unwrapped sandwich, it looks like a student started eating lunch, but was interrupted.
Stanek asks the youngsters to guess its age.
Two days?
A week?
No again.
A month?
Strike three.
Actually, it's 2 years old. She drops the cheeseburger with a wooden thud a croquet ball might make.
"I've seen it before," Brosnan validates Joan's unbelievable claim.
"Notice," Stanek said, "it hasn't changed color – even the cheese is the same color – and no mold has grown on it because mold will only grown on something that has life in it," like a glass of juice.
"There are lots of preservatives in food like this," she points out. "Not that you should never eat McDonald's again. That's not what we're saying. But you might want to limit the amount of processed food you eat. Strike some sort of balance. If you do too much of one thing, that's where you start to have health problems. That's just my opinion. I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist. I'm a mom, which makes me a big deal, right? The fries look normal. They're hard, but they haven't changed color. I kind of laugh because I think the food resembles the toy. They're all 'plastic' after a while."
She said 84 percent of food we eat is processed rather than raw.
Stanek confided to the Daily News that once upon a time she was among those who knew how to navigate a drive-up window.
"Now," she laughed, "I actually went to a drive-through with a young college kid. She wanted a soda. I hadn't been to a drive-through in a million years. I went up to the window and ordered and was sitting there. She said, 'Joan, you have to go to the second window' " to receive her order.
"I didn't know what to do," she said. "She looked at me like I was from another planet. I worked in the financial industry, and now I can't handle a drive-through window."
Since leaving trading and moving out of the Windy City, she's settled in the Quad Cities by Iowa, where she's opening a wellness center.
"It's like a spa, but not facials. More like juicing and oxygen baths," Stanek said. "Now that I'm not working fulltime, I'm promoting the business more," which is also called Juicing for Jocks.
She began developing the concept in 2002 and incorporated almost six years ago in January 2003.
"I talk to all kinds of groups," from athletes and school groups to pregnant women. "I think juicing can reduce morning sickness. I don't like to eat beets, but the juice is like a cleanser for your liver. I don't get crazy, but watermelon is amazing, plus it's somewhat of a diuretic."
Watermelon sounds better than some other juices she writes about, including onion, cucumber and parsley.
When she writes another book, she said it will probably be a love story.