Can’t we all agree that children should be offered real, whole food?

5 Dec

It is sobering, to come across articles like this one about the state of school lunch, published in the NY Times this week and written by Lucy Komisar, an investigative reporter and author, who received support from the Investigative Fund, a project of the Nation Institute, for the reporting of this topic.

The companies who hold most of the contracts for supplying school’s their food, work closely with food manufacturer’s that profit greatly when whole foods are turned into processed foods like chicken nuggets, fruit pastries and french fries. This year, the federal government proposed new rules that would set calorie limits on meals served to school children, as well as set guidelines for requiring fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. With current statistics stating that one-third of children ages 6-19 are obese in this country – who could argue that this isn’t a good idea?

The same companies who are currently benefitting from serving our nations children unhealthy food. The argument? That food will go to waste because children won’t want to eat healthier food. Their lobbying was successful, and a few tablespoons of tomato sauce on a pizza, continues to count as a vegetable.

This is really adding insult to injury. It is true that if your child eats mostly processed foods, making the switch to cleaner, simpler whole foods may take some time and effort. However, once you are able to clear the palate of the dichotomy of salt and sweet that most processed foods are limited to, and you offer delicious from-scratch cooking, it goes well. It is not as though the alternative to processed food is bland and boring food. Cooking is an art, one that sadly has been lost for a while in much of this country, but that is definitely making a comeback, even with young children! Our after-school cooking classes grow every season, and we know we are not alone in our efforts and successes.

At Butter Beans, we see children expand their palate and get excited about food, on a daily basis. Including students in the conversation about their lunch (we host school food committees made up of student representatives), about where our food comes from and how it is made, is empowering and shows us how much they actually care. Our schools are where our children go to learn about all things that our culture deem important. Eating well, for the benefit of our own health, for the health of our communities and our planet should not be in question.

Change is possible, at every turn.

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