Tag Archives: school lunch

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family

Don’t Miss Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – Season Two!


I got so jacked up when Jamie Oliver’s first season of Food Revolution was on last year. I had such high hopes for the outcome of his visit to Huntington, VA. Although he didn’t achieve his desired goal of changing the food in the schools of this city, he did make a lasting impression and changed the lives of many people who live there.

Jamie spent years in his home country of Britain changing the way schools fed their children. He has most recently been working with L.A. Unified School District – the nation’s second largest school districts – trying to revamp the school lunch program there for the second season of his show.

See clips from last season and previews here. The new season will start on Tuesday, April 12th.

Here are some of the highlights from last season in Huntington, WV: I love how Rhonda McCoy, director of Food Services, says that they don’t want to eliminate the sugary milk because kids won’t drink it without.  If you remember back to just how bird-brained this woman is, she’s the one who told Jamie one day at the school that there weren’t enough vegetables being served that day (even though he and the staff carefully prepared and weighed all the vegetables to make sure there was the recommended amount), and said to add french fries because they are considered a vegetable (fried in rancid vegetable oil…YUCCKKKHHH!).

She’s also the one who said that things weren’t working out because the kids weren’t eating the food, and that if Jamie wanted the program to continue, he would have to do “a lot  better than what he’s shown us in the first couple days.” Showing her complete aversion to a program that serves children healthy food, and the fact that she wasn’t even willing to give it time – which, with anything like this, time has to be given in order to instill good habits in children who have been used to eating junk for so many years. It’s not going to happen overnight. Jamie firmly impressed that we should give the kids what we should give them, and they’ll get used to it. Go Jamie!

My thoughts about the school lunch program

For many years I’ve been active and vocal about school lunch reform. I spent over a year in my own city spearheading an effort to change the school lunch program in my son’s district. We brought the film Two Angry Moms to our city. Then we went back to home schooling for a year and my efforts on that project stopped. Since then, even with the efforts of other parents, nothing has changed. Now my son attends a public charter school and there is no lunch program. I’m a co-chair of our lunch committee and we’ve spent our time on various measures to help the families of our school be more aware of sending healthy, nutrient-dense foods with their children for lunch. Last fall, we had two holistic health counselors come and give classes for the parents to help teach them some simple ways to prepare nutritious foods that will give their kids the support they need while growing and learning.

I see some of the obstacles to improving school lunch (besides the huge piles of government bureaucracy about funds and “standards” created by the USDA about fat content) being the fact that most of the staff in the schools are incredibly rigid about the changes Jamie wants to make. They have done things a certain way for so long, they just don’t want to make the needed changes – whether it’s because it takes to long to prepare something or it’s just something they are completely unfamiliar with how to prepare.

I have to say, cooking has always been a challenge for me. I’m still nowhere as proficient at it as I’d like to be and feel like a total novice. And yet, I prepare just about everything in our house from scratch that I possibly can. I’m certainly no master at traditional foods like fermenting or culturing vegetables or sourdough breads, and I’m not great at trying new recipes or procedures that are new to me. But I still make all our meals from scratch.

As one example, we’ve started making all our beans from scratch by soaking them at least overnight (sometimes longer) in filtered water and apple cider vinegar, and then cooking them and adding lard to make authentic, traditional refried beans. If you make large batches up at a time, you can freeze and use later. We also make all our stocks and bone broths from scratch. When I have enough raw milk,  I make my own home-made yogurt. With a little planning, practice, and preparation, anyone can do simple things like this to improve the food they eat for themselves and their families.

What can you do to improve the quality of your child’s school lunch program?

  • Get involved. Parents who make their voices heard cannot be ignored!
  • If your child attends a public school, send your child healthy lunches every day.
  • Use fresh, real ingredients and avoid processed, prepared, canned, and jarred foods. Use leftovers from last night’s dinner in a thermos or hot pack, send fresh meats, seafood, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, organ meats, whole milk yogurt, almond butter, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other whole foods
  • Go organic or sustainable, if possible.
  • Avoid processed, industrial meats, eggs, cheese, and fats like canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil (check labels). Do use traditional, healthy fats in your cooking and with your children’s meals like butter, lard, tallow, olive oil, and coconut oil.

