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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Coffee may really be good for you after all

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — janice m.


Over the years, stories and studies have sometimes praised coffee drinking and other times condemned it.

I’ve always believed that pretty much everything can be good or bad for you depending on how much you consume, how often you consume it, and probably a host of other factors I never cared enough to discover. I figure that if I spend all my time worrying about everything, I’ll be wasting a whole lot of my life that could be better spent enjoying the many and varied things the world has to offer. So when it comes to liquid refreshment, for example, I enjoy my morning coffee without worrying that it might be raising my “bad” cholesterol or blood pressure. I also drink tea — green, white, all kinds — though mostly during the winter. And if I lived there, I’d be one of the folks getting New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s panties in a bunch over the evil and hated sugar drinks, which I very occasionally consume.

I just don’t worry about it. One day, I’m going to die of something so I might as well enjoy  what time I have as best I can.

What does that have to do with coffee? Well, it turns out, according to a recent study, that my coffee drinking might actually be buying me a little more time to enjoy the other things in life.

Study finds java drinkers live longer

One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.

The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it’s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.

“Our study suggests that’s really not the case,” said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”

No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient — caffeine — didn’t play a role in the new study’s results.

It’s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.

Even in the new study, it first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day nudged up the chances of living longer.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

I drink about two cups of coffee a day and though the study indicates drinking more could further decrease my chance of dying at any particular age, I’m going to stick with the beverage I most enjoy for the bulk of my liquid intake — plain old room temperature water.

What about you?

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, how many 8-ounce cups a day?

Will this study tempt you to drink more?

And if you don’t drink coffee, will the results of this study tempt you to give it a try?


All things must pass…even your favorite restaurant

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Those who know me can tell you stories about my memory, or lack thereof. So you will understand how big a deal it is that, thirty-odd years later, I still remember the day my wife and I, as we drove from our apartment to visit my parents, noticed a new restaurant occupying a space that had sat empty for quite some time. As soon as we walked through the door, it was clear the place was not open yet, but a nice woman let us know opening day was but a few days away. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented us being there for day one, but on day two, we sat in a booth eagerly perusing a menu filled with dishes we’d never encountered before.

The restaurant was named Panda Palace and they specialized in Szechuan, Hunan, and Mandarin dishes rather than the Polynesian- and American-influenced stuff that passed for Chinese in greater Boston back then. Best of all, they cooked without using the flavor enhancer MSG, instead relying on fresh produce and meats to provide satisfying flavors. And satisfying they were.

As we learned that first day, the owners names were Sarah and Fred Lin. She was American, he Chinese. She ran the front of the house, he ran the kitchen.

The food was amazing. Seriously. The dish that stood out for me that day was Moo Shu Pork, a mixture of shredded vegetables, meat, and sauce served with four flour “pancakes.” Sarah brought the dish to our table and showed us how to wrap the filling in the pancakes. By the end of the meal, we were hooked. For the next two decades, we must have eaten there or ordered takeout from there at least once a week.

At some point, they opened a second location south of Boston. Sarah ran that one and Fred moved from the kitchen to the front of the house in “our” place. Thanks to the pictures on the front desk, we watched their three children grow from babies to teens to adults.

After my bypass operation a decade ago, our visits to the restaurant slowed, but never stopped. Chinese became a once-a-month treat instead of weekly fare. Still, every time we entered, Fred would greet us by name.

About a year ago, we stopped in and Fred was not there. Neither was he there the next time, nor, I realized, was Sonny, a waiter who’d been with the restaurant since day one. When we asked about him, we were told Fred was in Florida managing a new restaurant. Then we noticed the food was changing. The recipes seemed to be the same, but they didn’t taste quite the same. Sometimes the food was great, sometimes it was just, well, Chinese food you could get anywhere.

We eventually realized Fred was never going to return, and we felt a loss at not being able to say goodbye to him and Sarah. Still, even with the unevenness, we stuck with the place, though we noticed each time we went that it was never crowded anymore. Then, last month, our delivery was accompanied by a notice they were closing for a month to remodel and add a sushi bar.

We anticipated the reopening, which kept getting delayed thanks to the area’s famously we’ll-get-there-when-we-feel-like-it building and health inspectors. But it finally did re-open last week and last Friday, Martha and I stopped by for dinner and found some remodeling but, more important, all new faces. Clearly, the place had changed hands again.

