Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lunches

Please excuse this totally off-topic rant on school lunches. I've been in an argument (in another forum) about school lunches. The person I'm debating (hereafter referred to as Jennifer) said the following:
"The school is supposed to give the kids a healthy lunch. So what that
there's fact and sugar or chemicals. It's food. We're a working
class family that can't afford to fix a good lunch for the two dollars I give
the kids for school lunch. The kids wouldn't eat fruits and veggies anyway. When am I supposed to make these lunches? I work. Besides that it's not my responsibility to go out of my way to make lunches that the school must give by law."


OK. I have a huge problem with this. Here's my response:
"Jennifer,
Here's a newsflash - we're a "working class family", too. Have you
even read the guidelines for what constitutes a healthy lunch in this
country? It's laughable. I'm stunned by your indifference to the
foods your children are eating. I'm not Kieran (Note: Kieran is the groups
resident vegan-organic champion). But, you don't have to be radical or on
the edges of the spectrum to find middle ground alternatives. And,
how do you figure that your children's diet isn't your responsibility? If
your answer is that you don't have to worry because "it's the school's job",
then I'm going to have to ask why you don't just let the school raise your kids?
Jennifer, you made this huge stink (before Christmas) that there weren't more
Christmas songs in the winter concert. You staged a protest when you found
out the school was teaching evolution. You spent at least four days and
sixteen phone calls telling the school that you "were the parent", but....now
you're arguing that lunch isn't your problem? You're a hypocrite!
Check out my blog (Possummomma.blogspot.com) to see a lunch that can be
made for less than $2. - Possummomma"


(The other forum doesn't allow pictures.)
So, here you go, Jennifer! I make three lunches. It takes me about fifteen minutes. I make them at 11:00pm.

This is Lexi's lunch (without her sandwich). This is just one of our options for her, but...this includes: six cherry tomatos and fresh snow peas, pre-packaged bag of baby carrots, freeze dried apples, a manderine orange, and a peanut butter sandwich on sour dough. Total cost: $2.13


Jake's lunch is; a homemade, honey-wheat pita with leftover turkey, blueberries, a mandarine orange, carrots, and bell pepper strips that I hadn't washed before I took the pics. Total cost: $1.84


Grace takes; a peanut butter sandwich, carrots, blueberries, a banana, and a cheese stick.
Total cost: $1.92

Fifteen minutes and less than six dollars to make tasty, nutritious meals that I can guarantee you my kids will eat. I think it's worth the extra two minutes to tailor the lunch to their individual needs/preferences. And, it's damn sure worth the other thirteen minutes to provide them with food that isn't over-processed and full of empty calories. These are your kids for fark's sake! You brag about spending a half-hour each night reading your devotionals. Sorry to be the wicked bitch of the west, but... do you not think your kids would be better served by using that time to prepare a healthy lunch? What, exactly, do your kids get from the devotionals? Oh'! One more thing: don't pull the "I'm a working mother card." I know quite a few working mothers who are interested in what their children eat. Your work status also has nothing to do with the fact that your kids won't eat fruits or veggies. You said, in the forum chat, that you "just didn't have time or money to expose them" and "didn't want the battle". Kids WILL have their likes and dislikes, but...don't blame your kids for not liking veggies and fruit if you never give it to them.

/end rant

54 comments:

erin said...

I would never, ever trust school lunches. It is amazing the way they twist the food pyramid so that something is considered to be a healthy, MAIN choice. For example, Friday's lunch at my school consisted of bosco sticks as the MAIN COURSE. Grains, cheese, and tomato (in the sauce). Healthy? Not so much!

Mephitis said...

In the UK over the last couple of years we've been having a campaign led by tv chef Jamie Oliver to improve school lunches. Although the lunches cost the parent approx. £2 a day, only about 70p of that was being spent on the actual food. Obviously you have to pay catering staff etc, but it caused a bit of a furore, as you can imagine.

Personally I prefer to provide packed-lunches as you do. It doesn't take long and you know what they're getting.

I don't really understand parents who claim their children won't eat veg or fruit - my two were introduced to it as they weaned, and it's the one thing they have constant access to. And the adults in the house eat a lot of fruit & veg too, so it's led by example.

Poodles said...

Sounds like another person who had kids because she probably felt she was supposed to not because she wanted to.

We have a lot of young parents here in Utah (thanks lds church) who it appears have kids because that is what they are supposed to do, not what they want to do and it shows in their choices of what they consider important. Seems to me that church crap should take a back seat to making sure your kids are healthy and happy.

AlisonM said...

Well said, Possummomma. The quality of school lunches and breakfasts is appalling. In certain urban areas, the parents have the excuse of the cost of fresh food as an excuse - a lot of supermarkets won't open in areas where shrinkage is too costly, so all the locals get is fifty cent bananas in the local convenience store unless they can afford a taxi to go grocery shopping.

Sometimes I feel just as bad for the kids whose parents make their lunches. The school provides soggy chicken nuggets and some french fries, plus an unappetizing carrot stick or two, but I'd see kids with a bag of doritos, two high fructose corn syrup drink pouches, and maybe one of those hideous lunchables things, or another bag of a different kind of chip. I have a picky eater, but at least she'll eat applesauce and red pepper strips - if she has those every day, she might not get variety, but she gets something without artificial ingredients. I make her try different things at dinner.

