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Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" 2010


David Ross
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I'm nearing retirement and I've wondered what I should do with my spare time when I have no job to go to. I've watched some of the young women at my office who are at the lower end of the pay scale either eating garbage from the vending machines or constantly coming back with greasy hamburgers to mindlessly swallow in the remaining 10 minutes of their lunch hour. When I've had friendly conversation with them about food, I find out that this is the way they also feed their children. They tell me they have no time to fix dinner. I've begun to think that what I should do with those retirement days is have classes that are based on that "I have no time" theory. Here's how it works. I start making tacos (with good ingredients bought from my saturday shopping) and they get in their car and run to the taco fast food restaurant. I keep the kids with me and I involve them in the prep in some appropriate manner and we talk about the food, their day, whatever. By the time she gets back from the taco place, I will have the tacos made and we'll be ready to eat. With the extra money they save, my husband can show them the advantages of putting that money into their 401K that they all tell me that can't do because they have no extra money! Now I understand that this might not work for every meal because of schedules, etc. but at least it's a start and hopefully, gets them wondering if there isn't something else they can do to make eating better and often times cheaper. Of course, the biggest challenge for some of these moms is that their kids think they know what a taco, burger, chicken nugget should taste like and the real deal is a far cry from that. Luckily for me, I never introduced my kids to that food and by the time they could try it on their own, they thought it was disgusting.

Jean -

Are you my long lost twin? I have frequently thought of doing the same thing. Unfortunately, I am not close to retirement but I keep thinking of offering to do a community class on quick healthy low cost meals.

I think the Jaime Oliver show, if nothing else, brings the issue to the attention of many Americans. Every little bit helps and can be a building block. I have been appalled by what they serve at my daughter's school and felt powerless to change it.

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This should make us smile. Not exactly sure whee to post. here it is:

At my Doc's office yesterday. He used be very heavy and has slimed down. Owns is own gym a very health conscious atmosphere abounds. Posters adorn both examining rooms about the food pyramid, another showing vegetable's vitamin and nutrient content etc, and of course, the one I dread the most, the height/age/gender graft where you see what your healthy weight should be, mine is pegged in the darkest shade of red :unsure:

I walk out to the desk to get parking validation, the head nurse's daughter just get's dropped off from school, hellos, introductions, goodbyes, she proceeds to take out her McDonalds Happy meal and starts to eat :):blink: LOL

Edited by Aloha Steve (log)

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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It made me smile :smile:

And here is mine... My company now wants to make our basement into a workout room. Before you say, "What's wrong with that?" First of all, we're in southeast Louisiana. What in the heck is a basement doing in this building anyway (we don't have basements here -- can you say "flood"). Anyway, and for a variety of reasons, our basement has flooded on many of occasions and for many reasons. Now, with predicted layoffs and other measures, they want to make our basement (constructed in the early 60s with all of the asbestos that comes with that) a HEALTH room. :blink:

Sometimes this place just tickles me pink.

Rhonda

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Sorry but I couldn't "stomach" very much of the show and quit at the second break of the first show. 60 Minutes meets Monty Python or maybe PeeWee Herman does reality TV. Fake drama, pseudo science, poorly researched, ladle on the guilt trip with a shovel, let’s poke MORE fun at West Virginia, blather. It will probably be a huge hit if they think to add a laugh track or maybe vote people out of town if they don’t cooperate.

That said, the guy’s heart IS probably in the right place but REALLY, is it really possible that in this day and age that anybody who is even slightly interested can’t figure out good food from bad? And as a scarier aside, does it really matter?

Satire alert…

We’re in an age where the government is making restaurants put calorie counts and all sorts of warnings on their menus; where nearly every grocery product we buy has a nutrition label and many also carry warnings, where some kinds of fats are being outlawed; where salt has been attacked as a deadly killer, HFCS is made public enemy #1 and even spinach KILLS CHILDREN with deadly bacteria! In the US, Big brother is just getting its toes wet in the waters of controlling what we will be allowed to eat. The recent passage of our new mega-health reform act gives the government an even greater opportunity to intervene in all of our consumptive activities “for our own good”. How long will it be until not serving “all the right colors” on the family dinner plate will be a criminal act (or at least probable cause for a child-endangerment investigation)? We’re already charging mothers with abuse or threatening to take their children away from them for feeding their kids the fresh milk from their own healthy dairy animals (because it hadn’t been pasteurized). I say wait a few years and the whole point of the TV show will be moot. We’ll all be eating exactly how the government tells us to… OR ELSE!