It was Martha who thought to ask about MSG and it was a good thing she did. As we’ve aged, our intolerance for the stuff has increased to the point where eating MSG-laced food results in severe headaches. The waiter told us that, yes, all the food was cooked using MSG. To me, that meant they were using a lower quality of ingredients and relying on the MSG to boost the flavor. After being assured there was no MSG used in the sushi, we opted for that. It was okay, but these days, really good sushi is available in dozens of locations around here. What is no longer available is really good Szechuan, Hunan, and Mandarin food prepared without flavor enhancers.

It is a basic truth of life, perhaps the basic truth, that all things must pass. In our lives, we’ve lost family and friends, lovers, jobs, cars, clients — so many people and things. And now, Panda Palace.

I suppose we can console ourselves with the knowledge that somewhere out there must be another place that cooks great food without needing to resort to flavor enhancers. Now, we just have to find it.

Do you have a favorite restaurant or take-out place? If so, tell us about it.

And have you ever lost a favored place?


Uncle Sam subverts organic farming

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I’ve long held the opinion that very little government does actually makes our lives better. Quite the opposite. Whenever government sticks its nose into anything, quality goes down, cost goes up, and we have to deal with a whole passel of unintended consequences.

You might think something as basic and simple as organic food would be immune to government meddling. You might think organic food is food that is 100% as nature intended, with nothing added or subtracted. You might think that, but you’d be wrong, as John Sununu demonstrates in his column today, which is based on a New York Times article, also below.

Uncle Sam subverts organic farming

Once upon a time, all you needed to be an organic farmer in America was a pair of Birkenstocks and a commitment to keep your products chemical-free. Those idealistic days of the 1990s are long gone. Today, organic farming is a $30 billion industry dominated by Big Agriculture, backed up by Uncle Sam and a federal rulebook that gets longer every day.

In the halls of Congress, the rhetoric never changes: Vote against new regulations and you side with big business; support tough rules and side with the little guy. But history tells us that, far from restraining the power of big companies, an overbearing regulatory bureaucracy benefits them just about every time. Last month, the White House released e-mails detailing the deal it cut with PhRMA — the drug industry’s lobbying arm — to win support for Obamacare. And the size and market share of America’s biggest banks have only grown since the passage of Dodd-Frank banking regulations.

But if those examples hold too much partisan history for you, how about organic farming? As The New York Times reported recently, “the industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy.”

In 1997 the US Department of Agriculture first proposed a set of national standards for the industry. They became the law of the land in 2002. Today, the National Organic Standards Board keeps a list of 250 non-organic food additives that can be used under the “certified organic” label. That’s three times the number listed just 10 years ago. As the Soviets proved time and again, a good central committee can kill just about anything.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Did you catch that in the last paragraph above? The National Organic Standards Board allows “certified organic” food to contain one or more of 250 non-organic food additives! One wonders what they allow in non-certified organic food.

I had no idea there ever was a National Organic Standards Board, much less that it allows my “organic” food to be adulterated with who-knows-what?

Once again, government sticks it’s nose into something and royally messes it up. Is anyone surprised?

Here is the New York Times story Sununu references. You’ll want to read it all. It’s an eye-opener.

Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?

Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and “whole earth” grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food — or as he might have it, so-called organic food — has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.

Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Health Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup.

Over the last decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others — Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them — have gobbled up most of the nation’s organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore.

All of which riles Mr. Potter, 62. Which is why he took off in late May from here for Albuquerque, where the cardinals of the $30-billion-a-year organic food industry were meeting to decide which ingredients that didn’t exactly sound fresh from the farm should be blessed as allowed ingredients in “organic” products. Ingredients like carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickener with a somewhat controversial health record. Or synthetic inositol, which is manufactured using chemical processes.

Mr. Potter was allowed to voice his objections to carrageenan for three minutes before the group, the National Organic Standards Board.

“Someone said, ‘Thank you,’ ” Mr. Potter recalls.

And that was that.

Two days later, the board voted 10 to 5 to keep carrageenan on the growing list of nonorganic ingredients that can be used in products with the coveted “certified organic” label. To organic purists like Mr. Potter, it was just another sign that Big Food has co-opted — or perhaps corrupted — the organic food business.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Has any of the above changed your mind about spending more for “organic” food?

I know I’ll be looking for Eden Foods products as well ss those from the few other still-really-organic producers mentioned. And Whole Foods or not, I’ll be taking a much closer look at package labels from now on.

