With the dominant health status of our country, let alone children, the USDA, for the first time in more than a decade, applies new rules for the federal school lunch program. Such guidelines include:
- calorie and sodium limits
- schools must offer dark green, orange or red vegetables and legumes at least once a week
- students are required to select at least one vegetable or fruit per meal
- Flavored milk must be nonfat
- there’s a ban on artificial trans fats.
I believe the intentions are good here, and this was a nice win for Michelle Obama with her advocacy to stop childhood obesity, but I have a hard time agreeing with all of the rules. One main thing that is troublesome is the lunch time for kids. Recalling back to my youth, some people had their lunch period as early as 10:45am where others longed for some food up to 1:15pm (starting class before 8am). How is a calorie restriction going to help when students are famished by the time they get to the lunch table?
Furthermore, when the food options are right, it is hard to overeat. And by “right” I do not mean corn is a vegetable as categorized by the USDA. Most corn in the US is genetically modified (73%) and can be destructive to our GI tract let alone our immune system. Like most things, there is room for constructive feedback, and again while the intentions are right, the lunch offerings just needs more whole, natural food without processing and cooking in seed oils, including canola oil.
Gosh, I am now wondering why I decided to write about this – I might get in trouble for what I want to say about milk and the grain recommendations…
Overall, the obesity concerns are taking notice and actions are being taken to help reduce the epidemic. Beyond the lunch room we all can make better choices for our health, our family’s health and our environment. Buy locally, growing your own things, even if it is just herbs, will help lower the carbon footprint.
When we are fueled the right way, with the right foods, we are our best person. Good on the USDA putting in the effort and hopefully soon enough the will put forth some rules that are as simple as one of Michael Pollan’s best quotes, “Eat food, most vegetables, not too much.”
What are your thoughts on this new view from the lunch queue?