Back to earth now.

Factually, according to recent demographic information, the biggest difference between the CDC’s healthiest and least healthy places boils down to money and education. The healthiest places are much wealthier and better educated on whole than the unhealthy communities. I’m not saying that being poor and uneducated precludes eating well; in fact a good case can be made that it costs less to eat properly but it does, in general, take more work, skill and time to do so. Anyway, I’m not sure that any TV show can begin to overcome those kinds of immense socio-economic obstacles and their accompanying fast food inertial momentum.

Then again, what’s to lose by trying?

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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It made me smile :smile:

And here is mine... My company now wants to make our basement into a workout room. Before you say, "What's wrong with that?" First of all, we're in southeast Louisiana. What in the heck is a basement doing in this building anyway (we don't have basements here -- can you say "flood"). Anyway, and for a variety of reasons, our basement has flooded on many of occasions and for many reasons. Now, with predicted layoffs and other measures, they want to make our basement (constructed in the early 60s with all of the asbestos that comes with that) a HEALTH room. :blink:

Sometimes this place just tickles me pink.

Rhonda

I think they'd have better luck with an indoor pool, don't you?

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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Today I asked three of my employees if they had heard of Jaime Oliver and I was pleasantly surprised that all three said that not only had they heard of Jaime but they've either heard or seen "Food Revolution."

Talking to just three people is only a sort of rough sampling, but I came away with some interesting thoughts. Two of them are pretty concientious of their diets and what they eat, although they aren't really informed cooks. You don't have to necessarily know a lot about cooking to be interested in eating right and eating healthy and responsibly--which is one of the basics of Jaime's challenge.

One of my employee's shops for her fresh fruits and vegetables at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods--another suprise to me since I wouldn't classify her in the economic demographic of the shopper who normally has the means to regularly shop at an upscale market. She knows their produce is higher quality and costs more but is worth it. She is fortunate to live in a large metropolitan area like Seattle that offers both stores. Living in large urban areas does afford one the opportunity to find a wide variety of different types and scales of markets and varieties of foods. Residents of Huntington, West Virginia may not have a Whole Foods nearby, but do they have options to buy fresh produce? Certainly they must.

One of the employees has learned to buy just a few banana's or a few oranges at a time rather than a 10lb. bag of oranges and let most of them spoil before they are eaten, only to have to throw them out. Why do we have this urge to "buy in bulk" in America and let so much fresh food go to waste? My employee said he's been shopping "to scale" for a while now, but watching "Food Revolution" made him realize how it's important more than ever to shop and eat responsibly.

One final point I drew from my unscientific mini-focus group of three employees today was that none of them wanted their young kids to have to be teased at school or have to be tested for diabetes like the kids on one of the episodes of "Food Revolution." So in some small way Jaime is making a difference so far.

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I think that's the whole point. Despite the fact that he most certainly won't sway everyone, he just needs to sway a few and start the seeds of thought necessary in everyone to be - even if it's just a bit - more conscious of what they eat, what they buy, how they consume. The show is a bit heavy on the "shock value" (maybe not quite the right descriptor), but motives and money aside, if it can help get the ball rolling for people to actively control their intake, this is a good thing.

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Not a personal anecdote, but this quote from Overheard in New York illustrates the issue perfectly...

Woman in store: Let me get a bacon and cheese on a roll.

Deli guy: Okay, bacon egg and cheese on a roll.

Woman: No eggs! I have high cholesterol, I'm trying to stay away from that... Just bacon and cheese on a roll, and put some mayonnaise on it. (mutters under her breath) Pshhh, eggs, you tryin to kill me with high cholesterol.

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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I can see where the people of Huntington are coming from. Wet Virginia gets beat up pretty good, and this may seem like more of the same. I think it was unfortunate that they never really fully explain the study. They sorta do, but at the same time, it seems like they just picked Huntington "randomly".

Calling the workers at the school cafeteria "lunch ladies" got Jammie into more trouble than he already was. The workers there are really powerless to do anything. Really, it's not their responsibility. They know all to well that they are given very strict directions on what is to be served. It's a bit surprising that Jamie didn't really know this in advance. It's really the root of the problem. Yes, the guidelines can be dumb. But if they aren't followed, trouble can come about. It's a real tough battle. Can you do a "grass roots" effort like Jamie is trying to do at a school system like the one they have in Huntington? It seems like a tall task. But so is the task of taking it from the other direction.

