Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pizza day ain't what it used to be.

Thinking about where my food comes from is like sitting down to figure out the budget; it gives me a stomach ache, so I don’t do it very often. Thinking about what my kids are eating is even worse. I just finished Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa about school lunch programs in America, and now I'm on the lookout for 10 acres of fertile land where I can grow all of the food my family eats. 

Lunch Wars is very interesting, when I say interesting I mean there were a couple of times when I had flashbacks of reading The Jungle my sophomore year in high school and my vow to never eat hot dogs again. (What? You didn’t spend your weekends reading books about the meat packing industry for fun when you where 14? I suppose you spent your free time trying out new hairdos? Whatever.)

I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the lunches at school so it wasn’t a surprise to me that what’s offered in the cafeteria is not gourmet or highly nutritious, in fact I try to get my kids to pack a lunch as often as I can, but there were a lot of things about school lunch programs that I was not aware of, or just hadn’t thought about before. Kalafa explains in detail what our kids are being offered at school (it's worse than I thought), how those decisions are made and what we can do as parents to make changes at a local level. It’s super thorough and informative, great in a lot of ways, and a little overwhelming. Okay, really overwhelming.

In my ideal world everything having to do with school would be based on what’s best for the children. In the real world, when I send my kids to out the door in the morning it’s a crap shoot; from teachers who don’t have the tools (and often the patience) to teach effectively, social pressure from other kids who have different standards or who are just jerks, to not only having access to junk food, but actually having the school sell it to them. How do you even know where to start trying to exact changes?

I appreciate what the author is trying to do. Really. I’m glad someone has time to make a full time job of championing this cause and if you have kids who eat at school I'd recommend reading this book, if for no other reason so you can have a better understanding of what's for lunch and how the system works. For me, right now, I'll keep talking to my kids about trying to make healthy choices and keep looking for that compound in the woods where we can escape from the world and it’s additives.

*BlogHer Book Club paid me to write this review, but the opinions are all mine.

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