How about you?


More lunacy in the land of the left

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

It’s no secret that The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not-so-affectionately know to the relatively few libertarians and conservatives living here as The People’s Republic, has been for generations now, an ongoing experiment in socialism. The Democratic party controls state government and most city and town governments, which is why a bad idea like Romneycare got passed in 2005 and why it hasn’t been rescinded despite it’s failures, not the least of which are insurance rates that have doubled, tripled, and even worse for some folks.

Much in the news lately have been Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. For those who do not know, they are essentially welfare debit cards. Every month, the state reloads them with whatever “benefits” the welfare recipient is due and the person is then free to spend the welfare money however he or she wants.

Now, you might think that folks who are, ostensibly, so poor that they qualify for such benefits might be using the money they get to buy as much nutritious food as possible for themselves and their families. You might think a welfare system might, in fact, restrict the use of such benefits to things like milk and bread, chicken and beef,  vegetables and fruit, and so on. In some places, you’d be correct. But not here in The People’s Republic, where EBT benefits currently may be used for a wide range of purchases including getting tattoos, buying jewelry, guns, and booze, getting your nails done at a salon, on cruise ships, and in casinos and adult entertainment venues.

Stories abound of folks standing in a grocery checkout line behind someone whose purchase consists primarily of luxury items like lobster, filet mignon  and porterhouse steaks, and junk food, like snack cakes, chips, and soda and watching as they swipe their EBT card to pay for it all.

The reactive legislature here, thanks to a spate of embarrassing news stories about EBT abuse, has been trying to change the law to stop some of the abuse, but our governor, Deval Patrick, wants the folks who vote for him and his ilk to continue to be able to buy what they want, when they want it.

What will happen in the end? If things go as they usually do in our statehouse, they’ll likely “compromise” and ban use of the cards at casinos and strip joints, maybe even liquor stores, but I can’t imagine them restricting the purchase of luxury and junk food. Can’t make those reliable voters too angry, after all.

Quite a place, The People’s Republic, eh?

What can welfare benefits be used for where you live?


Your grandma’s banana bread is banned from schools, but Pop Tarts are okay?!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

It looks like the food wackos are at it again.

 When Cupcakes Are the Enemy of Schoolkids

Public school students in Maryland’s Montgomery County know they’d better not even think of holding a bake sale to raise money for the football team or math club. Selling sweets is outlawed during the school day, and officials make the rounds to ensure no illicit cupcakes are changing hands. “If a bake sale is going on, it’s reported to administration and it’s taken care of,” says Marla Caplon of the county’s food and nutrition services. “You can’t sell Girl Scout cookies, candy, cakes, any of that stuff.”

An innocent child is about to buy some cookies! Quick! Call the cops to arrest that fat and sugar pusher.

Montgomery is one of a growing number of school districts around the country that have in recent years declared the humble, beloved bake sale a threat to children. Schools in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Texas have regulations aimed at limiting bake sales to nutritious food. Massachusetts will soon join them. Beginning in August, it will prohibit fundraisers that sell non-nutritious foods in school, and take it one step further: Kids will no longer be allowed to hand out sugary cookies—or other treats deemed unhealthy—to classmates on their birthdays.

With so many overweight kids, it’s easy to see why schools want to discourage high-calorie snacks. Only, they sometimes have a funny idea of what “nutritious” means. New York City public schools prohibit students from selling unapproved home-baked goods, but allow some packaged, store-bought sweets that meet the schools’ restrictions on calories, sugar, salt, and fat. Under the rules, grandma’s fresh-from-the oven banana bread can be declared contraband, while some Kellogg (K) Pop Tarts are deemed wholesome. “You know what’s allowed? Junk food,” says Elizabeth Puccini, a filmmaker in Manhattan whose son is in first grade. “It’s a ridiculous regulation and should be overturned.”

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Yes, it’s those few-times-a-year bake sales that are making our kids fat. Not the sitting around with cellphones, video games, and jumbo bags of Doritos.

It’s the availability of Girl Scout cookies that is adding all those extra pounds, not the hours spent in front of a TV or computer screen while they eat two or three boxes of them at a time.

Here we have yet another example of society blaming everyone and everything except those actually responsible.

Guns kill people, not bad guys who pull the trigger.

Cigarettes jump out of the pack and land between people’s lips, then light themselves before forcing their victim to inhale.

