Beware of acronyms



Someday I plan to tell a story of loss, accusation, denial, and the TSA, but not yet. I have been warned by my paranoia to be careful here. I hesitate to spell out TSA as Transportation Security Administration because, for all I know, they flag every mention of their name on the Internet. (Hi, Mr. TSA! You are doing a great job. No need to read further.)


Unfortunately, the acronym mentioned above already has my name and address because I made a formal complaint about an incident in New Orleans. I’m sure that had no connection to being singled out on my last trip through Chicago and made to stand in one of those see-through booths waiting for an agent who never came. I was not far from the conveyor belt where my purse and valuables waited for me, but half of the time my view was blocked by other passengers grabbing things from trays and walking away. I got a good ten-minute workout, bending right and left, standing on tiptoes, straining my neck to peer around people and moving from one corner of my glass booth to the other to make sure the passengers weren’t walking away with my things. Finally an agent walked over to me and said I could go. Maybe being forced to stay in a glass cage is their equivalent of time-out for whiners.


(Note to reader: Sometimes I am stupider than I look. I plan to travel this summer, but now I wonder if I will make it back home. If not, I have really enjoyed getting to know you.)


But that is not what I want to write about today.


Apparently the DHHS, the Department of Health and Human Services, resents the power of the TSA to open your luggage and remove items deemed unsafe or possibly too valuable for you. (You don’t really need that iPad.) The department’s Division of Childhood Development and Early Education, DCDEE, mandates all pre-kindergarten programs serve food that meets guidelines determined by the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. And now, they have the power to open your child’s lunchbox or breakfast box and decide what is safe for the child to eat.

This concerns me for two reasons. First, if you put all those acronyms together, you come up with DHHSDCDEEUSDA. That hardly trips off the tongue the way TSA (Takes Stuff Away) does. It is ugly, gross, and hideous, or what I like to call UGH. Second, the USDA considers chicken nuggets and batter-coated French fries with ketchup healthy food. These are the foods our children receive at day-care centers and schools because we must take into consideration their taste preferences. Never mind offering good food to children and allowing them to develop a taste for fresh food. Give them what they want: processed food with lots of fat and sugar. And if you must serve vegetables, drown them in cheese sauce, mix them in a casserole using canned soup full of excess sodium and additives, or serve huge dollops of dressing to dip those carrot sticks in.


Can you tell this is a rant?


Last week, my daughter received a note from my grandchild’s day-care warning parents not to send any breakfast food such as donuts or pop-tarts. Only healthy breakfast foods are allowed. The following day, my daughter joined her child for lunch. You can imagine her delight at what was served: hotdogs in white buns, oven-baked French fries, canned tangerines, and lots and lots of ketchup. Nutritious, no?  Everything a growing child needs, assuming you consider any of that healthy food and you consider ketchup a vegetable.



Now, excuse me while I bite down very hard on a carrot.




46 thoughts on “Beware of acronyms

  1. It is dismal, indeed, what our children are fed. It amazes me that the nation is confused as to why little Johnny is paving the path to being a morbid obsese adult, as are most of his peers. Michelle Obama’s husband is not my favorite, but I cannot deny I respect her immensley with her efforts to educate the nation and the children (appearing on their cartoon stations) what is healthy and how to be active. I find it imperative to pack my children’s lunches and make breakfast at home, it’s scary what they would consume otherwise.

    • Everyone seems to understand the problem, and the solution seems simple: eat healthy food and get exercise. I’m glad that you are ensuring that your kids get good food. They are probably in the minority.

  2. I can see why you are ranting. You’d think someone at the school would be aware of the hypocrisy (of sending home a note that says don’t send your kids to school with Pop Tarts but then serving hot dogs for lunch). If they are worried about breakfast they should also be worried about lunch. I have to say, though, that I do like the idea of getting rid of junk food and soda vending machines from school, and I guess I wouldn’t mind if some acronym came in and made it so. It’s a mixed bag for me.