I'm sure they're playing up the ignorance of the townspeople somewhat, but even with a healthy dose of exaggeration, their attitudes make me embarrassed to be an American. The "lunch ladies" in particular came off badly. They're lunch ladies, that's what the kids have called them since I can remember, and getting all snippy about the title just shows how much they really care. They want to be called cooks, but I don't see how what they're doing qualifies. They can follow the package directions and reheat or steam frozen crap, but that doesn't make them cooks. It just makes me sick to see all the red tape he has to fight through just to get anything done, and the attitudes of the people that are supposed to be working for the welfare of the children are just appalling. I know guidelines can be dumb, and you have to follow them, but his first effort with a school menu was better then the standard lunch menu, even with the stupid "bread" issue. And as far as which meal the kids picked, OF COURSE they picked the crap when they had a choice. They're kids. I think the result would have been much better if they had JUST Jaime's food.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I hadn't realized how messed-up the schools really are until I saw the second episode on Thursday night. We've not only got the issue of School Districts trying to provide food programs under restrictive budget conditions, but they're also dealing with standardized federal and state dietary guidelines that often just plain don't make sense. And along with that goes an incredible amount of food waste that is socially irresponsible that sends a terrible message to the kids.

The high school kids all but avoided the fresh salad bar line and waited for their everyday feed of hamburger--and fried chicken sandwiches and fries along with a choice of sugary chocolate or strawberry milk. I would imagine that all those salad bar items were thrown out at the end of the day as probably little of it could be refrigerated and re-used the next day.

It was really appalling that the noodles Jamie made to accompany his teriyaki chicken didn't meet the standard for having enough vegetables, (he included 7 fresh veg in the noodles), because it only filled something like 2 of the four compartments on the lunch tray. At least that is what I got out of what the lady who was policing the cafeteria said. So he apparently only had meat and carbs on the tray and no veg in the other compartments or something like that so it didn't meet the standards.

I get the fact she was only doing her job in admonishing Jamie, but that's another factor that has to be upturned as part of his "Food Revolution." Hamburgers, fries and breaded, ground chicken sandwiches qualify as nutritious lunches while an entire fresh salad bar goes virutally untouched and a nutrional lunch of teriyaki chicken with stir-fried noodles and seven fresh vegetables doesn't meet the standard because it doesn't fit the compartments of a lunch-tray. Incredible.

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That blew me away too, David. The fact that according to the official guidelines, the burger and fries is a "healthier" option than Jamie's fresh veg & noodles with teriyaki chicken. But again, the guidelines are a joke, based more on lobbying and politics than anything even remotely health related. Have you guys ever looked at how many servings of everything we should be eating a day according to government guidelines? I eat too much as it is, but there is no way I could ingest the quantity required to meet them.

The woman who was overseeing Jamie's meal was saying he had to include 1-1/4 cups of vegetables, in addition to the other required components. I don't recall if she clarified what else had to be on the plate, but we know that at the elementary school he had to have 2 servings of bread per plate. That's a lot of food! No wonder there's so much waste.

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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What killed me was that the fries are considered a vegetable. I know potatos are vegetables, but I think they lose any benefit after being chopped, par-boiled, frozen, reheated and served as a french fry. What I think made Jaime really mad after hearing that french fries satisfy the vegetable requirement is that, according to the National Health Service (which looks to be the UK equivalent of our USDA, or something similar) potatos aren't even included in their list of vegetables acceptable for "5 servings per day" because their main component is starch. They are listed with the other starchy foods, as are yams, plantains and cassava.

edited to fix poor word choice and usage..

Edited by Shamanjoe (log)

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I've been following this thread for the last week or so, so let me delurk and put some context on the content you've been watching. I'll preface this by saying that in a past life in the past century I was the Director of Food Service for 3 K-12 school districts in the State of California and an Area Manager for fourth. I left that segment of the industry when it became abundantly clear to me that I, alone, could not make a difference. It did, however, give me an insight and perspective that most of America doesn't have :wink: So let me fill in some of the blanks.

A bit of history first...

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was established in 1947 as a result of the large number of men who had been ineligible for military service during WWII. Many were disqualified from service as the result of medical or health problems that occured during the Great Depression when food and good nutrition were a problem. For the first 20+ years of the program it was administrated by the Department of Defense. Richard Nixon folded NSLP into the existing Child Nutrition programs in the late 60s and moved administration of the program to the USDA.

