Sunday, February 22, 2009

No More Junk Lunch

Several months ago, I linked to a long article suggesting massive changes in U.S. food policy. The basic idea is to shift subsidies from high-calorie, agribusiness-grown food products to healthier, locally grown food. (Of course, the agribusiness will follow the money and start competing to grow healthier food, but that's a benefit, not a detriment.) Some things would become more expensive: soda (corn syrup), meat (raised on cheap feed), and unfortunately, my daily cornflakes and my wife's daily soymilk. But the overall impact would be to make it easier to eat healthy.

A new NYTimes op-ed argues along the same lines, focusing on the School Lunch programs. I have to say, I really like the idea. Several months ago I prepared and served food for a senior citizen lunch. We made a hotdish of chicken, cheese, and potatoes that was very cheap (probably because of subsidies: corn feed for the chicken and the cow, soybean oil holding the hash browns together). Meanwhile, in the same kitchen at the community center, two women were cooking lunch for the kids in a Head Start program. They were roasting meat, making rice, preparing vegetables. They were creating actual meals. They had actual skills.

To get all pretentious, the food they were making was more humanizing, both to them and to the kids they would serve it to. Now, I love hotdish as much as the next Minnesotan. But wouldn't it be great if our schools at least, if not the culture as a whole, could take a few steps toward actual meals?

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