Our Monday green news brings you the latest on nutrition, good causes and child education:
- American parents now prefer real natural food flavors and colors: Artificial flavors and colors are becoming less acceptable to American consumers. According to a 2013 survey, about one quarter of American shoppers are now checking food labels in order to avoid buying products with artificial additives, which is 15 percent more than a year before. Also globally, sales of natural food colorings also exceeded artificially made food colors. The result is greater pressure on the food industry to use all-natural alternatives. However, a bigger problem lies with the processed foods that contain these flavors and colors. Specifically children’s snacks are loaded with kid-friendly colors and flavors, which are for most part very unhealthy for kids to eat, despite natural additives. The best solution for a balanced diet-especially for children-is to avoid processed foods altogether and replace them with colorful fresh produce, which is full of important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
- 15 handy household uses for mint: This easy-to-grow herb has actually more uses than most people realize-from delicious food addition, a healthy tea, a fragrant potpourri to an insect-repelling spray. This sweet-smelling plant also has soothing and anesthetic properties that make it a great ingredient for homemade body-care products. See more about how to grow teh mint plant and all its natural uses that can get quite handy.
- Are standardized school tests really necessary for young children? In several states children age 4, 5 and 6 are now required to take the Common Core State Standards. According to Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, early childhood education expert, taking multiple-choice tests based on scripted, highly academic curriculum is not only developmentally inappropriate for these very young children, it defies common sense. They call for the ending of Common Core tests in grades K–2: “The standardized assessments being administered to first-graders and even kindergartners in New York and elsewhere have put this issue in sharp relief. What is being required of young children is unreasonable, inappropriate and developmentally unsound. Young children need opportunities to engage in active, age-appropriate, play-based learning. They need to figure out how things work, explore, question and have fun.”