Slow Food Catches On Fast

Some American schoolchildren are learning that slow is good for their health.

With childhood obesity a growing crisis, kids are being taught to change their diets and, as CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports, they're getting some extra knowledge on the side.

At one private Harlem elementary school, today's lesson isn't reading, writing, or arithmetic.

It's about beans.

Instead of pizza and hamburgers on the run — the usual meal for many kids — this after-school program teaches about old-fashioned unprocessed foods and why they're good for you.

"In this neighborhood, there's a lot trouble with high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, children with diabetes," says principal Kathy Egmont, principal of the Children's Storefront School.

Nationwide, childhood obesity is at all time high. more than 15 percent of children ages six to 11 year olds are obese. Thirty percent are overweight, and for minorities, the percentage is higher. Many experts blame fast food.

"When money is tight and time is even tighter, it's a lot easier just to go and get something very quick," says Judy Joo, of Slow Foods Association of America.

The after-school program was Judy Joo's idea. She's a former culinary institute student and a volunteer tutor at the Children's Storefront School. She persuaded the principal to introduce the slow food movement — a non-profit effort that teaches where food comes from and how it should be enjoyed.

"What you put in your body really affects how you feel, and how you are what you eat, essentially," she says.

Already, this slow foods class is inspiring some children to do great things. One student, Camarii Haythe, wants to be a chef.

"It's my dream," Camarii says. "My destiny."

Camarii's father, Sean Haythe, says the class helps his son make better choices.

"Of course, they want the junk food and the sugar, you know, so it's just getting them to eat a lot of vegetables," he says.

"The only beans that I know is peas and string beans," Camarii says. "That was the only beans that I knew. Now I know a whole thousand more."

It's the kind of lesson that slow food advocates hope to spread to other children — if only a bite at a time.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com