That parental abdication of responsibility over nutrition is just a small symptom of what's really wrong with our schools - and no amount of money or tests or higher teacher standards is going to help it. Some people should probably be removed from the gene pool, dontchaknow.

Katie said...

P-momma you have hit the nail on the head and give another great argument that gives fuel to helping me push for more nutritious lunches for students for the same price or less.

Speaking as a teacher, school lunches have always given me a wonderful feeling of nausea just from the smell as well as the taste. I hate seeing any of my students eat the school lunches but almost all of my students with the exception of possibly 2 (I was one of those kids who never ate the school lunch) in every class each eat the lunch. These lunches my kids eat are full of empty carbs and loaded down with sugars. All lunches are government issued from our "central nutrition center" my city has created to help streamline school lunch and all the cafeteria workers do is just reheat the slop which has an expiration date of 2099 if refrigerated properly. (of couse I would like to note where I live they even managed to screw the refrigeration up and wasted literally TONS of food.)

A great alternative or perhaps a wonderful fix would be the one example the alternative school for troubled students followed in SuperSize Me. The students were not allowed certain harmful foods into their diet, sugary colas, but everything was mostly freshly prepared and NOT frozen.

kstorm said...

Interestingly I was watching C-Span's Book TV yesterday and one of the authors was Michael Pollan talking about his book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. There is also an NPR piece on his book 'In Defense of Food' Author Offers Advice for Health.

His basic message is to ""eat food, not too much, mostly plants." And what is implied here is that Americans eat a lot of things that are not really food - we eat "food-like products" His advise is to stay on the outer perimeter of the store - and get fresh veggies, unprocessed meats, fish and dairy products. Don't by any product with more that 5 ingredients and stay away from anything with high-fructose corn syrup. Not because the corn syrup is bad in and of itself but because it is usually teamed with other more unidentifiable ingredients.

A couple of interesting items he talked about were how indigenous peoples usually have a diet that fits there environment. Like the Inuit used to eat whale and seal blubber and fish and lichen. And these indigenous peoples were pretty healthy. Then the westerners came in and introduced the western diet and suddenly diseases theses peoples never had started to crop up in the population . Things like diabetes and heart disease and cancers they had never had before. These disease were actually known as "Western diseases". So they found that our diet is really very unhealthy.

Another interesting thing he mentioned was that a recent study found that people who cook and eat at home are more healthy than people who eat out a lot. This is across economic levels. So even people in higher economic sectors who eat out a lot are less healthy than those who cook fresh for themselves. I found that interesting as I think we usually think that poorer people who eat fast food a lot have more health problems, but these findings hold true across economic levels.

I don't know if you saw this photo essay on Time, What the World Eats. The thing that jumps out in these photos is now little fresh food American's eat compared to the rest of the world.

RickU said...

Those look like nice healthy lunches. I do have one problem w/ one of them though. PB&J on sourdough bread sounds foul.

wineymomma said...

Lullibell's school doesn't have a lunch program right now. It is a charter school that was renting the space and the contract didn't allow for use of the kitchen. So we pack lunches everyday except Friday. Not my idea of a good time considering the kinds of foods Lulli likes (not necessarily unhealthy just not easy to put into a sack lunch). There is also the issue of what is available fresh in Colorado in the fall. But we do the best we can and she eats healthy and doesn't complain (much).

When I was a kid my neighbor was the lunch coordinator for our school. Just about everything we had was homemade and delicious. Until I went to middle school. All I can say is YUCK!!!!! The food was awful. At that point I started taking lunch alot. Healthier but still not what we are trying to do today.

pb said...

I'm a teacher too, and I'd like to second what Katie said. School lunch is AWFUL.

At my school, breakfasts (breakfast burritos, breakfast pizzas, pancake-and-sausage-on-a-stick) average almost 700 calories and 25 grams of fat. Lunches (burritos, pizza, corndogs, hamburgers) average over 800 calories and almost 40 grams of fat. For 7-year-olds! These are the numbers the district publishes and hands out to teachers who raise a fuss. Don't even ask about sugar and sodium.

The worst part is that my students come from low-income families, and many of them rely on the school for most of their food. Several do not eat regularly on weekends and school vacations. I have enrolled more than one competent student in summer school just to make sure she ate regular meals during July and August.

Results: 20% of my second-grade students weigh over 100 pounds; 2 students in my class have severe kidney disorders; you wouldn't believe the cavities.

If you can possibly afford it (and PMomma shows it doesn't take much $), pack your kid a good lunch.

arana-suteshi said...

It isn't that hard to put together a good and healthy lunch! It takes me a whole of five minutes--if that!--to throw together both my kids lunches. And if I know I won't have time to prepare something in the morning, I make it the night before.

It is SO easy to provide veggies and fruit. Walk through the produce section, and you can find just about anything pre-sliced and ready to go. I love Costco for big quantities of prepackaged baby carrots and sliced apples and sliced cheese that isn't 75% plastic.

My son hates sandwiches, but he loves a ham, cheese, and spinich wrap. He gets one snack--usually a wafer cookie or a small bag of chips--and the rest is veggies and fruit. If I can't make a wrap, he'll still insist on a piece of cheese rolled up in a slice of lunchmeat.

It wasn't very hard to get my kids to eat good food. I just don't offer them anything else. All of the sweets are kept up high and only awarded to kids who eat all of their dinner. If they want a snack, they have a choice of apples, oranges, carrots, grapes, nuts, raisins, pieces of melon...And all of it is kept where they can get it themselves.

