Program for Growth workshop emphasizes eating to prevent lead poisoning


Tracy Booth, RD, leads Program for Growth workshop on foods that address lead poisoning

OKT’s Program for Growth at Martin Luther King Leadership Academy is growing more than food in the gardens out front of the school. Workshops continuing with Tracy Booth RD are inspiring participants to grow, purchase, and prepare healthier foods for their families. Because the MLK school neighborhood is in one of Grand Rapids’ lead poisoning hot-spots, last Monday’s workshop focused on three key nutrients that help rid the body of lead: calcium, iron and Vitamin C.

june1Lead poisoning especially impacts infants and children’s growing bodies and brains, causing developmental delays and behavioral problems, including aggression. Lead comes to the 49503 and 49507 neighborhoods via the soil, housing with lead paint, and possibly via the water supply, when old lead pipes are still in service. Here’s a breakdown of foods that can help:

  • Iron-rich foods: Deep green leafy vegetables like collards, mustard greens, kale, spinach; legumes (pinto, navy, black, and adzuki beans etc. and red lentils); raisins and dried prunes; meat.
  • Calcium rich foods: In addition to dairy, tuna, salmon, seeds (poppy, celery, chia and sesame), almonds, beans and lentils (legumes), and dark leafy greens (see above).
  • Vitamin C-rich foods: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi fruit, kale, and mustard greens.

june2.jpgCooking in an iron skillet and eating a vitamin C food along with an iron rich food helps the body absorb even more iron.

Miss Tracy also emphasized that we all need to eat more fruit and vegetables, especially fresh ones like those growing in the Program for Growth garden. “Make meat your side dish not your main dish,” she says.