The original meal pattern established by the DoD was:

2 oz Meat/Meat Alternate

1 bread serving

3/8 Cup each of fruit and vegetable

8 fluid ounces of milk

Pretty simple and straightforward. This remained unchanged for 50 years. It has changed in the last 10 years.

Once the USDA assumed responsibility for NSLP the program began changing. It is no longer a program focused on feeding children as much as it is an agricultural support program designed to remove excess farm production from the markets and stablize farm prices (both small and large farms benefit from this). The excess farm goods are converted to USDA Commodities which are distributed to government supported feeding programs such as those in Child Nutrition and the military.

I've read a lot of posts over the years where people speak dispargingly about USDA Commodities as being of poor quality and no use. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most USDA Commodities I received were usually decent to very good in quality. Additionally, they are a godsend for economic reasons. Depending upon what it is, a case of USDA Commodity product usually costs either $1 or $2 (I've been out of school lunch for 10+ years, it could be a little higher now). Do a quick comparison with what the same item costs through normal distribution. A case of commodity tater tots (most likely processed by McCain or Lamb-Weston)is $2. Last week I purchased a case of private lable (though processed by Lamb-Weston) tater barrels from Sysco San Diego that costs $23.25. No school district could afford to pay full price for those tater tots. A 40# case of hamburger meat is $2, the same case of meat through Sysco SD would be around $65-70. The USDA Commodity program provides decent quality products to programs that could not afford to exist without it.

The observation that the agriculture lobbies in Washington D.C. are powerful is right on target. The dairy and beef are two of the largest and most powerful and both have had an impact on NSLP. The issue with dairy is in getting butterfat off the market, not milk. USDA butter was pretty decent, as were the blocks of cheddar and non-fat dried milk solids (which went into baked goods). Up until the late 80s schools were required to serve whole milk rather than low fat or fat free, it's that butter fact thing again. Most of us got around it by keeping 1 carton of whole milk on hand and serving low fat and fat free milk, including a fat free chocolate.

However, there's a bigger issue. Receiving commodities goods in bulk was fine when schools had the space, staff and equipment to deal with them. The elementary school in Jamie's show had 5 employees and a full, very well equipped kitchen. I was absolutely floored Friday night at the size of the H.S. kitchen. No school in any school district in which I have worked even came close to that, in fact it's bigger than any of the college kitchens I've worked in or managed and it was bigger than the central kitchen I had in one district! Hang on to the thread about USDA Commodities, I'll get back to that in a minute, but first, let me get you all up to speed on the reality of school food service employment

1. Most school food service employees are union members receiving full benefits

2. Since full benefits are costly, districts have began reducing that cost by reducing assigned hours. If a person works less than 4 hours, the district doesn't have to pay benefits. As a result, many school food service programs now employee far more employees that work 2 - 3.75 hours a day than they do 6-8 hour employees.

3. We've managed to raise 3 generatiosn of Americans now who have virtually no, or poor, cooking skills (let alone knowing where they'r food comnes from). Those 2 - 3.75 hour employees fall into that category,so do many of the longer hour employees. In 4 school districts, and close to 800 employees, I had probably less than 5 who had had any actual culinary training, and probably less than 10 who had had previous food service experience. Nice ladies, but pretty unskilled labor. I did appreciate that Friday's episode made the point substantial and systemic retraining of the staff was needed...at a cost of $80,000. That a real, very real problem.

4. Even though most school food service employees make more than minimum wage, most of the women that worked in school kitchens in the 50s and 60s doing scratch cooking and baking did make minimum wage, most women today couldn't afford to do that. Additionally, school lunch staffing for much of the 60s and 70s were neighborhood moms who wanted to work while their kids were in school but still be home after school for their kids. That's not a model that works these days.

So back to those commodities. With an unskilled pool of short hour employees and rising costs, it became impractical for many school districts to continue to receive and make adequate use of bulk USDA commodities. Enter the commodity processing program where commodities are diverted to processors and manufacturers and converted into more easily usable end products. Processors were required to provide the USDA with "price and yield" sheets showing how much of the meal pattern requirements each serving of the finished product would meet. At first the commodities came to the district and were then shipped to the manufacturer. Now, they are just diverted directly to the manufacturer and the schools only see the end products. This simplified alot of things, but the end result is what you are seeing on Jamie's show. What you don't know is just how manipulated that food really is.