How does healthy food support your child’s health?

Your child’s growing brain, nervous and immune systems, and whole body need nutrient-dense foods found in healthy fats and proteins to be successful in his or her future.

The USDA Food Pyramid recommends limiting calories and fats, and eat more grains. But this advice is actually counter to the foundations of health. Grains are not easily absorbed by the digestive tract, making the nutrients in these foods hard for the body to use. And, consumption of grains can actually lead to the loss of nutrients in the body (including the bones, where critical nutrients like minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron are stored).

Nutrients from fats and proteins are easily assimilated in the body and contain more of what children need for energy and growth, and foods containing fats are some of the most nutrient-dense available. Since fat is more nutrient dense and provides the necessary energy in the most efficient way, why are we not taught that these are the foods which are the most important foundational elements of our modern diets? People all over the world for thousands of years have eaten traditional fats for health and survival, and our children should too.

Vegetables are important for children, but they are seldom prepared in a way that can be most easily digested. Vegetables contain nutrients that should be accompanied by fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods for absoption, which is why serving salads with healthy fats like olive oil and vinegar or steamed vegetables with butter is so important, and makes them especially delicious.

Sign Jamie’s petition and join the revolution in your community!

Nourishing Our Children

Farm to School

Chef Ann Cooper

Fed Up With Lunch – The School Lunch Project

Chez Panisse Foundation – School Lunch Reform

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Raw Dairy Real Food Recipes

Current Events in Real Food and Sustainablity – What’s Going On?


I’d like to share some important and interesting destinations I’ve recently visited on the Internet relating to real food and food politics – of course, two subjects I am keenly interested in spreading around to my readers. Here we go!

The school lunch saga continues on. In this report on the New York Daily News site,  apparently even though programs have slashed calories (and along with it, grams of fat), school lunches are still unhealthy. Hmmm. I wonder why that is? They still aren’t getting it, are they? In one part of the article, one of the students remarks on how one of the foods appears to be so greasy, how could it be healthy? For so many years, people have associated grease with unhealthy properties, they can’t even tell the difference between unhealthy fats like shortening, margarine, and vegetable oils and real fats like butter and tallow. Marion Nestle, food author says that kids should be getting nutrients from real food – isn’t this what we’ve been saying all along? Why, why is it so hard to get this really quite simple point across? Oh wait, I forgot. Agribusiness companies and conglomerates wouldn’t hear of it…so we’re back to the drawing board.  :(

And here’s another maddening school lunch story – Sodexo, a supplier of processed foods to schools, has been pocketing rebate checks from processed food companies like Kellogg’s and Pepperidge Farms instead of passing the money along to schools. Do the unethical acts ever end? Of course, we don’t like that they are supplying processed foods to schools, but this just adds insult to injury.

Because genetically-modified foods are a big problem in today’s world with respect to health and sustainability, The Millions Against Monsanto Campaign is an important movement to get involved in. Genetic-modification is something that big companies like Monsanto argue is necessary in order to keep up on being able to feed the growing population of the world. But did you know that genetic modification of seeds is done at the DNA (cellular) level and prevents crops from re-seeding year after year (and Monsanto will sue you if their seeds blow onto your land too)? There are many side-effects to GMO foods including widespread failure and destruction of healthy, heirloom crops and damage to human health. It is a threat to our entire food supply and future. Becoming acquainted with what you can do to help stop this destructive process, boycott GMO foods and contact your local congressperson to let him or her know how you feel about GMOs and how they impact our health and the planet.

Last week I wrote two in-depth articles on the subject of raw milk – The Truth About Raw Milk, Part I and Part II, which have been circulating around the Internet and getting some good commentary. If you don’t know much about the importance and health benefits of real raw milk, give this subject a few minutes of your time today. This is another subject I feel very strongly about, and I’d like to point you in the direction of Mark McAfee’s (of Organic Pastures) interview on Sickly Cat about raw milk if you haven’t already seen it. It’s fantastic and really helps to answer some of the many questions people have about this hot topic.

