What’s a healthy food?

My 9-year-old daughter came home from 4th grade this week quite upset about the amount of saturated fat in her diet. She read a few paragraphs during an assignment that told her saturated fats cause heart disease. Around our kitchen, she was frantically reading nutrition labels and rejecting foods like margarine and peanut butter.

Like any parent, I’m anxious when my kids ask the “big questions” in life that I’m not always sure how to answer correctly and age-appropriately. It hadn’t occurred to me that one of those questions might be “But mom, what IS a healthy food?”

Talking about healthy food is much bigger than what my family is choosing to eat for dinner. Our food choices are impacted by the amount of our household budget we can spend on food, the time and knowledge and skills and interest we have in shopping and preparing foods, and especially by the community that we live in, including food options within our schools and workplaces, and local, state and federal laws about farming and food products.

Who is qualified to answer these nutrition questions? 


View complete list

Where can we learn more about local food issues in Shawnee County?

Download the complete report “Shawnee County Food System Assessment 2017” prepared by Shawnee County’s community health coalition, Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods.

View the one-page infographics created from the Community Food System Assessment.

What’s next?

I’m happy to report that after I brought home Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan, my daughter showed it to me excitedly, pointing to the table of contents, and said “Mom, look! Everything you need to know is basically right here.”

“Eat food.

Mostly plants.

Not too much.”

We’re on the right track to continue these conversations, learning and reading and using library resources to continue to understand the complicated answers to her simple question “What’s a Healthy Food?”

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book discussion leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She loves her kids, being a librarian, living in Topeka, and helping people form connections and community. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed the audiobook of "Let's Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc." by Jeff Tweedy, which a library customer recommended to her.