My roommate's daughter will NOT eat fruit or veggies. She has never had exposure to these things, and her diet is mostly macaroni and rice (she lives with her mother, who is always working, and so is being raised by grandma, who does not understand nutrition). She is three, and it is already having an adverse affect on her health. Developing children NEED good food. It's not okay to give them junk because "they won't eat anything else". You're not doing them any favors, and I just don't understand why parents aren't more concerned about what their kids are eating.

Infidel Rooster said...

PM,
I hope you let us know if you get a response to this from Jennifer, assuming she doesn't post to your blog post here.

Infidel Rooster said...

Off topic, but have you had any problems with your server lately? Just wondering because I posted a comment to your Time Passes entry but it never showed up, where as these two comments are okay. No big deal, just curious.
Of course, it may be on my end, who knows.
Only Jeebus;)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

erin said...
I would never, ever trust school lunches. It is amazing the way they twist the food pyramid so that something is considered to be a healthy.

Isn't it though? I know that grains are at the bottom of the pyramid, but... that's been taken a bit out of proportion.


Mephitis said....I don't really understand parents who claim their children won't eat veg or fruit - my two were introduced to it as they weaned, and it's the one thing they have constant access to. And the adults in the house eat a lot of fruit & veg too, so it's led by example.

...and, actually, if your child was breastfed, they got the veggie taste before you weaned them. I really, truly believe that has something to do with it. Not to get all breast nazi, but...when you think about how many kids go from the womb to processed formula, is it any wonder why they lack a desire for varied foods? Formula tastes the same every time.
Breast milk? ALWAYS varied.


Poodles said...
Sounds like another person who had kids because she probably felt she was supposed to not because she wanted to.

Jennifer is LDS.

Alison M said...
The quality of school lunches and breakfasts is appalling. In certain urban areas, the parents have the excuse of the cost of fresh food as an excuse - a lot of supermarkets won't open in areas where shrinkage is too costly, so all the locals get is fifty cent bananas in the local convenience store unless they can afford a taxi to go grocery shopping.

Point well made. THAT is a valid point and one that the government should spend some time remedying. If the families don't have access to fresh foods, then the school should be stepping up.

but I'd see kids with a bag of doritos, two high fructose corn syrup drink pouches, and maybe one of those hideous lunchables things, or another bag of a different kind of chip.
Lunchables are evil. I hate them. If you want a horror story, read the label on a Lunchable. We don't even do lunch meat (or, at least, we try not to...we occasionally buy ham). The meat for sandwiches almost always comes from left overs or some chicken breasts I've thrown in the oven for the purpose of lunches. P1 has one kidney, so we limit the nitrites and nitrates and salts.

That parental abdication of responsibility over nutrition is just a small symptom of what's really wrong with our schools - and no amount of money or tests or higher teacher standards is going to help it.
AMEN! WORD! Preach it, sista'!

Katie said...
All lunches are government issued from our "central nutrition center" my city has created to help streamline school lunch and all the cafeteria workers do is just reheat the slop which has an expiration date of 2099 if refrigerated properly.

LOL. So true. Lexi and Jake can eat in the cafeteria twice a month (and they usually choose pizza day). But, one day, the pizza was last minute substituted because the ovens broke. Instead, they got sandwhiches. Lex' brought home the label and we both gagged at the ingredient called "meat product." ??? I said, "Did you eat this?!" and she said, "Heck no!" Jake goes, "I passed, too. It could've been ebola laced monkey meat."
ROFLOL.

A great alternative or perhaps a wonderful fix would be the one example the alternative school for troubled students followed in SuperSize Me.
YES!! I am envious of that salad bar and menu. The prepared stuff was pretty high in sodium (I believ), but it was ten times better than what's being served around here.

Kstorn said...And what is implied here is that Americans eat a lot of things that are not really food - we eat "food-like products" His advise is to stay on the outer perimeter of the store - and get fresh veggies, unprocessed meats, fish and dairy products. Don't by any product with more that 5 ingredients and stay away from anything with high-fructose corn syrup
Excellent advice.

RickU said...
Those look like nice healthy lunches. I do have one problem w/ one of them though. PB&J on sourdough bread sounds foul.

LOL! I have no idea why she likes that. I tried it one night (while I was making their lunches) and it was nasty. To each their own, I guess.

Wineymama said...
Not my idea of a good time considering the kinds of foods Lulli likes (not necessarily unhealthy just not easy to put into a sack lunch). There is also the issue of what is available fresh in Colorado in the fall.

Have you ever tried buying her a bento box? We have one and it's fantastic for packing lunches with things that just won't work in a sack lunch or plastic bag. Occasionally, one of the kids will request that I make them a bento meal because it's a change in the norm. I've put couscous, yogurt, grilled chicken, and pitas in them. I've done left-overs in them. They're compartmentalized so that you can put just about anything in them. Tuck a BlueIce in the bottom and it'll stay cold through lunch. I imagine that Colorado in the fall would present some challenges. Fair point. We have a year round growing season around here and it's spoiled us.

pb said...At my school, breakfasts (breakfast burritos, breakfast pizzas, pancake-and-sausage-on-a-stick) average almost 700 calories and 25 grams of fat. Lunches (burritos, pizza, corndogs, hamburgers) average over 800 calories and almost 40 grams of fat. For 7-year-olds!
HOLY. COW.
That's almost criminal. So, the child has 300-500 calories left to eat dinner and snacks (assuming a 2000 calorie diet)? No wonder obesity in children is a problem. And, 40g of fat!?!?

