Posts tagged ‘school’

School Lunches, continued

Some of you may recall the School Lunch Links post I made on April 1.  The gist of it is that school lunch offerings in this country are pretty awful and there’s legislation being worked on right now to change that.

Honestly, I’d kind of forgotten about it (something about trying to finish out the school year and plan my wedding at the same time…), but there is still stuff happening!

Christie left me a comment on that post today:

Completely agree! That is why I’m pushing people to sign the Child Nutrition Act reauthorizaation petition which asks Congress to remove junk food from schools. If you haven’t already, please sign! I’ve also created a Facebook group for it.

Well, you heard her.  If you support the Child Nutrition Act, click the above link, sign the petition and get involved in improving the food provided to our youth.

June 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm

‘Food Snob’ Quiz and Other Good News

I very much enjoyed taking the “Holier than Chow” quiz from Time Out New York.

Your Score: 55
You’re a Discerning Diner. You know what you like and it often includes gussied-up grub. But you’re just as happy scarfing a Papaya Dog any day of the week.

Really? I think I may be a bit more of a snob than that, but…quizzes are quizzes (therefore I must take them!)

In other news, the highlight of my day (week, month, year?) was that Mark Bittman (@bittman) retweeted my “Vegetarianism: an Eating Disorder” blog post, and its up to 243 views! Thanks to all those who are reading!  I realize this blog has been evolving, and I appreciate your readership.  And some day, I may stop talking about Mark Bittman so much.  Maybe.

Also exciting: the fact that I’ll be sharing my vegetarian lunch of the week, Sage-Mushroom Barley modified from The Flexitarian Diet, with one of the teachers at school tomorrow, since she’s vegetarian and I made way too much (what else is new?).  It’ll be nice to share with a vegetarian, instead of my parents who are still perplexed by this change in my eating habits.

April 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm

School Lunch Links

Mark Bittman tweeted this great link this morning regarding school lunches.  I completely agree with Gehry Oatey’s post, especially this line:

Tellingly, I rarely see any teachers eating the school lunch. Seems strange that this needs to be said, but if it’s not good enough for us, why do we give it to our students? This isn’t just about a stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s about social justice.

As I mentioned before, the school lunch issue is a big one. I suspect that no educator reading the “Teacher, Revised” blog post would be surprised by its content (at least, I’m not), but it’s refreshing to see someone outside of education who has lots of “foodie” connections making themselves aware of the issue and sharing it on Twitter.  The accompanying class blog, 510 Eats Well, features student comments and insight–why are we feeding our students so poorly? What sort of message and model does it give students when we feed them junk? I think Oatey is genius–way to involve students in the process of creating change to benefit them!

The blog mentions legislation proposed late last year, but I used THOMAS to see what else what happening on the school lunch front. The most exciting result was the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009.  We need to “amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966”? You think?! 1966?!  The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Add to my to do list: Compose a letter to the Committee members, further educate myself on this issue

April 1, 2009 at 9:08 am 2 comments

On Food, Fads, Teaching and Twitter

Food and Fads: When I started this blog, I just wanted to write and share with the world my thoughts on “stuff”.  A week later I got the inspiration to write about food, it made sense: I was watching ridiculous amounts of Food Network television, beginning to cook for myself and was reading lots of inspiring food blogs.  I like food.

It’s a bit surprising to find myself, three months later, a disciple of the current big “food fad.” (which is to say, “the thing everyone is talking about,” not “the thing that’s not going to last”)   It’s really strange, because I usually work hard to buck trends. I still haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings movies or read the Twilight books primarily because everyone else has.  I just like to be contrary.  But it suddenly seems like I’m running into vegetarians all over the place and everyone is talking about flexitarianism and here I am, ranting and raving about not eating meat (though I still do) and cooking food with barley and beans and wondering how on earth that happened.  It’s just so unlike me.  I used to eat so much junk and now I’ve changed my habits dramatically.  Its like I don’t recognize myself.  Part of me wonders if one day soon I’ll wake up and go back to eating roast beef sandwiches and candy bars for lunch.

