Lucky Mom

Sep. 22, 2006

Book Review: Lunch Lessons

If only every parent could subscribe to what author Ann Cooper and and Lisa Holmes are desperately trying to convey in Lunch Lessons, maybe we wouldn’t have a society of such obese children, sadly becoming obese adults.

Lunch Lessons is not brain surgery but common sense ways to feed our children healthy food. You don’t have to grow it yourself and spend hours a day in the kitchen to provide children healthy food. I can attest to this. I can also control what my son eats when he is with me.

As Executive Chef for the Berkeley public school system, Cooper has tried various ways to get kids to eat healthy; for example by creatively offering healthy pizza to the kids. Sadly, the kids complain, the school relents and they’re back to eating junk again.

Cooper even held a school meeting with the kids to explain what exactly they are consuming when they eat crap and they don’t care. They want their crap back.

I say, if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat what’s offered. But I don't make the rules or provide the funding.

Sadly, when it comes to public school lunch programs, Cooper describes having to fight the politics of government subsidies v. junk food peddlers providing much needed corporate funding for schools.

It’s noted that the Dept. of Agriculture developed a scheme to ensure kids were getting enough calories. However, to keep fat content in the meals down, the calories were cut below minimums and therefore needed to be added back in.

Guess how? With sugar.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but everyday there’s more evidence and even a bit more that our kids are getting PLENTY of calories and not enough exercise.

I’ve read that kid’s palates are pretty much formed at a young age and are hard to expand once developed. If parents don’t care what type of crap their kids are eating, how can schools be required to provide healthy lunches? The kids won’t eat it.

Now, to step up on my own soapbox for a moment:

Now I know I have a kid who eats well and healthy. Maybe this is all luck but I also know my kid didn’t know that white bread existed until he saw it outside our home. He will eat whole grain or wheat bread and is happy because that’s all he knows. He also (at least for now, fingers crossed) thinks beans and carrots are a yummy snack, small boxes of raisins rock and hasn’t a clue what white rice is; instead favoring whole grain. Because that’s what was offered to him. I never pushed these foods, just matter of factly offered them. He doesn’t drink soda or Kool-Aid or other sugary crap because he doesn’t know what it is so he doesn’t miss it.

Off soapbox and inserting a reality clip:

I on the other hand do eat crap at times (more so during pregnancy) so I hide in the pantry and eat my white bagels or wait until Alec is not around so he won’t see me being a total hypocrite. I hide my junk food so he thinks I eat like him. Hey, it works.

So, Lunch Lessons is a good read if you are interested in your children eating well. I certainly gained some further understanding of additives in our food that can be easily avoided (e.g. rBGH or rBST in milk).

There are also some pretty simple, healthy recipes in the book that don’t require your own garden and shovel or ½ a day to prepare.

7 Comments Posted (Add Yours)

1

Great information. I've been trying to do the same with Jackson, although he is not a fan of the veggies. I am looking for creative ways to add them in to other things I prepare (notice I didn't say "cook", I don't do that). My favorite is scrambled eggs and spinach!
Now if I could only put down this bag of BBQ chips.... (-:

2

My husband and I were just talking about this today! Same thing, our 20 month old doesn't know what she's (not) missing. I too eat more crap when I'm pregnant and I hide it from her as well. lol. I'll have to check out this book.

3

I hope you don't think this is an American phenomenon. I can tell you that in my native England, the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver actually met with our prime minister because the state of our school meals was so bad!!! Believe me, it's not just the schools, alot of the blame lies with the parents. If kids are used to eating junk at home, they are not going to eat raw carrots and raisins at school. It's sad but true.

4

Karla - no, I don't think it's only in America and yes, I do think the habits are formed at home.

5

I agree 100% on this Kristine. I have a 21 year old (Katey) as you know & she does eat crap now & again, but she also knows what's in that crap & tries hard not to eat it. Now for the school lunches. It is true that the school lunches are not always the best for the kids. Working in a seattle school for 4 years, I can see what is offered & at least at the school I worked at they did try to offer healthy food. Most of the time the kids would not put the veggies on their tray or if they did they smothered it with Ranch Dressing & then end up throwing away most of the food on their tray. Believe me, eating healthy starts at home & having your child bring lunch to school would be better. Hope this helps.

6

Anna - that is why I wonder why schools are so saddled with the responsibility to provide healthy meals that the kids won't eat anyway. If parents care about what their kids are eating, why not pack a healthy lunch?

Thanks for the comment.

7

The comment about kids consuming too many calories and not getting enough physical exercise, also goes back to a previous blog regarding kids on drugs. A happiness expert (sorry his name escapes me at the moment) confirms exercise is one key factor to human happiness. If kids are eating crap, not getting enough physical exercise, it's no wonder they are having more mental/emotional issues. This, of course, applies to everyone, not just kids!