Several do not eat regularly on weekends and school vacations. I have enrolled more than one competent student in summer school just to make sure she ate regular meals during July and August.

:( This makes me very sad. We live in one of the most agriculturally sound countries in the world and not all of our kids are eating. Ridiculous. You're their hero. *hugs*

arena said..It wasn't very hard to get my kids to eat good food. I just don't offer them anything else. All of the sweets are kept up high and only awarded to kids who eat all of their dinner. If they want a snack, they have a choice of apples, oranges, carrots, grapes, nuts, raisins, pieces of melon...And all of it is kept where they can get it themselves.
EXACTLY!! Same here.

Infidel Rooster said...
Off topic, but have you had any problems with your server lately? Just wondering because I posted a comment to your Time Passes entry but it never showed up, where as these two comments are okay. No big deal, just curious.
Of course, it may be on my end, who knows.
Only Jeebus;)

If comments aren't appearing, then I suppose I do have a problem. I'll look into it. Thanks for the heads-up. :(
And, yes! I'll let you know what her response is. Everyone on the school's message board is waiting for it, too.

reddhedd said...

Kids eat what they are accustomed to...so if you have chips and snack cakes and soda in the house, that's what they'll eat. If you refuse to bring those into the house, and only supply fruits and veggies...even the most stubborn child will eventually eat an apple, or a stick of celery, or applesauce. They may whine for a week or two, but so what? This is their LIFE, for pete's sake! Parenting isn't about being popular, it's about making hard choices to keep your kids healthy and safe.

Besides, how can kids think well, and learn anything, if they don't have good fuel for their brains to work properly? I bet a healthy lunch is cheaper than providing junk food, too.

Betsy said...

I stopped letting my son buy school lunches occasionally when I ate with him one day and his lunch consisted of: sugary yogurt, cheese stick, carrot sticks, a bag of chips and an oatmeal pie cookie. Ick.

Regarding calories, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the 2000 calorie/day guideline for grown adult men? It is my understanding that women are closer to 1500-1800 with children, especially smaller ones, needing less than that.

I never thought of the breastfeeding thing as a reason my oldest son won't eat veggies, but that's a good point. He was formula fed after he lost a ton of weight on breastmilk, (I was clueless) but my second was breastfed and eats anything. I was also over anxious for the first to eat regular veggies and took him off of the jarred baby veggies pretty early, while the second ate them until after he was 2. I WISH so badly that I had kept my first on jarred veggies longer. It's such a battle to get him to eat veggies now, at 6. We resort to making sweet potato fries (Baked, not fried) and putting baby food into meatloaf.

erin said...

Sometimes I feel just as bad for the kids whose parents make their lunches. The school provides soggy chicken nuggets and some french fries, plus an unappetizing carrot stick or two, but I'd see kids with a bag of doritos, two high fructose corn syrup drink pouches, and maybe one of those hideous lunchables things,

ITA. When I was in school, my mom was the complete hippie mom who would send me with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, and homemade jam sandwiches. My "dessert" would consist of dried fruit...and sugary drinks? Those didn't exist for me! I was always insanely covetous of the kids with Wonderbread and ho-hos, but looking back, I'm happy that my mom did that for me!

Not to get all breast nazi, but...when you think about how many kids go from the womb to processed formula, is it any wonder why they lack a desire for varied foods? Formula tastes the same every time.
Breast milk? ALWAYS varied.


That's an excellent point and one I (shockingly) hadn't thought of yet. My FIL last night remarked on how much Luke seems to like veggies (noted by his shoving fistfuls of peas in his mouth) and how both Shane and his sister struggled with veggies. It didn't occur to me to point out the obvious in that Luke has tasted a wide variety of foods since the day he was born.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Her response...
I doubt you made those for under two dollars. Blueberries are running $8 at costco. I don't have time to make my own bread like that. I'm insulted by your rude words about my devotionals. "What do your kids get from that?" A mother who loves GOD so much that she will lead them in the right path. How dare you underestimate there importance? Food is a temporary issue for Christians. The schools are supposed to feed them well and so I trust that they do feed them well. I hear no one complaining.

Mmmmmmmkay, then.

fsmismyhero said...

P-momma,

If you have a Trader Joe's nearby they have excellent lunch meat with all natural ingredients and no nitrates. It's a bit expensive but totally worth it!

Poodles said...

*Headdesk*

AlisonM said...

I'm insulted by your rude words about my devotionals. "What do your kids get from that?" A mother who loves GOD so much that she will lead them in the right path. How dare you underestimate there importance?

If you're not paying any attention to them, how do you know they're following you down the path? Are you really looking back to check, if you don't even know what they're eating?

Food is a temporary issue for Christians.

Why, because you don't eat in heaven after you die early from food-related health problems? I mean, yeah, food is a temporary issue for all of us. We eat, we digest, we excrete, we eat again, but there's a little more involved than just that. I would love to hear the explanation for that little sentence.

The schools are supposed to feed them well and so I trust that they do feed them well. I hear no one complaining.

