Friday, June 20, 2014

Alice Waters, Edible School Yards, & School Lunch Controversy

The recent controversy over the National School Lunch Program began with the belief that school lunches could certainly be healthier. If children were going to eat at least one meal a day for 180 days a year, then schools could certainly do better than pizza, french fries, soda, and cookies. And, there is no doubt that many school lunch offerings were atrocious in terms of nutrition, and kids were really being set up to make poor choices. Of course, young people are not going to make healthy choices just because the government tells them to, or seeks to restrict their choices to nothing but the parameters of the arbitrary federal guidelines for healthy eating.  The key to improving the health of young people through diets is to "cultivate" an appreciation for healthy eating.

Now, as schools and the association for school nutritionists push back against the restrictions on calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, Alice Waters - one of the premier voices in healthy eating and the Farm-to-Table movement - is responding with a passionate plea for schools to buy in, rather than opt out. Ms. Water, whose Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse is holy ground for foodies devoted to fresh, natural, organic meals, became committed to the importance of school lunches years ago. She sees an appreciation for foods and cooking as paramount to our survival as human beings.

One of the most important parts of Alice Waters message - at least to me - is when she explains, "I don't want to tell kids what to eat. I want to win them over."

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