:Teaching and Twitter…

March 12, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Follow Up 2: School Lunches/Trader Joes “commerical”

I posted some of my thoughts on the current school lunches discussion last week.  Meanwhile, the discussion rages on in the blogging world and I’m finally catching up with it.  (I have way too many subscriptions in my RSS reader)

Timing is everything and it appears that Alice Waters just came out with a new book in December highlighting her views: Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea.   Esther Sung on Epicurious gives it a glowing review.  I’ll add Edible Schoolyard it to the bottom of my very long reading list.  At the moment, I think I’m too cynical to handle it, plus I’ve already got a million other books to read.  But if you’ve read it, let me know how it is.

Meanwhile, the folks at The Internet Food Association have been going back and forth about whether The Pretentious is the Enemy of the Good (how can we easily and simply achieve our goals?),  The Problem of Pretension (what is the goal of all this proposed change, anyway?), and, my favorite, Of Pragmatism, Pretension and $5 School Lunches.  Therein Sara Mead seems to compromise the ideas of the other posts and notes that  “Any scalable solution to this problem (and to have impact it has to be scalable) must involve a combination of both some of the things Ezra and Waters want (more fresh fruits and vegetables, more intensive and local-level preparation of food) and more creative use of mass produced and prepackaged foods that both are healthy AND appealing to kids.”  Right on.  I also much appreciate her separating the fact that schools need to provide students with healthy lunches (a la Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs) and the need to educate students about healthy eating.  Sara is right: schools are asked to do an awful lot these days and as an educator, I’m not sure most of us are up for teaching cooking classes as well.

At any rate, the debate rages on and I’m still not settled on what I think.  There’s a lot of variables: How much will this really cost?  Is the food actually going to be local and organic (and is that good or bad)?  Who is going to make these decisions–local schools, states, federal government?  We’ll see.

Finally, as much as I think something (but I’m still not sure what) should be done about school lunches,  is  it possible to take it too far and cause children to become overly anxious, as this NY Times article about overly cautious parents suggests?

If all this debate is wearing you out, watch this unofficial “commercial” for Trader Joe’s.  It made me smile.

February 27, 2009 at 10:16 pm

On Alice Waters and School Lunches

When I began this blog, part of the intent was to learn more about food and the current issues surrounding it and develop my own opinions and use those opinions to influence my cooking and lifestyle.  All that said, Relishments has largely degraded into a demonstration of how many ways there are to use oil, garlic, herbs and canned tomatoes to make lunch (which I did once again today, though I’ll spare you a post). It’s becoming apparent to me that I really need to look into this issue and develop a stance, both as someone who loves food, and as a teacher.

On February 19, Alice Waters and Katrina Heron published an op-ed piece in the NY Times called No Lunch Left Behind.  They make a lot of good points, but as a high school educator, I don’t think their plan is going to have all the “magical” consequences they’re hoping for.  I do agree that “without healthy food (and cooks and kitchens to prepare it), increased financing [of the current school lunch program] will only create a larger junk-food distribution system,” but I’m unsure if there’s enough locally grown, untreated, unfertilized, fresh foods to supply every child in America with the perfect lunch every day, as Waters and Heron envision.

The column also argues that healthy meals could be created for $5, but that does not include the “one-time investment in real kitchens”, providing students with the education they recommend or new training for cooking staff.  I suspect a tab of far more than $27 billion dollars would result, especially in the first few years.  I’m also not sure that the long term benefits and savings would be as far-reaching as Waters and Heron hope (though I’d love if they were right).  I think school lunch programs can only do so much.  The real issue is frequently at home; even if children are educated about good eating habits and given good food at lunch (which may or may not actually taste good), I believe that youth are more influenced by what they see and experience at home than at school; yes, “…parents should be able to rely on the government to contribute to their children’s physical well-being”, but the keyword is contribute.

Finally, I love Ezra Klein’s commentary on The Internet Food Association: “There are things we should do because they should be done. We’re the richest nation in the world. We can do better than feeding our children inventively presented corn syrup fresh from the microwave.”  As much as I can be suspicious of Waters and Heron’s proposal, I’m sure that there are improvements that can and should be made to the school lunch program.  Changing school lunches is not going to revolutionize American health, as the column seems to envision, but there’s no reason why America shouldn’t make changes where we’re able.