And the politicians are supposed to help people, so we can trust that they do. And toy stores are supposed to sell toys that are safe for children, so we can trust that they do. And the justice system punishes all criminals appropriately, and convicts only the guilty. *sigh* The kids won't complain if they don't know anything better. Of course, that's why the cdesign proponentsists want to let them decide for themselves about intelligent design - because they know the kids won't know the difference. They'll eat what you feed them until it's too late to fix the damage that's been done.

kstorm said...

@Possummomma Regarding "Jennifer's" answer - I thought of this today - isn't your body a gift from god as well? If you are going to spend a lot of time "nourishing the spirit" shouldn't you give equal time and effort ( and dollars) nourishing the body? If you are going to teach your children good spiritual habits - should you also teach them good bodily habits? Not to mention that without good nutrition you may be feeding your children into disease.

If god gave you the gift of a body and you treat it badly why should god treat you well. If you believe that god is your father- and your father gives you a gift why not treat it with respect?

and hell as an atheist - I would want to treat my body with respect so I could live as long and as healthily as possible and if I had kids I would certainly want the same for them. Really her answers to you boggle the mind! Is she willing to watch her child develop diabetes or have a heart condition in their 30s?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Oooooooh, good angle, Kstorm. That's a great point. We should discuss this. If the body is given to you by God, then aren't you beholden to take care of it?

@Poodles - LOL. Same desire here. *head desk*

amberkat said...

I'm no nutritionist but the lunches look light on protein. Is that a concern? Maybe someone better educated can answer my question? The lunches are healthy but should kids be eating that many vegetables and fruits in one sitting?

"Jennifer" said...

I think you're misjudgeing me. Lunches are guaranteed to be healthy by the federal branch of our government or else the schools don't get money. Saying that the food is bad because it's "processed" doesn't mean it is bad. We eat processed food at home. What would happen if the school put food out that kids don't like then there would be waste and no nutrition at all. In my opinion and that's all it is, I think catering to your kids with expensive fresh food is kind of worse. What will happen when they leave home and food is costly? I ate fresh food every day and then moved out and had chronic intestinal disease because I had to eat what I could afford. Where are you shopping to get these lunches for less than the cost of our lunch tickets? I can't see how they are less than two dollars.
I should've known you were doing that atheist popular thing. You never supported my concerns. Why does being LDS matter?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

amberkat said...
I'm no nutritionist but the lunches look light on protein. Is that a concern? Maybe someone better educated can answer my question? The lunches are healthy but should kids be eating that many vegetables and fruits in one sitting?

You're right. It does look light on protein. Hrm. I think Grace would be okay with the peanut butter and cheese, but I'm not sure (now that you point it out) that the other two are getting enough.

"Jennifer" said...I think you're misjudgeing me. Lunches are guaranteed to be healthy by the federal branch of our government or else the schools don't get money.
Where are you getting this oft mentioned "guarantee" from? The only thing I can find is a 1946 legislation that states the government must provide food in public schools and a later law (1970) that says they have to be reasonably priced. There's NO rules about what should or can be served. In fact, all I can find are articles pointing out how craptastic the nutritional standards are.

Saying that the food is bad because it's "processed" doesn't mean it is bad. We eat processed food at home.
Just because it's common doesn't make it healthy. I'm no dietary genius, but...it makes sense, to me, that mashed potatoes shouldn't have an ingredient list that takes up three inches on the back of a box. They're fricken potatoes!!!
Why would you, living here as we do, eat processed and chemically altered crap when you can buy the fresh stuff for the same or less money?

What would happen if the school put food out that kids don't like then there would be waste and no nutrition at all.
Why do you have such little faith in what a child will find appealing?

In my opinion and that's all it is, I think catering to your kids with expensive fresh food is kind of worse. What will happen when they leave home and food is costly?
Hey Poodles!! Let's do this again...
*HEAD DESK*
Um. I think you're missing the point, Jen. It's not all that costly. You buy a 24 pack of chips for, what, $10? Why not buy $1 worth of cucumbers and lightly salt them? You'll have $9 left over for the blueberries. ;)

I ate fresh food every day and then moved out and had chronic intestinal disease because I had to eat what I could afford.
*boggle* So, wait... the fact that you were eating cheap, (one imagines) highly processed food in no way contributed to your stomach issues? The fact that you didn't have stomach problems while eating fresh foods doesn't seem telling to you?
Where are you shopping to get these lunches for less than the cost of our lunch tickets? I can't see how they are less than two dollars.

YOU LIVE IN THE FRIGGIN' CENTRAL VALLEY OF CALIFORNIA! This is the agricultural bread basket of THE WORLD. Go to the flippin' farmer's market outside of the old Montgomery Wards building on F street. It's open on Saturdays from 8-noon. Your veggies won't *look* perfect or store manicured, but you can buy a boat load of produce for your money. Or, do as we did,...strike up an agreement with a local farmer or gardener. Agree to pick your own for a fantastically reduced price. Support that farmer's efforts and you'll be rewarded with boxes and bags of fresh produce when his zuchinni plants over-produce. Be flexible enough to use what you have in creative ways (mmmmmm...zuchinni bread). It's easy if you try. I can't tell you how easy it becomes.

I should've known you were doing that atheist popular thing. You never supported my concerns. Why does being LDS matter?

*head desk*

aimee said...

Pmomma,
I have to disagree about breastfeeding. I didn't do this with any of my kids (3 of them), and all of them love to eat salads, fruit, and veggies. When we do eat out, my oldest will eat more salad bar than anything else. If there is a choice between fries and grapes, they almost always choose grapes or a fresh fruit bowl.