Are you in favor of organic fertilizer or toxic sludge used to grow foods? In San Francisco, mayor Gavin Newsom is encouraging farmers, schools, and homeowners to use wastewater sewage for fertilizing produce. Come on San Francisco, I thought you were more progressive than that! Follow the link at the top of the Organic Consumers’ Association to the Peter Collins Radio Show for the latest on this development.

CHOW has this great article about whole animal buying - advise about purchasing large portions of meat directly from farmers or ranchers, and ideas for splitting it up with family or friends. I highly recommend buying meat this way – it creates less waste and you can save money on many fronts – by knowing your farmer and the practices they use, and being able to avoid supporting big agricultural outfits that produce unhealthy meats/meat products and harming the environment.

You’ve probably heard about the new USDA Dietary Guidelines that have recently been released? There are some really good articles available critiquing this subject. Kimberly Hartke who manages Hartke is Online! has this informative piece, Government has Failed to Halt Epidemic of Obesity and Diabetes. Also, David Augenstein’s fantastic new site, The Journal of Living Food & Healing has this great article – Scientists Claim: USDA Diet Guidelines Cause Obesity, Heart Disease, and Diabetes.

Mother Earth News, a great publication with a vast variety of topics shows you how to garden in small spaces, something that’s useful for many people who don’t have big pieces of land at their disposal for farming. Also, I liked this story on sustainable poultry management too, for those of you who are venturing into raising your own chickens and eggs.

Even though I’m not supposed to, we’ve been eating pancakes for the last two days at breakfast – along with some other great things too like chorizo omelets and bacon and eggs. Yum! I do much better if I eat my grains very sparingly and eat them properly prepared – as in, sprouted, soaked, or fermented. Something I still haven’t attempted yet is a good sourdough bread or other recipe, but my friend Diana at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa has this fabulous recipe (and is a fantastic cook too!) for sourdough blueberry pancakes, with all the steps and photos (she’s so good at that!) you need to get started. Don’t these look absolutely delicious???

Okay, here’s two posts with recipes I really liked. My friend Tara at Keep It Real has some great ideas for meal items that are naturally rich in probiotics, something we all need more of in our diets…and something fun, a soaked spice cake that is really delicious! She brought some over for us to try when we met at the health food store last week.

The Local Cook has a great book review on food preservation, something that I really want to learn how to do, but haven’t yet. I was going to start doing that this summer, but I’m still trying to find out whether my garden is actually going to produce enough to make it worth my while. And, two of my friends who normally can and that I was going to get together with to learn how to do this with aren’t doing gardens this year. Our weather was really weird and we had a long cold snap in the spring, which caused a lot of problems for many people with gardens this spring. But, we’ll see what happens. If not this year, next year for sure!

Who’s got carnivals?

I don’t, but I would love to get one going sometime soon. I’m always so busy I barely have time to get posts up, but in the meantime, here’s a list of really great blogs with great weekly carnivals you should check out!

  • Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop – my friend Alex Clark at A Moderate Life is hosting this great recipe carnival weekly now, and she gets a lot of contributions. So stop on over, contribute a recipe, and read some of her articles too. She has a great variety of things to read about – all connected to real food, nutrition, eco-friendly ideas, and sustainability.
  • Tuesday Twister my friend Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS has a lot of great information about real food, cooking, and recipes and her Tuesday carnival is a great way to share your own real food recipes. I love Wardeh’s informative style and her great ability to teach new things to people about real food!
  • Real Food Wednesdays – My friend Kelly the Kitchen Kop is one of the most well-known and visited food and nutrition sites in the world of food blogging. You will find a whole lot of great posts contributed on Wednesdays about food, nutrition, and all things to do with breaking the conventional molds of ideas about health and food.
  • Pennywise Platter Thursdays My friend Kimi’s site is one of the best for recipes and great sustainable food ideas that are nutrient-dense. Check out her thrifty carnival on Thursdays for some wonderful recipe ideas!
  • Fight Back Friday – My friend Kristen at Food Renegade, another great resource site for insight on real food, recipes, and food politilcs has a great carnival for real food each Friday, and is a wonderful site for information about nutrition, health, and food politics.

Have anything interesting to share? Please do!