<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluebike/2430548484/” title=”Adventures in Orthodontics, part 1; or, the medieval torture device (aka palette expander) by bluebike, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3157/2430548484_e349ef4ceb_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”180″ alt=”Adventures in Orthodontics, part 1; or, the medieval torture device (aka palette expander)”></a><br />n<br />nLast summer, Penny started orthodontic treatment. My goodness, already? Yes, indeed, and the first part of her treatment was to make room in her mouth for the rest of the teeth that are due to come in still. Both sides of her gene pool have notoriously small palettes, so we all seem to have small mouths. I myself had to have all four of my wisdom teeth extracted as a teenager.<br />n<br />nThe problem with this first phase of treatment was the orthodontic appliance she was to wear, palette expanders, have to stay in her mouth all the time except when eating or brushing. What that means is that she is to own the responsibility of taking them out and keeping track of them so she doesn’t lose them. We did what we could to help her with that, including giving her a pouch to wear around her neck at all times, especially at school, so she would have a place to put them at break and at lunch.<br />n<br />nIt was probably inevitable, but last week, she forgot to take her pouch with her to school, and at lunch, she wrapped them in a napkin for safe keeping. Then after lunch, she tossed them into the trash with the rest of her lunch remains.<br />n<br />nWe worked with the staff at school so we could search for them. In the trash. In the dumpster, to be exact. That’s right, the next day, Saturday morning found us dumpster diving, digging through the compostable part of the school’s trash. That basically meant digging though all the lunch remains from school from the last two days. It wasn’t really as bad as it sounds, in my opinion. The waste was relatively fresh and it’s been cold out, so it was just all the tossed out food that kids don’t eat.<br />n<br />nWhat struck me the most was the incredible amount of food that the kids throw away. There were many, many barely touched sandwiches, fruit that had one or two, or no, bites taken from them, and more <strong>unopened</strong> cartons of milk and yogurt than I could count. It made me sad in a way how much food gets discarded.<br />n<br />nKids being kids, I guess it was to be expected, this level of waste. But it doesn’t hit home, in a in-your-face kind of way, until you go through that waste and see it firsthand. Thinking about the amount of effort and energy that goes into providing our kids with a healthful meal, not just mom fixing lunch for the kids, but also the growing, processing, transportation that goes into it, it truly is a waste bin.<br />n<br />nAbout those orthodontics: We are working with the doctor’s office to see what our options are, all of which will set us back a few hundred dollars. Not to mention all the waste, all the different kinds of waste I witnessed.