I do believe though if it is never introduced to them, then yeah,they wont like it.

wineymomma said...

@kstorm- you are absolutely correct on the idea that your body is a gift from God. I do try to honor that for myself and my kids.

@amberkat- I had the same question about protein because Lullibell is a protein fiend.

@pmomma-I love the idea of the bento box!

If you would like to see how absolutely ill you can make a child give Lulli a lunchable! Or any kind of nitrate filled lunchmeat. yuck!

Breastfeeding was absolutely the best for my monsters and me.

And if we trust the federal government to feed our kids and not lie to us pretty soon we could all be eating like mushrooms!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Hi Aimee!
It's just a theory. I should've phrased it as such. I think you're right about early, and frequent, introduction being the REAL impetus.
Sorry if I accidently offended!

Brigit said...

1st time visitor... you have a lovely place here :)
Have you considered adding a small cup of cottage cheese to eat with the veggies? It is very low in fat and calories, and it is high in protein. As a bonus, it tastes great with snow peas AND carrots.

Chris said...

alisonm: LOL @ "cdesign proponentsists". I always get a kick out of that!

jennifer:
I ate fresh food every day and then moved out and had chronic intestinal disease because I had to eat what I could afford.

Unless you're talking about eating cardboard, this is a pretty telling line. Your saying moving from fresh food to "cheap food" gave you chronic intestinal disease, yet you're perfectly fine having your kids eat the cheap, bad stuff all the time, the same stuf that caused these issues in the first place? Eating healthier with fresh foods keeps you feeling better, more refreshed, and your body can handle it a lot better than the processed stuff. The move from fresh foods to cheap stuff is why you felt that bad, I dare you to move back to fresh foods, you'll feel a whole lot better.

As for the food being cheaper, what a load of BS. Fresh, natural food *can* be more expensive, but not all of it is, you just need to know where to look and how to shop. It can take a little more time and effort than just buying processed foods, but the nutritional value and benefits gained are worth it in the long run.

As for the food being temparary, only on a superficial level. The food you teach your kids to eat as they grow up is what they'll learn to eat as an adult, so any bad choices can carry on in their diet for a long time. Not to mention that a bad diet can lead to longer lasting problems, such as being overweight, diabetes, etc. Your body, and those of your kids, are a gift from god (as a theist would believe). Treat that gift right.

And finally, as for the idea that schools are supposed to give healthy meals...where the hell have you been? School meals are anything but healthy. Any of the nutritional guidelines that are set on school meals, if there are any, are usually just barely met, which doesn't mean all that much considering the guidelines leave so much fudge room that in the process of making the meals as cheap as possible (all hail the almighty dollar) and of the nutritional gains are negated in other areas. Honestly, have you actually eaten a school meal anytime relatively recently? I have, they were absolutely disgusting and made you feel tired and sluggish...which is telling, since at home I ate nothing but processed foods.

Basically, it's a huge disservice to your kids not to teach them proper nutrition. You're setting them up for a lifetime of bad eating habits and a high likelyhood of health issues, all because you have the misguided idea that eating healthy has to be a lot more expensive and time consuming (and even if it was...these are your kids!)

arana-suteshi said...

Saying that the food is bad because it's "processed" doesn't mean it is bad. We eat processed food at home.

*herk* What? If most of the ingredients in your food are not actually food, then I would say that, oh yes, it's BAD.

I was raised on junk. Hamburger Helper every night, or cafeteria food since my mom was a lunch lady. Do you know what that pizza looks like once the cheese cools? The sauce turned into some kind of red goo, the cheese was hard and rubbery, and I don't think the crust was meant to be consumed.

It makes me sick just thinking about it. *shudder* I won't ever do that to my kids.

Diane said...

My kids were both breastfed and while my girl *used* to have a wide-ranging palate, now she's much, much pickier. Stuff she couldn't get enough of at one point she won't touch now (like asparagus). My boy will eat just about anything. I try not praise him for that, because I don't want him to associate lots of food == love. But it sure makes me happy when he tries everything.

amarullis said...

A few years ago, one of my friends was a kitchen manager at a charter school in Austin, Texas. The state introduced a new plan that cut out anything fried, anything with certain fat/calorie ratios, transfats, high sugar content, sodas, etc. She said the kids were fine with it. There were a few whines in the beginning, but nothing terrible. The teachers commented that the kids behaved better sans the heavy and sugary meals.

Another thing I have read is that it takes children at least 3 tries of a new food to get a taste for it. If they won't each their veggies, just ask them to take one bite and serve the same item a couple more times that week.

JP said...

Great pointers here. As one who struggles a bit with whats "the best" for my kid to eat, I now have many ideas.

Thank you

"Unless you're talking about eating cardboard"

That was pretty damn funny.

kstorm said...

"Jennifer" - I hate to paste a big clip from another article , but from the NPR article I mention above:

But can you follow Pollan's advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?

"You're going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both," Pollan says. "And I think that's just the reality. It's really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I'm arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.

"And if we don't, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road. We're either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we're going to change the way we eat. I mean, it's really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it's heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we're eating."


I think you would be interested in Michael Pollan's book - not only does he talk about nutrition in general but he talks about how "big business" has affected our perception of food. And when you start to realize that we are being manipulated by the companies that supply our food then you start to get angry and say that MY health matters more than their profits.

If we all started to eat more locally-grown food and more fresh food - the price would come down. If we all avoid those processed "food-like" products then their price will go up.