That chicken pattie sandwich and fries? The chicken pattie will provide the 2 oz of Meat/Meat Alternate. The breading on the chicken and the bun will provide the 2 bread servings required by the USDA for high school programs. Why 2 servings? Because the bread and bread products are highly fortified. Process the food to remove the nutrients then add them back by fortifying. Doesn't make sense, but that's why. Somewhere someone did a study that showed H.S. age kids were deficient in a range of nutrients that are normally found in bread and bread products so the USDA raised the requirement for NSLP and the manufacturers follwed suit. Add the fries and you've actually got a reimburseable meal. You see, there's also something called "offer vs. serve". You have to offer all 5 components, but as long as the students take at least 3, you can claim it as a reimbursable meal. Virtually all hot dogs and "cold cuts" are actually turkey based. Turkey corn dogs, turn ham, turkey bologna, an so forth. That pizza you see? made from commodity flour, tomato paste, cheese and, if it's got pepperoni or sausage, commodity pork. Case cost? mid $20 with commodities. Without commodities? mid $50s

So let's take a look at that reimbursement. The reimbursement for a free lunch is (I think) about $2.17 and probably around a dollar +/- for the reduced price meal. On that, a school lunch program has to pay for all other food that isn't commodity, make payroll, pay for any equipment repairs and any other overhead (like custodial services) that the district cares to tact on (some States have now passed laws prohibiting school districts from charging their own food service programs overhead fees). There is one thing I can guarantee you every food service direction is hearing right now and that is "thou shalt not infringe on the general fund" because any bills the food service program can't cover have to be paid for by the district via the general fund. And if the general fund has to pay, that's less that can be spent in the classroom.

NSLP is also one of the most over regulated programs on the face of the Earth. Families must apply each and every year for free or reduced status. Every October the food service department must verify that a certain number (usually around 3%) of the eligible families really are. That entails collecting and evaluating income data from the randomly selected families. It can run to several thousand families in big districts. God forbid someone who isn't eligible recieves a meal to which they aren't entitled. Then there is the whole bit about qualifying meals. Schools are required to offer enough food to cover all the students that eat on any given day. If there are 100 kids eating, you have to be able to prove you had enough food for 100 people in all components. Menu production worksheets are the bible as they are your record of what you made. They show how much you prepped, how much you served, if you had leftovers and what happened to those leftovers. Sounds great until you know you have to use the USDA yield book that shows what the yield is on any given product and how much it takes to make a minimum contribution to the meal plan. You realy do have to be a rocket scientist to figure these things out. In 14 years, I never did, luckily I had "people" that knew how to do them. But not to worry, the manufacturers have ridden to the rescue with CN labeling and the USDA accepts a CN label with virtually no questions asked.

So yeah, I agree, Jamie's pasta dish had 7 vegetables in it. So what, those 7 vegetables didn't add up to 3/4 cup (1 H.S. veg serving, therefore, it won't qualify for reimbursement. It looked good and probably tasted even better. But even I, sitting at home in front of the TV could tell it was short a veg serving. These program ARE audited on a regular and on-going basis. If you fail any part of the audit, you have to submit and implement a corrective action plan. If Wall Street was subjected to the same oversight and scrutiny that this Child Nutrition program is, it wouldn't have melted down.

I am 100% in Jamie's corner. The school lunch program is broken and it will take the critical mass of a lot of people saying this isn't right and demanding change. Nowhere in the Child Nutrition Act is there any requirement for nutritiona education. In my years as a Director I never saw, nor was I asked about nutrition education curriculum. It was, however, a topic of concern and discussion among my peers, we saw the need but no one listened. Today's parent can't shoulder this burden by themselves because most likely they didn't receive much in the way of nutrition education either.

School meal programs are current up for reauthorization and are being actively discussed by Congress. If you're concerned, outraged or simply want to see change, write to your local representative and state senators. Demand systemic change in the way the program is administered and operated. Demand training, demand nutrition education, but let your elected officials know that how we're treating our youth of American with the existing program isn't acceptable to you.

This post is way too long an dthere is way more that I can post. I'll leave it at this. Everyone have a great day and make your voice heard.

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Kalypso that was fantastic – thanks so much for sharing what you know. Most is exactly what I suspected but it's still shocking to see it all spelled out like that.

Thanks, it's actually worse than what I posted. That was the short, abridged version.

