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  1. Even if one doesn't care about those kids, kids who behave better create a better learning environment for other kids at the school, too. Teachers and school staff who are having to manage unhappy and unruly kids all day are people who are not actually TEACHING. I mean, I definitely fall into 'take care of them because it is the right thing to do' camp, but there really are a heck of a lot of practical points, too. re: bottled water. I am glad you can get it on food stamps. I can see why someone would choose drinks with calories over bottled water if they are having to maximize the grocery budget, but bottled water seems like the sort of thing someone who has never had to worry about water quality would decide is a 'luxury' item and poor people don't need luxury items, because the only reason someone would buy bottled water is snobbery. It's ridiculous that people are in situations where they do have to buy bottled water to drink, but as long as they are in those situations, we should at least help them buy it. Safe water is a pretty basic need.
  2. For some reason it has only just occurred to me that my dad might find Sous vide useful. He can cook but generally finds it too much work. He could probably handle sticking a chicken breast in a plastic bag in a water bath and ignoring it for a few hours, though...
  3. It just occurred to me that another issue involved is that the tap water in many places with a high population of people on food stamps, at least in urban areas, is likely not safe to drink due to issues like lead in the water from old and poorly maintained pipes. (Everyone has heard of Flint now, but it isn't the only place with the issue.) So then do you spend money on water, which has no nutritional value, or on sweetened drinks, which at least provide calories? (I don't even know if you can get bottled water using food stamps.) We just had a thing here because they changed the chemicals in the water in some areas and it wasn't protecting against lead leeching from pipes as well - my household was all using bottled water until we could get the water properly tested because the house is from 1920-1930 and I think the pipes to the house in the street are about the same age.
  4. Breakfast! 2017 (Part 1)

    I need a "want" option, "like" is not good enough.
  5. Around here, too. Or if not at the school, then at city sponsored day camps. They try to have some kind of program over long breaks, too, so kids don't go hungry when school isn't in session. Often those programs are at a community building, not the school itself, but the city is definitely involved in organization and funding, it isn't just an independent charity thing. (We have those, too. Churches and so on.)
  6. True. I am pleased that they aren't lumping milk in with everything else based on calories, though. It makes me cranky that our local school for a while was giving the kids skim milk only as part of trying to be 'healthy' - first, kids need a ton of calories relative to size, so if you're giving them good food in reasonable portions (which certainly we should be doing at school) then they don't need to be having 'diet' foods, especially since fat and protein are what make you feel full. Second, the major 'good things' in dairy products are vitamin D and calcium which are fat soluble. No fat, no absorption of the calcium. So if you're giving the kids milk as a snack (which they do for younger kids) and giving them skim milk and nothing with fat (usually the milk is paired with fruit these days since nut allergies mean peanut butter crackers are out) then nutritionally you aren't doing much better than a soda anyway. They've since switched to low fat/2%, which is better. (Hilariously, for a while the choices were plain skim milk, or chocolate or strawberry flavored 2%. So from the point of view of calcium and feeling satisfied with the snack, the better choice was the added sugar flavored milks. Resident kiddo was pretty happy to have the excuse to drink the tasty flavored stuff, but as nutritional options went it wasn't the best.)
  7. If sugar is awful, though, then even fruit juice without added sugar should be considered pretty bad - many fruits have plenty of sugar in them as it is and usually when you have juice you consume an awful lot relative to actually eating a piece of the same fruit. (Look how much juice you usually get from a single orange, for example, compared to a typical glass of orange juice from a bottle.) So that is inconsistent. (Actually, I'd like to see a better breakdown of the numbers since the NYT article appears to be quoting figures that include fruit juices as part of soft drinks, and given that people have long been taught that fruit juice is a good thing and soda is bad to give kids, people could be buying fruit juices to replace sodas and people looking at the numbers in the article are assuming it's mostly soda. But someone buying fruit juice actually is making a 'good' choice per historical teaching about beverage choices.) (Excuse me if I missed something in the article or am not clear, we are having a bunch of plumbing replaced - yay old houses - and there is so. Much. Jackhammering. right now, I can't hear myself think.)
  8. Unfortunately, statistics say yes - those kids are much much more likely to grow up to be functional and contributing members of society if we support them even if their parents are dropping the ball, which is better for society overall. There was a study done a bit ago looking at something like just providing free pre-school at age 4 and the difference it made in how many kids went on to get good jobs, etc. was startling. There are plenty of people from all walks of life busily reproducing who really shouldn't be, heck knows I went to high school (private) with a lot of kids who were fed well but neglected worse than many kids of parents who spent time with them but couldn't afford to feed them enough. Making babies isn't particularly difficult. I actually think school breakfasts are a good idea in general, though - my housemate can most certainly afford to feed his kid, but the school district does breakfast for everyone (and lunch) and having the meal at school seems to get kids into the swing of the school day better. I guess it acts like a transition period between arriving and classes starting? He's in 6th grade so the teacher/adult assistance required for eating is pretty minimal, not like with little kids who might need more help. So food at school can have a role besides just feeding hungry kids. (Our school district did away with the means testing for meals a couple of years ago - once you figure in administrative costs apparently it works out cheaper for us to just feed everyone free than to have people chasing around to make sure kids who need it are signed up, and other kids pay, etc. And the social workers and case workers are now free to focus on serious issues like kids showing signs of learning difficulties or major home problems.)
  9. Fried Polenta question