And we all know that sugar and fat, especially the most-evil saturated fat, have joined forces in a conspiracy to destroy the health of Americans by sneaking into their mouths and forcing them to chew and swallow.

Does it never occur to these zealots that treating people like they are helpless idiots is what makes them helpless idiots? How did mankind manage to survive for so many centuries without a Federally approved food pyramid and busybodies standing ready to tell us what’s good for us?

As with evil, all it takes for stupidity and self-righteousness to flourish is for good people to do nothing.

Far too many of us have been doing nothing for a very long time. See what it got us?

What’s your take on this story?

Is banning bake sales and removing sweets from school cafeterias a good idea or not?

Are you thankful that government and other watchdogs stand ready to tell you how to live your life?


Truth in Toons: Battle of the Bulge Edition

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?








Killing two birds with one stone

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner – Jeffrey C. Anthony.


A Monday rerun from 2008.

If you’ve ever been shopping, you’ve heard the three little words every grocery clerk and cashier learns, and learns to hate, the first day on the job — paper or plastic.

I can’t imagine how many times a cashier or bagger has to say it every day. Just hearing it a few times as I’m standing in line drives me bonkers. But that’s not the reason for this rant.

Think of the waste all these bags entail. Think of the precious petroleum being wasted to make the plastic bags. Think of the trees being felled for the paper ones. And they all end up in landfills.

According to “experts,” our nation is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. Too many of us are too damn fat, myself included. But what to do about it?

Everyone has ideas —  taxing fattening foods;  raising gas prices so we’ll walk or bike instead of drive places; free gym memberships, as if any couch potato is going to haul his butt to the gym when there are so many Twinkies waiting to be consumed and TV shows to watch.

I have a better idea. And it will solve all the problems at once. We’ll slim down, save trees and oil, and open up more landfill space for last year’s no-longer-stylish stuff.

No more bags. It’s genius!

When you go to the store, all you are allowed to buy one thing at a time. Sure, you can still buy Ho Hos, but only one box at a time. Want more, walk out to your car, put it in the trunk, and walk back to buy another box. Folks will end up walking miles back and forth to their car for an average week’s shopping. And I’ll bet they buy the important stuff first, which means they may decide it’s not worth three more trips in and out for chips, ice cream, and soda.

Pounds will melt off. Cholesterol readings will plummet. Doctors will be playing golf three days a week instead of one. And you will never again have to see a two hundred pound, five foot-three person walking down the street in spandex!!

Yes, I know, I’ve lost it. But it was fun to think about.

Anyone have any similarly “great” ideas for slimming everyone down?


Want healthy children? Let your babies get dirty!

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

My daughter-in-law is pregnant with her first child and our first grandchild. She and our son, along with our daughter and her husband, have dinner with us every Thursday.

One of her favorite topics of conversation are her “crazy” friends who go to extraordinary lengths to shelter their children from everything, including germs. These moms and dads all seem to have been infected with severe cases of the “don’ts” — don’t feed your child this or that until she’s three; don’t let him crawl on unsterilized floors; and so on and on and on. Many of these edicts come straight from the children’s pediatricians while other cautions are found in books and on the Internet and are transferred from parent to parent like a plague.

The thing is, most of what passes for “best practices” in child-rearing today flies directly in the face of how generations of children were raised in the past, including my daughter-in-law and me. She thinks it’s all complete lunacy and I agree.

Certainly, neither of us advocate bringing a baby to the communicable diseases ward of a hospital. But I have, for years, and she has, since I’ve known her, pointed out that the huge increase in kids with food and other allergies and with breathing and other problems seems to track pretty consistently with the rise of the over-protectiveness with which new parents are instructed to raise their children.

We both contend that it is early exposure to germs and to a variety of foods that helps set the body’s immune response system and its ability to tolerate different foods.

When I was a kid, nobody in my neighborhood ever even heard of someone who was allergic to peanut butter. Perhaps that’s because most kids got their first taste of it before they even had teeth. Now, peanut butter is banned from many schools thanks to the number of kids who have a nut allergy.

I bring this up today because of a short article I read in today’s newspaper that indicates science is beginning to catch up with common sense when it comes to child-rearing.

Exposure to germs early may be helpful

For years, doctors and researchers have made a seemingly paradoxical observation: as people have grown up in cleaner and more sterile environments, allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases have increased. Now, an international team headed by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found support for this “hygiene hypothesis’’ and one possible biological explanation that could underlie the intriguing phenomenon.