    • I agree, Jeannette. If the government is going to regulate the food, I want them to mandate real food and not let large corporations influence the definition of healthy food.

  3. What you describe is GUBU – grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. *Credit* for inventing the GUBU acronym goes to a now deceased Irish politician who was describing a situation that was, surprise, surprise, totally GUBU!

  4. I’m completely with you on this rant, dear. You had me at the point of TSA — my eight year old daughter was detained in the plexiglass box last year on our family trip to Charleston. I’ll never forget the look on her precious face…

  5. Too bad we have a political fight over healthy food for children. It seems that to make a stand for healthy choices gets labeled as medaling in parental rights. Guess that’s MIPR.

  6. I do support the fight against childhood obesity, and I applaud Michelle Obama’s work in this area, but I have to agree that micromanaging children’s home-packed meals is going too far. I thought the purpose of the healthy lunches legislation was merely to change what is served in the cafeteria. I find myself wondering if this is really what is being mandated from above, or if school officials on the ground are implementing incorrectly.

    Regardless, I WILL take a firm and unequivocal stand against acronyms. My record is very clear on this. I hate them! Just FYI.

    • Since the majority of children start life in daycare or preschool, that’s when they need to be introduced to real food – fresh vegetables with no sauces, lots of fresh fruit, tofu, beans, grains, fish, and well prepared meat. I have visited my grandchild’s daycare and seen a plate of carrot sticks and fresh broccoli served with a huge bowl of ranch dressing. Why do small children need dressing? I considered accidentally dropping the bowl of dressing, but there was plenty more where that came from.

      My daughter wrote a kind letter about the food. She was not well received.

      • I’d love to read that letter. I can’t tell you if it was nature or nurture that makes me think catsup and the like are unnecessary, a bit evil, and dammed disgusting (don’t get me started on mayonnaise). Ranch didn’t exist when I was a child, either – but I know I never ate a salad with dressing until I was in my mid 20’s. Never was rich, but cooking or making your own food was just something you did, like cleaning your room or learning to read. I’m more worried at the idea that kids don’t learn to eat – or read – until a school shows them how. Where is the parents’ role in raising their children?

  7. kkkkatie

    This is the world we have created with our demand that we be kept “safe” from every threat at any cost, as though it was a “right” guaranteed by the constitution. And goodness knows we worship our rights and the attendant entitlements in this country. We begin by abdicating responsibility for our own choices (surely someone else is to blame) and end by surrendering our freedom to choose (they’re only doing it to keep us safe). Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the fact that a government that treats its citizens like mindless idiots/criminals will justify any abuse of power, any inconsistent, nonsensical policy as simply a reasonable attempt to “keep us safe” and “promote the general welfare”.I have yet to determine how detaining middle-aged women and 8 year old children or searching the diaper of an elderly, wheel-chair bound woman could possibly keep any of us safe or promote anyone’s welfare. It does, however, begin to desensitize us to being stripped of our dignity at the hands of the government and allowing more and more invasive “searches”…as long as they maintain the illusion of keeping us safe. I wonder how far we are from being required to have “papers” in order to travel or to prove we haven’t fed our children any donuts this week.

    • the Urbane Cowgirl

      There’s a Joan Didion quote that I’ve tried for decades to keep in mind when making choices: “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”

      The culture of “entitlement” that has become so pervasive in our nation makes me just want to “chew nails and spit tacks”, as my momma used to say. I’ve read and re-read the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and for the life of me, I cannot find it anywhere stated that any right is attended by an “entitlement”. That’s what I call MUS (made-up s**t).

      • I like your acronym and agree with your rant, big sister. If someone would have told me 20 years ago that workers in airports could put their hands in my pants and feel under my bra whenever they wanted to, I would have thought they were nuts.

  8. I wonder why it is we are so ashamed of carrots. Her sweetness is not rude nor is it impolite. Her sugar only requires a moment or two or three of peace to know. Why can’t we give her that?