You can also work with the schools to provide healthier meals - here in Vermont we are working on getting schools to buy locally grown produce, meats and dairy. This helps our local economy (our neighbors) and gets rid of those food-substitutes.

aiabx said...

Peanut butter isn't allowed at my daughter's school (allergy reasons), but we always set aside some chicken, ham or roast beef when we have it for sandwiches, or mix up some tinned (dolphin free) tuna and lemon juice.
And fruit, a bottle of real juice, and a couple of cookies, because what is life without cookies? Us atheists need to get our enjoyment in *this* life.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Thanks to whoever it was (I can't find the comment now) who suggested the TraderJoes lunch meat. I'll have to send hubby to check it out. We usually cook a bigger portion of chicken, turkey, or beef, to use for sandwiches.

Jennifer,
I've been thinknig of some of the things you said and, what I'm hearing, is that you don't think you have time. I don't get this. You have to go shopping for the processed stuff. Why would it take any more time to shop for the unprocessed things? I presume your diet has the occasional apple or orange - why not spend more time in the produce section finding what you like? And, if your kids are THAT hard to please, start sneaking some veggies in. Like someone suggested here - use baby food in meat loaf or in cakes/cookies. If you want, I'll share my receipe for carrot-raisin muffins and oatmeal cookies sweetened with applesauce (instead of sugar). There are so many options for replacing the not-so-good stuff with better stuff. Heck! Drop me your phone number and I'll make some for you.

As for time - well, like I said, why not skip a devotional and spend a half-hour planning a lunch menu for the week? That's half the battle.

Eight Hour Lunch said...

Our daughter's school doesn't even have a school lunch program, and that's fine with me. What they do have is two microwaves per classroom and a daily schedule for who gets to use them when.

1steelcobra said...

I'll admit I'm a bit unusual in my tastes, and have been since I was a kid. I can't stand olives at all, and only like sour cream when it's well mixed into something, like beef stroganoff or french onion dip. But I love pickled herring.

As for the school lunches, Minneapolis Public Schools sounds a bit better than some of the districts mentioned. Although in my first couple years of high school, during football season I'd only eat pre-packed big salads topped with chunks of little ham/turkey squares and a boiled egg. And then in senior year I'd go eat at subway or the traditional mexican place a few blocks away instead of eating in the cafeteria.

But then, I'd eat cereal in the morning and make dinner for the family because my parents (who both drive school busses) would leave early and get home late. And it'd typically be a meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc. either baked or cooked in some way on the stove) and some canned vegetables.

The bonus was that I learned to cook AND avoided my Mom's blander seasoning choices.

Katie said...

Oh P-momma you've got me rolling...

...ebola laced monkey meat..

I would feel safer eating of those really cheap hot dogs with the mystery meats then one of those sandwiches.

YES!! I am envious of that salad bar and menu. The prepared stuff was pretty high in sodium (I believ), but it was ten times better than what's being served around here.

I wish I could have salad all of the time but I have to be careful bringing it and other certain leafy veggies into my home. My husband has a severe allergy to lettuce and even slight contact can cause a bad reaction. The stuff they did prepare in some of those scenes did appear to be pretty high in sodium but it is better then that sausage on a stick.

SUV MAMA said...

Possummomma, I usually don't comment when one has 40 comments, especially when you have taken charge of the battle and fought quite valiantly and don't need my help... but I must ask LDS Jenn if she has heard of seeds.

Seeds. They come in little packets... you know, for a couple of cents. Maybe a buck. And they go in the grounds and... GROW things... like REAL food. Food of the CREATOR of which she allegedly loves and supports. If she lives in an apartment with no sunlight and no windows, she can RENT garden space for very little money.

Teach the woman to grow food. Then maybe her poor kids, when they are thrust out into the world with their public school education of which she criticizes for its lack of godliness and goodness (except their food, which CLEARLY is more than acceptable), they can survive on more than the processed food they'll be able to purchase with their meager earnings (talk about having aspirations for your kids though!).

Love the blog, btw.

1steelcobra said...

Seeds. They come in little packets... you know, for a couple of cents. Maybe a buck. And they go in the grounds and... GROW things... like REAL food.

mmmm, homegrown habaneros and jalapenos...they even grow well in Minnesota. My mom also plants tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Such a garden may not be possible in planned suburbs though, but we had a fairly large yard even though we lived inside Minneapolis.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Gardens are fantastic. I'm really missing Lexi's garden right now. She had some wonderful tomatoes (heirloom) growing. The flavors were out of this world. We also grew okra and gourds that were wonderful.

Poodles said...

@Jennifer

Being LDS SHOULD have a lot to do with what you feed yourself and your family. If you were to truly follow the word of wisdom, you would know that the food you take into your body is important. You are supposed to believe your bodies house the holy spirit and that is why you aren't supposed to partake of certain substances and why you are supposed to take care of your body, correct?

But then again, many LDS pick and choose from the WoW just as many religious do the bible.

Mephitis said...

My two were breastfed, so you may have a point that it could be a factor.


If Jennifer hasn't the time or inclination for proper cooking on a daily basis, I suggest she tries cooking up large batches of various meals and freezing them, one weekend a month.

It actually saves you a load of money because you buy in bulk and you.

Also, you can just grab something out of the freezer when you're not up to cooking in exactly the same way as you could do with a shop-bought ready-meal, but with the advantages that you actually know exactly what's in it and there isn't so much packaging.

