Parsing Bad Advice

I read food and nutrition news with a very critical ear for bad advice. Usually that bad advice is based on the bad old nutritional science of the past. The advice to limit saturated fats is still everywhere, even though the media have begun to spread the word about the truly dangerous trans fats. Yesterday the New York Times food blog trumpeted this headline:

Why Cafeteria Food Is the Best

The ‘Best’ they are referring to is best for your children, in comparison to foods they might bring from home. If the US public schools served food like the Japanese or French do there would be no argument, school lunches would be at least as good as cafeteria:

First course: Cucumber and tomato salad Main course: Veal marinated with mushrooms, broccoli, cheese Dessert: Apple tart

First course: Cucumber and tomato salad
Main course: Veal marinated with mushrooms, broccoli, cheese
Dessert: Apple tart

Unfortunately, the foods that we Americans send in brown bags with our kids are the foods that we eat at home, which makes them even worse than school cafeteria foods, nutritionally.

Packed lunches … contained more desserts, chips and sweetened nondairy drinks, none of which can be served by schools that participate in the federal program. “About 90 percent of lunches from home contained desserts, snack chips, and sweetened beverages,” the study found.

This sounds like your typical ‘low-fat, high-carb’ meal on the run kind of food that is making us all sick and fat.

“If you only expose children to chicken nuggets and French fries, that’s what they’ll like to eat,” Dr. Baidal said. “Schools can help by giving foods creative names and presenting them in fun ways. Food service personnel can prompt children to try different foods when they come through the line.”

Or….we could feed them what we want them to eat without regard for what they ‘like’ or ‘want’. When I was a little boy I wanted candy, ice cream and soda pop. I almost never got any of it. When I went through the lunch line they put a half pint of milk and whatever was for lunch on my tray. Sometimes I didn’t eat it all because I was just a little kid, but never because it wasn’t what I wanted. There were lunch foods I liked and some that I didn’t. I never got a choice until high school about what I would be eating for lunch. It could still be that way and the kids would not know the difference. They are kids, they need to be told what to do for many years. Letting them pick is a very bad idea.

The bad advice that I hear reading this article is “Don’t send lunch from home.” Good advice would be what to eat at home that won’t be bad for your kids if they brought it to school. Bad advice is eat low-fat. Here is a good lunch to send your kids to school with, “One piece of whole fruit (apple, orange, banana), a peanut butter and butter sandwich (don’t turn up your nose, try it) a carrot cut into matchsticks.” If the peanut butter is made at home, with love by you, all the better. That brown bag lunch has no artificial sweeteners, no processed sugar (if you make your own PB) and only good natural fats (uncooked peanut oil and real butter). Add a glass of water or a half pint of whole milk and there is nothing wrong with it. Not as good as the French lunch in the picture, but better than a processed food lunch from home or a cafeteria lunch from school, like this typical one…

Nachos, fries and candied milk

Nachos, fries and candied milk

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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