MiniCyn and I watched this last Friday. I'd been planning to, and I made her watch it with me - she pouted about it for about three days beforehand, but was riveted to it once it started.
Boy howdy, have times changed in 25 years! At the public school I attended in the 80s, we didn't have a menu of choices - there was one entree, two veggies, one starch, fresh made rolls, and if we were lucky, a dessert of some sort (usually jello, an apple crisp, fresh fruit, or jello). Very little was processed crap (I recall baked or fried chicken being served fairly often, as well as spaghetti with meat sauce, lasagna, and when they made pizza, while it was on one of those huge trays, they were definitely put together by hand and looked nothing like the shit shown on this show). The food wasn't amazing, but most of the time it was edible. Interestingly enough, when they did serve hamburgers, no one wanted them as they were so processed (and we were pretty sure at least half soy) and tasted like cardboard, and the hot dogs (beans and franks or a dog in a bun did show up on the menu 2-3 times a month) were tough and oozed preservative, not unlike hot dogs from the grocery store. The only other option we had was a salad bar, which was pretty decent by school standards, but they always ran out of it if you were on the late lunch schedule.
If you factor in the additional cost of a small bottle of milk - lowfat regular or chocolate skim (which MC referred to as disgusting and slimy ), lunch costs on average almost 3 bucks a day. It's more if a kid opts for chicken nuggets or a salad. Back in the Dark Ages (aka 1985), lunch was $1.50, which included milk.
Unless there's something very specific on the lunch menu, MC takes brown bags her lunch. After watching Jamie Oliver's show last week, she's horrified at what the school is feeding them.
What freaked me out was the overweight family's fridge/freezer that was stuffed to the hilt with frozen pizzas, as well as that disgusting fryer . I mean, how damn difficult is it to make a stir-fry when compared to frying up a bunch of garbage, draining it, and serving it up, FFS?
If there's one good thing about this show, it's made her aware of just how crappy the eating habits for so many in the US (and around the world) have become. After seeing that segment when they made chicken nuggets, she was beyond horrified , chewed my ass out for ever fixing them for her (which, I reminded her, I've tried to discourage her from eating them for years, but friggin' Happy Meals *had* to be it), and has vowed to never eat a processed nugget of any kind ever again. She's also told all her friends about the show, and they're planning on watching it this Friday or DVRing it for later viewing.
If you looked at the canned chili that schools serve, I'll bet you will find more artificial ingredients in there (and fewer beans) than in the chili that the Oregon schools are serving. And I'd certainly prefer that my kid eat that Oregon chili than eat nuggets dipped in sauce packed with corn syrup.
But, when it comes to fruit, I do think it would be better to serve fresh fruit than juice or most canned fruit. Kids already eat enough sugary foods that don't have fiber. Apple juice is definitely better than candy, but fresh apples are better. Ditto for fresh peaches versus canned peaches.
I buy mostly frozen veggies (and canned corn and beans) and some canned fruits. I like the convenience factor, and the lack of food waste. I figure canned/frozen produce is better than none at all.
That doesn't stop my mom from making fun of the fact that I like canned fruit.
Allskate, I bought up the article because of the budget issue. Fresh foods tend to be more expensive, if the schools need to save money (and most do), frozen/canned food are a good way to do it. You can buy them in bulk and storage is not an issue. Hiring human labor to prepare the food will still be an issue, but frozen produce will still be easier to work with.
I don't like canned fruits either, too much syrup and the texture is off. But I love dried fruits, which depends on the process that can have a lot of sugar too.
But, when you're looking at other kinds of foods, I personally don't think we should be trading nutrition for convenience and labor savings with frozen nuggets, processed fatty potato products, etc. That's why I said that I think a school system wide program that increases efficiency, but produces healthy food is a way to provide nutritious and appealing meals while minimizing the price increases.
But YMMV, definitely.
And yuck canned peaches! I can't stomach the stuff ever since the day a kid threw up on the school bus and it didn't get properly cleaned for weeks. And it smelled like canned peaches. Fresh peaches are little slices of heaven though.
I feel like people are shooting down straw horses. Once again, in the shows I've seen, Jamie has not taken issue with the nutritional value of frozen veggies. He has taken issue with things like trans fats in "mashed potatoes," artificial ingredients and sweeteners, and processed foods like nuggets.
I just don't like canned fruit period. It's so sweet and fake tasting. I much prefer fresh fruit.
I'll always prefer fresh fruit to canned or frozen (who wouldn't?!), but if I have to go with the canned stuff, peaches in a very light syrup is passable - the heavy syrup is beyond gross.
The king-daddy of nasty canned fruit are pears. That shit sent me running far, far away even as a kid, no matter how many processed maraschino cherries were added to "cheer" it up .
Cyn, I never eat canned fruit. I don't know what the heck they do when they process it but it's always limp/mushy and the flavor isn't that great either. I mix fresh fruit with the fruit in the jars. In the jar still might not be as good as fresh but I find it tastes better and is fresher. I can especially tell the difference with pineapple and even the pears aren't as nasty as the in the can.
As for fruit in jars (like grapefruit wedges) that are refridgerated and sold next to the produce department, they'll do in a pinch if fresh isn't available, but again, if there's fresh available, that's what I'm buying.
Ironically, my neighbor and I are planting a vegetable garden in my backyard (this is a first for me), and I'm going to have to learn how to can (or do the Mason jar thing) certain types of veggies . We're also going to be pickling cucumbers and okra (another first), and will probably be having tomatoes coming out of our ears - not that I'm complaining as a garden-fresh tomato sandwich on white bread with mayo, salt, and pepper is my all-time favorite summer lunch .
One of the items that received a positive review was this thing called a Topsy-Turvy Tomato (or something like that). It allows you to grow tomato plants indoors from a hanging-basket thing (the plant grows upside down somehow), and according to the show, the sucker works. Even better, it's now available in a lot of drug stores. I've seen it at Rite-Aid and CVS, so you might want to check it out. IIRC, they run about 20 bucks, which is a small price to pay for fresh, juicy 'maters rather than those nasty, pink, grainy, flavorless greenhouse things most grocery stores carry.
Tomatoes are pretty easy to grow. My bf took some seeds left over when we ate some heirloom tomatoes and stuck it in some pots in the backyard which I had neglected to clean out when their original plants died...and I had a bunch of little tomato seedlings growing a few months ago right during winter. Luckily we live in SoCal and it was mild enough that most of the seedlings lived and now I have 3 happy growing flowering heirloom tomato plants in my backyard. Just get one big pot per plant (biggest pot you can find, the roots go DEEP) and a sunny spot, and you should be good to go. Tomatoes love sun, so they're a perfect summer plant. The only thing you really need to do is make sure they get a lot of sun and water it slow and deep but not too often.