1steelcobra said...

I'll admit I hated having to go weed the garden. But the cherry tomatoes were awesome off the vine.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Pmomma - please post your sneaky recipes! I've been desperately trying to broaden the diet of my eldest for years. Why he's such a narrow eater, I don't know - except that it may be heredity, I was very fussy as a kid, and my uncle supposedly lived for more than a year on nothing but plain boiled rice, eaten one grain at a time. He was breastfed, and his younger brother is a wide-ranging eater, so there's exposure, but he'd rather eat nothing for days on end than let an unapproved food pass his lips. We let him eat school lunches occassionally because he will actually sometimes try something if he sees other kids eating it day after day and nobody pressures him.

So any recipes or notions would be much welcomed!

Sarah Ann Post said...

Possummomma,

I was just wondering, do your kids use ranch or any kinds of veggie dips? I've always introduced fresh veggies (fruits don't seem to be a problem), but I can't seem to get my oldest to eat any of them unless she has ranch. She'll eat almost anything if she has ranch, but take it away and she won't touch it. She's getting a bit better at using it as a flavoring instead of a main course. My husband frequently teases that she gets all of her fats and calories from ranch. (We eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruits, even though they are out of season in MN, and very little meats).

The "introduce a thing 3 times" thing has never worked for me. We always eat spinach, but my 23 month old wouldn't touch it, and she's had it offered hundreds of times. But two days ago she started eating it!! I was VERY excited about that!! But that is how it is with almost anything new, I have to offer it many many times before my youngest will try it. My oldest knows now that she has to try it, and will, we went through this whole process already with her, but we're still working on that with my 23 month old.

LDS people are supposed to be concerned about what goes into their bodies. It is taught that our bodies are a gift, and we are expected to take as good of care of them as possible. That not only means not taking in harmful things, but consuming good well balanced foods AND exersize (sp). Yes, it is true that often LDS people will pick and chose what they think is important, but we are taught that all is important. We are also taught that you should do all you can to help yourself and not expect God to just give you what you need whenever you want, especially if your not taking care of yourself. So eating right and physical activity is important!

And I have to say, most of the LDS people that I know have children because they WANTED to, and not because they were expected. Of course, I don't live in a highly populated LDS community, so that could be the difference, there isn't the pressure, I don't know, I've always lived in the midwest.

Also, a side note, one of the things I've noticed about kids diets is that very few consume enough water(along with everything else they don't eat right). They drink all sorts of other beverages, but not water. I think drinking a lot of water is healthy and helps to keep the balance right.

erin said...

Lunches are guaranteed to be healthy by the federal branch of our government or else the schools don't get money.

Jennifer--Are you a teacher? I am. After reading Pmomma's ideas on school lunches, I paid particular attention to today's lunch. Chicken tenders with an optional side of apples and mashed potatoes. Most kids I saw were only eating the breaded chicken tenders...OR eating the pop-tarts that are sold separately.
Yes, the chicken tenders are protein, but do you honestly believe that it is HEALTHY? I cringe at what the sodium must be. And let's not even get started on the POP-TARTS!
While yes schools are required to serve certain helpings from the food pyramid, as I stated in my first comment, they are certainly not required to make sure that children EAT those items, and they also have clever ways of stretching the food pyramid so that the food served falls under the proper categories.

Stardust said...

I think you're misjudgeing me. Lunches are guaranteed to be healthy by the federal branch of our government or else the schools don't get money.

I almost choked on my coffee when I read this! LOL! Most people who trust schools are just too lazy to make an effort to change things, or take matters into their own hands.

Good for everyone here who takes the time and make the effort to feed their kids well and take care of them properly and not make lame excuses to be lazy.

School food is nasty.

aimee said...

Pmomma,
Not offended here, my apologies to you. I should have said in my case anyway, my kids love fruits and veggies w/out having been breastfed. All kids are different. My 2 yr old loves her "trees", broccoli and cauliflower.

And I second that on you listing your recipes for the rest of us. I would love to have a go at them : )

Gramomster said...

Okay, I just have to add... for school lunches, ketchup counts as a vegetable! Thanks Ronnie! WTF?!

And in this great book on feeding kids, "Feed Me, I'm Yours", it is offered that kids need to be offered a new food sometimes over a dozen times, sometimes over time, like try it six months down the road if they won't do it now. My 20 month old grandson won't touch spinach, neither will my daughter, his mother, unless it is in spaghetti sauce or lasagna. Then, they'll eat tons! Chopped up all nice and little... so they can't pick it out! Maybe it's something about in combination with tomato? Eh whatever, it works.

And, as to that taking care of the body as it as a gift from god... I remember back in my brief born-again period actually falling to my knees in a parking lot to pray for friends who were smoking. Their bodies were the temple of god, and they were defiling it. Yeah, over that, but it's the idea... cigarettes are horrible (and I smoke them... ack) but crappy food is arguably not a whole lot better.

susanbrown said...

A comment on protein -- assuming they are getting protein in their breakfast & dinner, they are probably getting sufficient protein on a daily basis. What is more difficult to get -- and which you seem to be providing for them -- are the micronutrients, antioxidants, etc. that are generally found in the fresh fruits and vegetables.

You're doing just fine -- and from their pictures at least, they look happy, well fed and healthy!

PootyPootwell said...

You had me until "homemade pita."