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If the meal programs are that screwed up, I can't imagine the other facets of government. I would really like to see this changed, and thanks to Jaime for at least getting a glimpse of it out there. Hopefully more people are intelligent enough to at least see there is a problem.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Thank you kalypso for adding your perspective and experience. I'm hoping that Jamie is reading our discussion.

This got me thinking even more about my experience when I was a kid, and while it was 40 years ago when I was in elementary school, I often think that the way we ate back then was so much more healthy than the way the kids eat in schools today.

We had a choice to eat either the hot lunch prepared in the kitchen at the school or to take lunch from home. I didn't eat the hot lunch much because in all honesty my parents couldn't really afford it. Looking back on it now, I got teased for being a kid who couldn't afford a real lunch and carrying a Roy Roger's lunch pail into the cafeteria. But when I think about it today, I was probably eating a pretty healthy lunch. My Mother would always pack a fresh, healthy sandwich, fresh fruit, vegetables and the only small item we'd call "unhealthy" today would be a homemade sweet of some type like a piece of pie, cake or a cookie.

Of course, I lived in a time before "Lunchables" and bottled, flavored, "power" waters were invented. Today many people wouldn't want to spend the time it takes, which is really only a few minutes, to make a decent sandwich and to put it in a brown paper bag to take to school. If you care about yourself and your kids I'd take the time. Get off the cell phone and stop texting and make a decent sandwich and put an apple in a bag.

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This got me thinking even more about my experience when I was a kid, and while it was 40 years ago when I was in elementary school, I often think that the way we ate back then was so much more healthy than the way the kids eat in schools today.

David, I was only in elementary school 20 years ago, but I don't remember what we were eating in the cafeteria. My mom packed my lunch every day (even if it was Lunchables every once in a while).

I do remember lunch in high school though. Only the "poor" kids who were getting free or discounted lunches ever ate the cafeteria meals. The rest of us usually ate from the school's "Snack Shack" which sold soda by the giant styrofoam cup for $0.60, and had packages of Little Ceasar's crazy bread every Wednesday for a $1 and KFC chicken for $2.50 on Thursdays. I never saw anything resembling a healthy lunch in the hands of my classmates and personally never saw the inside of our school cafeteria. In my group of friends, half of us brought lunch, and the other half bought from the snack shack. Only the home lunches were close to being healthy. Even then, we had Lunchables, pudding cups, etc.

I really hope people watching this show start to realise how their kids actually eat at school. Even with a lunch brought from home, we were still eating a bag of crazy bread each once a week. I look back at it now and it's just ridiculous.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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David, the Free/Reduced Price lunch has always been available. In fact, one of the requirments of the program is that there can be no "overt identification" of any child receiving a Free or Reduced meal. It wasn't well advertised or well known that meal were subsidized back when you were in grade school. Also, I think there was a lot more sensitivity to being perceived as "poor" that doesn't exist much any more. This would have been in the pre-"Great Society" and public assistance days.

I was in elementary school 40+ years ago too (yikes!); I rarely bought lunch in the cafeteria...mostly because the lunch ladies were a pretty scary bunch. I brought lunch most of the time as did most of my peers, classmates and friends. And, we all pretty much had the same thing, a sandwich, a little bag of chips, a piece of fruit and a sweet of some sort, anything from a cookie to a Twinkie (which no one considered "bad for you" back then.)

There were a number of studies done in the late 80s to mid-90s comparing a Free/Reduced lunch to a home-packed lunch. What the studies showed was that home packed lunches were no more nutritious than those purchased at school; in many cases the school lunch contained less fat, sodium and sugar. Most home packed lunches were high in carbs and sguar (think Capri Sun and juice boxes) and light on the protein and fruit/veg. I think given the increase in nutrition awareness over the last 15 years and the continued deterioration of the school lunch programs this result has probably changed.

There are also social factors to consider

  1. 1. Most mothers in the 50s and 60s stayed home and were not part of the work force. They had time in the morning to pack lunches
  2. 2. People did not routine eat out more meals than they ate at home, so there wasn't much of a tradition for eating in the cafeteria.