  9. Several times I have visited my school district’s cafeteria to find that they are serving french fries with pizza. Healthy? Not at all. How did they justify this? By calling the french fries a vegetable. Sickening…

  10. I have been on a tear about this all week long and *finally* I find someone else who heard the same story I did – obviously no one in my small town pays attention to news that happens outside of our boundary lines. My son refuses to eat school lunch – he is quite overweight and working hard to lose it (he is has taken off 13 pounds!). I am sure that if the school were to check his lunch, the tuna, the pretzels, the yogurt and protein bars along with the water would be considered COMPLETELY UNHEALTHY! Fried and battered chicken as well as greasy pizza are so much better. *wanders out of the room, ranting incoherently*

    • I identify with you, Cyndi, except I wander out of my mind and rant incoherently.

      How wonderful that your son has lost weight and avoiding the school lunches. Good for him!

  11. Interesting rant… Most of these issues are not my concern though… it just doesn’t touch my life. I know it goes on… but somehow, through good fortune, I have missed it all.

    • I’m glad you haven’t had to deal with it, ShimonZ. I hope the people in your country avoid the fast food that we are exporting all over the world.

      This problem affects all of us here in the U.S. because there is an epidemic of childhood obesity and related health problems. These children are our future.

  12. You aren’t the only one that doesn’t like the TSA. and leaving people inside those boxes???? Was the machine turned ON? I hope not….. There Is cancer causing radiation danger from them. That’s not just rude, that’s heinous.

    We have given up our freedom piecemeal.

    We are to be rounded up and sent to wherever” they” want, whenever “they” want to do so, for as long as “they” want to do it. The new law that was just signed means that they don’t have to tell anyone that “they” even have you. Black Mariah’s here we come.

  13. I had a retired US policeman who is very republican, rather Christian as visitor into my house (which usually contains none of these ideas). When I went into a TSA rant about the latest granny who had to endure an intensive search, he brought be up short with a scary, but actually very thought-provoking idea: what if granny was being forced to bring an explosive on board because someone was holding her child, grandchild, or great-grandchild hostage with the threat of terrible harm if granny DIDN’T strap a bomb into her knickers? It’s a horrifying thought – but if the TSA or the cops can conceive of it, you can be dammed sure anyone truly meaning harm has, also. It doesn’t make any of this easier, but does give an insight into what they are thinking and why…

  14. Have you read Don’t Eat This Book? It’s the companion to Supersize Me, a doc by Morgan Spurlock about McDonald’s and the fast food industry. In the book, he talks about the fast-foodization (I know I made up the word, but it makes sense, lol) of our schools meals. He talks about kids behavioral problems and whatnot. Schools that changed what they fed the kids–going from the fatty, salty unhealthy fare to good, healthy food–had better managed, alert, more agreeable children. More schools are trying to change what they feed the kids, but the corporations they have allowed to take over their lunches (Burger Kings running high school cafeterias, and that sort of thing) had major problems. One school–in an effort to offer healthy choices to kids–decided to only offer bottled water and juice and fruit and such as snacks in their vending machine and Pepsi, who had agreed to donate money to the school for their baseball (I think it was baseball–read the book a few years ago, don’t recall exactly) prior to this yanked their agreed upon funding. School lunches are big business for the companies pedaling this crap, and they will do whatever they can to make sure they keep it firmly in their domain.

    • I haven’t read the book, but I have heard about it. If junk food companies are funding our schools, we really aren’t going to win this war, are we? These companies are counting on addicting kids to their products to ensure they have future customers. There will have to be some sort of grassroots movement – parents and community demanding healthy food, boycotts of junk food, more packed lunches, etc.

  15. Excuse me, but shouldn’t you be biting down hard on an officious gummint character who thinks it his or her duty to shape children’s health with coated fries and ketchup vegetables, rather than on a nice crunchy carrot???

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