    ... now I want some cornmeal mush and maple syrup, darn you all.
  10. I find the attitude very dismissive of the other factors. To be fair, I am deeply skeptical of the entire 'fitness and nutrition' lobby. The idea that a complicated issue like obesity or diabetes can be attributed to just one Big Bad Food like sugar is hard to swallow, particularly in light of the history we have of declaring something the newest Big Bad only to decide later on that no, it wasn't the problem at all really. (Fat, sodium, carbohydrates, now its mostly refined carbohydrates and specifically sugar, dietary cholesterol.) I have an auto immune disease, and the more research they do, the more it seems like they find out they don't REALLY understand what is going on. I mean, a recent drug trial got canned because it was possibly making people suicidal even though they didn't see any potential mechanism for it to have any direct influence on mental health and brain chemistry. (The expectation was that sure, being sick might lead to depression and getting better might change that, but the drug itself wasn't expected to do anything.) The same thing seems to happen with other health issues - there is some thought that obesity may be related to gut bacteria populations, for example. And I believe someone else found a possible link to viral infection. Heck, the human body is complicated enough that it is entirely possible there is more than one thing causing the same symptom (weight gain) - there's more than one autoimmune disease that causes joint pain, and some of them look VERY similar if you don't know exactly what to look for. That makes it very hard for me to say that it is okay to make things worse for people who are already in a bad place just because we want to believe that sugar is the Big Bad and if we get rid of soda pop everyone who gets SNAP will be healthier and no longer overweight. (Never mind that being poor is stressful which we know is horrible for your health and leads to elevated levels of hormones like cortisol which do have a role in encouraging the body to store fat.) In any event, my housemate poses a question - if Coke is not allowed, what about fruit juices?
  11. 'It seems like sometimes you can find foraged stuff that's not nearly as far out in the middle of nowhere as you'd think, which is mostly what I meant. The photos need not be of grand sweeping picturesque vistas to be interesting - the edge of a stream or a close up of a tree trunk can be just as effective at reminding people what is around them.
  12. I'm thinking the photos would be in addition to whatever is actually in-house. You create the feel with the in-house stuff and build curiosity, and then the photos feed the curiosity about the ingredients that aren't in-house. But the glass walkway would be an issue for people - fear of heights, and, as pointed out, if you're wearing a skirt you might be quite uncomfortable walking across, especially with someone in the room underneath.
  13. Fried Polenta question

    The way Lidia does polenta is extremely tasty.
  14. From limited experience using a portable induction unit and talking to chefs using portable units at events, between normal electric and induction, I'd go induction in a heartbeat. Just do some research to make sure you get a decent model, same as you'd do with any major appliance, and make sure enough of your cookware is induction-friendly. (You can get a plate of metal to put on an induction burner to allow the use of non-ferrous pans, but of course that loses all the control of the induction. Still, it'd be easy enough to store so I'd pick one up if you do have pots and pans you use occasionally that won't work on induction. For example, the plate method would be perfectly adequate for plopping a large aluminum stock pot of water on top of, if you don't want to replace your stock pot, or for heating the bottom of an aluminum roasting pan so you can deglaze it to pour into a saucepan for sauce or gravy. Those sorts of things.)
  15. I was wondering the same thing. I'm now also wondering about using some technology in the design and decoration in the sense of digital photo frames or similar that are easily updated so they could routinely be changed to include photos from recent foraging outings or closer photos of the activity in the basement rooms to allow guests to get a bit more up close and personal with the ingredients and the season and so on? I'm not sure if you'd actually want them to be able to display information about the ingredient also, perhaps only on request? (I'm picturing something where these are placed so that people seated at tables can still see them clearly and reach to interact if so desired.) Dunno, just a thought. I do feel like in a city, some degree of visual aids as to the season in the 'wilderness' may help build a connection between the guests and the seasonal foods - many people don't know or forget what it looks like off the beaten path just a bit, and are used to seeing the seasons reflected in manicured lawns and the condition of streets. That does also require someone taking photos and preparing the material, though. (I know you don't necessarily go trekking into the middle of nowhere to forage, so wilderness is relative.)