  1. 3. Time was not so much a factor. We were not over programmed as children, nor were out parents as harried, stressed, or overworked. i.e. time wasn't booked for 23 hours and 59 minutes a day
  2. 4. Lifestyles have changed dramatically in 50 years.
  3. 5. We exercised, outside even. Today, PE has been eliminated (along with HomeEc) in some schools and not all schools have playgrounds or are not safe enough for kids to play outside (think drive-by shootings, and child abduction)
  4. 6. Not all children live in functional families. Many children are living with parents who are unable to care from themselves let alone a child (or children).
  5. 7. Families with substance abuse, physcial or emotional abuse or violence are much more common

    1. 8. A lot of people don't know how to cook, or perceive it as time consuming and have trouble constructing menus
    2. 9. There has been very little nutrition education, our mothers knew more about it than many people do today.



      We all tend to have idylic memories of how school was in the 60s, it's quite different now. Back in 1982 when I took my first job in school food service as an Area Manager, the Director sent me out to one of the largest elementary schools to observe and learn how things worked. The school was located on the fringes of a somewhat lower income neighborhood and had a high enrollment of kids eligible for Free/Reduced Price meals. The Cafeteria supervisor related to me something that had happened to her the previous school year. Every Monday she noticed a child coming in for Breakfast. She didn't recognize him, but he always had a ticket for a Free breakfast. She did, however, recognize and know the kid that always seemed to be with the smaller child. Finally she collared the one she knew and asked him what was going on. He admitted that it was his little (4 y.o) brother. He brought him because they were hungry. Their mother had a substance abuse problem, was rarely home, and there usually wasn't much, if any, food in the house. As he told this supervisor "I brought him because I knew you'd feed him and not ask a lot of questions". He was right, that cafeteria supervisor continued to feed the little brother for the rest of the school year, and didn't tell a soul. Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Hunger exists in the United States and is very real. It afflicts a greater percentage of women and children, especially single mothers and children in single parent households, than it does men, or children in 2-parent families. And, trust me on this, there is
nothing that will rip your heart out more than seeing hungry kids, or knowing that lunch on Friday will be the last meal they have until they show up for breakfast on Monday.
That is one of the reasons I tend to get really rabid about this topic :wacko: It is an abomination how we as Americans treat kids and what we've allowed what was once a really effective program to be gutted and co-opted by far too many special interests. Kids can't vote, ergo, they're invisible.
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David, the Free/Reduced Price lunch has always been available. In fact, one of the requirments of the program is that there can be no "overt identification" of any child receiving a Free or Reduced meal. It wasn't well advertised or well known that meal were subsidized back when you were in grade school. Also, I think there was a lot more sensitivity to being perceived as "poor" that doesn't exist much any more. This would have been in the pre-"Great Society" and public assistance days.

I was in elementary school 40+ years ago too (yikes!); I rarely bought lunch in the cafeteria...mostly because the lunch ladies were a pretty scary bunch. I brought lunch most of the time as did most of my peers, classmates and friends. And, we all pretty much had the same thing, a sandwich, a little bag of chips, a piece of fruit and a sweet of some sort, anything from a cookie to a Twinkie (which no one considered "bad for you" back then.)

There were a number of studies done in the late 80s to mid-90s comparing a Free/Reduced lunch to a home-packed lunch. What the studies showed was that home packed lunches were no more nutritious than those purchased at school; in many cases the school lunch contained less fat, sodium and sugar. Most home packed lunches were high in carbs and sguar (think Capri Sun and juice boxes) and light on the protein and fruit/veg. I think given the increase in nutrition awareness over the last 15 years and the continued deterioration of the school lunch programs this result has probably changed.

There are also social factors to consider

  1. 1. Most mothers in the 50s and 60s stayed home and were not part of the work force. They had time in the morning to pack lunches
  2. 2. People did not routine eat out more meals than they ate at home, so there wasn't much of a tradition for eating in the cafeteria.

  1. 3. Time was not so much a factor. We were not over programmed as children, nor were out parents as harried, stressed, or overworked. i.e. time wasn't booked for 23 hours and 59 minutes a day
  2. 4. Lifestyles have changed dramatically in 50 years.
  3. 5. We exercised, outside even. Today, PE has been eliminated (along with HomeEc) in some schools and not all schools have playgrounds or are not safe enough for kids to play outside (think drive-by shootings, and child abduction)
  4. 6. Not all children live in functional families. Many children are living with parents who are unable to care from themselves let alone a child (or children).
  5. 7. Families with substance abuse, physcial or emotional abuse or violence are much more common

    1. 8. A lot of people don't know how to cook, or perceive it as time consuming and have trouble constructing menus
    2. 9. There has been very little nutrition education, our mothers knew more about it than many people do today.



