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More Than Just Fat and Skinny

on March 23, 2012

This past week we’ve been talking about the “food revolution” in the United States. It’s sweeping the nation everywhere we look. The aspect that I have found particularly interesting is the investment we have made in teaching young people about nutrition. First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her project to improve the health of children by teaching them to eat healthier and exercise. I think this is a really good cause and I support this idea fully. What I’m not sure about though, is the food revolution’s practicality in general.

Obviously, there is an obesity epidemic happening right now. The U.S. is the fattest country in the world. The rest of the world sees us (and criticizes us) for the fact that we have people who are as wide as they are tall. Jamie Oliver, a British chef, has furthered the revolution buzz with his series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. On the show, Jamie comes to America schools to tell them all of the horrible things they are doing to their children by feeding them unhealthy food. Although there is a response—mostly defensive and angry people who want him to leave them alone—I don’t think it’s the response he’s looking for.

But I’m not really sure his way of doing school lunch would accomplish all that much. I know for me at least, I want the ability to choose a piece of fruit and/or a bag of chips. But you know what? Sometimes I just want the chips. I should be able to do that without having the school tell me I can’t. Yes, we need better options in the schools, but honestly, I think our food from elementary all the way through high school was really good. I don’t really remember middle school food, but in high school we had a soup and salad option, two hot meal options, and a cold sandwich option. Pizza, soft pretzels, ice cream, chips, and a ton of drink options were also available. Yes, I know people who ate pizza and ice cream literally every single day. But I think that by the time you’re in high school, you should be able to pick what kind of food you’re going to eat. I realize that institutionalized school lunches might not be the healthiest food but if it fills me up and lets me continue on for the rest of my day, I’m ok with it. I realize that my socio-economic position has an impact on my opinion, because I know I can just go home and have as many fruits and veggies as I want or I can pack healthy foods for lunch every day. But I still think schools need to just offer regular foods that they know kids will eat.

If schools want to incorporate a healthier or organic meal option, I really like the idea of having a garden on campus that the kids help grow. The only issue with that is we don’t live in California. We live in Pennsylvania. It gets cold in October. What happens to the home grown food when its winter? There are some logistic issues in that plan, but I think it could get done. I’m just not sure anyone would put 10 years of effort into changing the system like they did in Berkeley. And I’m pretty sure the administration wouldn’t be all that supportive. Ah, and there’s the problem…

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