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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Heights Students Learn Impact of Food Choices

Oct. 8, 2018 -- Students in 11 biology classes at Heights High had an opportunity to apply the topics they study in class to something they do every single day: figure out what to eat. Freshmen and sophomores from classes taught by Marquiza Russell, Janett Korb, Samantha Greene and Eric Piechowski spent their science period listening to a presentation by Brad Lewis of the national non-profit, the Ethical Choices Program.

The 45-minute program, titled The Environment and Modern Agriculture, took a closer look at how students’ individual food choices impact their health, the environment and the well-being of animals. They learned about the disproportionate amount of water, land and other natural resources required to raise animals for meat and dairy versus the amount required to grow grains or produce. They also looked at the excessive production of waste and mistreatment of animals in modern agriculture.

Students were shocked and often disgusted by the images they saw, as well as the stats they heard. When Mr. Lewis asked them to complete the sentence, “Eight million land animals are killed for food every ______________,” students piped in with “day,” “month” and “year,” before being told it was actually every hour. “What? How is that even possible?” called out one student from the audience.

The Ethical Choices Program insists that it isn’t trying to dictate what food choices students make, but simply wants to arm them with as much information as possible so they can make their own informed decisions. Many students came away ready to do just that. Bria Braxton, a 9th grader, was particularly concerned about the hormones and steroids fed to animals that she then eats. “This stuff goes into my body and affects my immune system too! This makes me want to change the way I eat.”

Jordan Hooker agreed. He was a vegan for several months a few years ago, but “then I had that one steak and it was just too delicious.” When asked if maybe he could take a less extreme approach, cutting out meat one or two days each week or limiting it to certain meals, he said, “Sure, that’d be easy. But I actually might go vegan again after watching this.”

The Ethical Choices Program is ready to help and has a food coach available free of charge to Heights students and their families should they choose to make a change.  
 
Student watching presentation

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