See also:

Mouthing Off, from Food and Wine

Alice Waters Proposes New School Lunch Program, from Serious Eats

Anthony Bourdain on Alice Waters, from The Food Section

Alice Waters’s Open Letter to the Obamas, from Gourmet

Alice Waters on Wikipedia

February 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm 3 comments

Baking, Take 2

img_0334 img_0337 img_0339

Despite last week’s baking near-miss, I gave it another shot this week.  If my students will eat half-cooked brownies, there’s probably not much I can do wrong.  Generally speaking, I don’t think baking is my thing; I’m not really into eating baked goods, so spending lots of time making them doesn’t make tons of sense to me.  But I feel like its a skill I should hone and I suspect high schoolers aren’t too into vegetarian pasta dishes as an after school snack.  I may as well practice on people who will enjoy whatever I create.

Once again, I got my weekly ego boost.  I could really get used to this.  I made really simple white cupcakes from my mother’s old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and it was really easy and went really well!  I did “cheat” and use canned frosting, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.  At least someone is raving about my food (I know high school boys eat anything…but they don’t always dish out compliments!)

In summary:  I can bake after all–from scratch even!  If I can do it, you can do it.  And I’m making cookies for our next meeting.

February 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Why I Love My Students

Confession: Last week I promised the after school debate club which I advise that I would bring snacks to our meetings in return for their attention and focus.  This was based on selfish reasons (in addition to the obvious one that I wanted their attention and focus).

I’m not a fan of cooking for myself; I like to have an audience for my food, even if they just taste it.  How could I resist a captive audience to try out my snacks and desserts?  So, the deal was struck.

I wasn’t feeling terribly creative on Sunday afternoon, plus I didn’t want to scare away any of the students  with a snack that was too different.  So I decided to bake up a box of brownies, with the assumption that even I could manage a box of brownies. Wrong.  When I cut them after cooking  they were kind of undercooked.  Oops.  So, feeling like a failure, I cut the brownies from around the edge of the pan and brought them to school, hoping the kids wouldn’t notice or care.

I presented the brownies to the students at the start of the meeting without comment regarding their degree of  “cookedness” and crossed my fingers.  Immediately, a couple girls commented “Oo, they stick together!”  “That’s a good thing?” I inquired.  “Yes!  Brownies should never be cooked all the way!  I always under cook them!”  No one voiced any opposition to this notion (and these are debate club kids–they live to argue.)

Whether or not you agree with the rationale (or safety) of sixteen year old girls is irrelevant.  They made my day.  Now its just a matter of coming up with something equally tasty for next week.

February 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm 1 comment

Lunchtime Revelation

Some days I feel better about my eating and cooking (and this blog) than others.  I’ve made some good meals over the past month with no real failures.  I’m much more comfortable in the kitchen and plan to continue improving my skills.

At the same time, I’m still torn about the purpose and function of this blog.  My most popular posts are ones discussing television shows, which puts me in an awkward place.  Do I just post about television, and “give an over generalized recount of events on a given television show,” as one commenter phrased it?  It’s clear  from my stat reports that is what gets my visitor count up.  Only one of my top 8 viewed posts isn’t connected to a show.  So, should I spend more time in the kitchen, creating and sharing the results, even though no one’s going to read it?  What’s the point of keeping a blog if no one’s going to read it?  It’s a difficult situation.

All that said, I’m obviously running out of steam in the kitchen.  This morning there was nothing of interest to bring for lunch, so I grabbed a frozen burrito on my way out the door.  Sitting down to lunch in the teacher’s room, another teacher commented, “Do you actually like those, or was there just nothing else in your house?”  And it made me think–I mean, they’re certainly edible but they’re definitely not good for you and obviously not vegetarian.  I can eat better than this and I should be eating better than this.  It isn’t that hard to make something decent to bring to school; I just have to be intentional about it.

I’ll be stopping at the supermarket on the way home to remedy this travesty.  No more frozen burritos.

January 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm 1 comment

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