    3. We all tend to have idylic memories of how school was in the 60s, it's quite different now. Back in 1982 when I took my first job in school food service as an Area Manager, the Director sent me out to one of the largest elementary schools to observe and learn how things worked. The school was located on the fringes of a somewhat lower income neighborhood and had a high enrollment of kids eligible for Free/Reduced Price meals. The Cafeteria supervisor related to me something that had happened to her the previous school year. Every Monday she noticed a child coming in for Breakfast. She didn't recognize him, but he always had a ticket for a Free breakfast. She did, however, recognize and know the kid that always seemed to be with the smaller child. Finally she collared the one she knew and asked him what was going on. He admitted that it was his little (4 y.o) brother. He brought him because they were hungry. Their mother had a substance abuse problem, was rarely home, and there usually wasn't much, if any, food in the house. As he told this supervisor "I brought him because I knew you'd feed him and not ask a lot of questions". He was right, that cafeteria supervisor continued to feed the little brother for the rest of the school year, and didn't tell a soul. Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Hunger exists in the United States and is very real. It afflicts a greater percentage of women and children, especially single mothers and children in single parent households, than it does men, or children in 2-parent families. And, trust me on this, there is nothing that will rip your heart out more than seeing hungry kids, or knowing that lunch on Friday will be the last meal they have until they show up for breakfast on Monday.
      That is one of the reasons I tend to get really rabid about this topic :wacko: It is an abomination how we as Americans treat kids and what we've allowed what was once a really effective program to be gutted and co-opted by far too many special interests. Kids can't vote, ergo, they're invisible.

      So very well said and I'm glad you've entered into this discussion to give it such a valuable perspective. There has to be better solutions than what is happening today. When the alternative to a kid going hungry is at least eating something that your school provides you, (regardless of the carb/sugar/salt and nutrituional issue), that is obviously an alarming issue that has to be dealt with. Jamie has a large audience so I hope he can reach enough people to somehow start to make a difference with his Food Revolution.
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It's also one of the reasons I whole-heartedly support his efforts. The show is being discussed on various e-groups and some of them are nothing short of mean-spirited and grossly cynical. The lack of knowledge and understanding about Child Nutrition programs does surprise me, what did surprise me was the absolute arrogance, snobbiness and downright ignorance some people displayed. This has been one of the more thoughtful threads I've read on the topic.

I've read a lot of comments over the last couple of weeks about how much money Jamie and Ryan Seacrest stand to make, that it's too commercial, it's all staged, and so forth. I don't really care if he makes money from the show, I don't care if it is commercial. The point for me is that it's raising awareness of what we're eating and what it's doing to our bodies. There's been a definite disconnect along the line in the last 30-35 years for the American consumer in understanding how food production from farm to table (to use a rather overworked phrase).

As much as I actually like and admire Alice Waters and her efforts, Jamie is a better vehicle for pushing the change than she is. He lacks the elitist label she's acquired, plus his show is happening in an average, middle class city that almost everyone can relate to, not a wealth, very liberal, overly educated college town. People loved to bash Emeril Lagasse, but if nothing else he got people interested in different foods and into the kitchen to try cooking. Sometimes the hokey message (BAM, dressing up as a pea :raz: ) actually works. There was a tiny little blurb in our local paper yesterday about the show. When they went back to the elementary school recently most of the kids admitted that they didn't actually like Jamie's food, that they still perferred the processed food and fries. Participation dropped while the show was being filmed. The kids didn't like the food, so they quit buying lunch. Lower participation means lower reimbursement and less money coming into the school to cover costs. On the positive side, he did introduce the kids to many new foods and got them to try them. Probably not the success he was hoping for, but you gotta start somewhere.

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There is some hope.

Our town (Harvard, MA) has a school food program run by Paul Correnty, known locally as "Chef Paul" whose food is so good that he sells his soups at the local farmers market and now at the General Store in the center of town. He's known for including produce from local farmers in his school menus. He also collaborates with a local fish market, The Quarterdeck, run by Chris Basile, another Harvard resident (and a neighbor of mine) to host special evenings at a beautiful local museum, Fruitlands.

The most recent graduating class of seniors dedicated their yearbook to Chef Paul, for teaching them what "real" food tastes like.

We are very, very fortunate -- but it proves that kids -- and adults -- can get the message and learn healthy eating habits through a school meal program.

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