Nutrition is our fuel. For our youth, it is vital to their health and growth. When I have interacted with our local youth at career days, Ag Days or 4-H meetings, I like to break the ice with this, “Write down on a piece of paper, anonymously, what you had for breakfast this morning.”

The anonymous writings include everything from “nothing” to “Doritos and soda,” with healthy choices being rare. Nutrition is so important for our youth, as they are at a critical time in the growth of their bodies that will need to last them a lifetime.

The lesson I try to impart on young people is this, your body is like a car, but this car is yours for life; you cannot trade it in.  If you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you. So, if you don’t put quality fuel in it, it will fail you. I regularly encourage consuming dairy, especially milk, as part of that healthy choice path.

I don’t just talk the talk; I aspire to walk the walk. For years I was a member of the California Milk Advisory Board. With funds from the CMAB and some of my own, we have, for years, sponsored real California chocolate milk for the JV and varsity football teams after the game. With its 13 essential nutrients and vitamins, there is just no beverage (or food) that can compete.

Kirsten Areias

Kirsten Areias, who recently received the Merced Chapter California Women for Ag Bell Ringer award for promoting agriculture, writes a regular agriculture column for The Westside Express.