The researchers used a simple experiment with laboratory mice to strip away many of the complexities that arise when trying to compare differences among human beings who happened to have been reared in different environments. In a paper published online Thursday in the journal Science, they report that exposure early in life to microbes had long-lasting effects on a subset of immune cells, almost as if those experiences were educating the immature immune system so that it protected against disease later on. Exposure as an adult did not have the same effect.

As far as we can tell, it’s a very critical opportunity in the earliest days of life,’’ said Dr. Richard Blumberg, chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and endoscopy at the Brigham, one of the leaders of the work.

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

I agree with Dr. Blumberg, but I’ll go him one better and say it’s critically important in the first years of life, not just the earliest days.

I let my kids taste almost everything when they were babies. Not spoonfuls, of course, but enough to coat the tip of a finger, a finger I did not sterilize before letting them lick or suck off whatever it was coated with. Maybe we were just lucky, or maybe we did the right thing, but neither of our kids ended up with any food allergies.

How were you raised, food- and germ-wise?

Do you agree or disagree that early exposure helps the body learn to tolerate and fight?

And are or were you a “germ Nazi” or a “let them eat dirt” parent?


Food police replace 4-year-old’s homemade school lunch with chicken nuggets

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

So, like a good parent, you pack a lunch for your picky eater. Into her lunchbox go a turkey and cheese sandwich, some potato chips, a banana for dessert, and some apple juice to wash it all down. Sounds like a darn good lunch to me. And it’s all stuff you know your daughter will actually eat.

But wait! You forgot to call the state food police to make sure it meets with their approval so when your child gets to school and her lunch is “inspected,” she’s told it’s not nutritious enough and is made to eat chicken nuggets from the cafeteria.


That is not a joke. Here’s the story out of North Carolina:

Preschooler’s Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria “Nuggets”
State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead

RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Have the folks in North Carolina caught the insanity that reigns in the Federal government?

A child can’t eat a fine, home-packed meal and is forced to eat nasty, reheated crap from the lunch line?

I’m desperately trying to make sense of this story but there simply is no sense to be found.

Why is the Federal government or the State of North Carolina mandating what kind of food anyone can eat, especially in a private business?

Did I miss that clause in the Constitution that gives the USDA or the Department of Health and Human Services power to tell kids, or anyone, what to eat?

When did we, the people, cede to government the power to override the ability of parents to feed their kids healthy food, or even junk food?

I’d very much like to know the name of  the government moron who thinks chicken nuggets are healthier than a turkey and cheese sandwich and a banana. That way, I could mock him her her personally. But as you’ll note at the end of the story, the government is stonewalling on the requests to identify the idiot.

What would the food cop have done if the child refused to eat the nuggets, force fed her? Arrested her? Fined her parents?

Is it better for a child to eat nothing than to eat a turkey and cheese sandwich?

Does this lunacy go on where you live?

What would your reaction be if you were the parent in this case?


Will the new school-food-police rules really make any difference?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

You may have heard that the federal food police have issued new standards for school lunches.

US school lunch program to serve healthier foods under new rules

ST. LOUIS – American schools will serve more of the good stuff – vegetables, fruits and whole grains – and less of the not-so-good – salt, fat and sugar – under new rules issued Wednesday, the first to significantly revamp the nation’s school lunch program in 15 years.

The rules, which will begin taking effect in July, require that any school receiving federal funds for breakfast and lunch make sweeping changes to its food lineup, an overhaul that health advocacy groups are calling a major step in the battle against childhood obesity.

The new rules “will greatly improve the nutrition quality of lunches and breakfasts,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, which also supported an earlier set of rules. “It’s a huge improvement. This is really a step forward from where most schools are today.”

School service directors Wednesday said they support them for the most part, praising the emphasis on fresh produce especially. But many acknowledged that they could present some challenges. For starters, some worry that students might turn up their noses at the new offerings.

“The food police approach doesn’t work,” said Michael Kanak, director of food services for the Parkway School District in Chesterfield, Mo. “You have to bring kids along to make them want to eat healthy.”

Kanak and others said they are concerned that the new requirements also could strain already overstretched budgets.

“It’s really going to get tight,” said Bridget Jordan, director of food services for the Clayton School District in St. Louis. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive.”

The new rules will double the daily servings of fruit and vegetables, restrict milk offerings to fat-free and low-fat varieties, limit calories based on age and increase the amount of whole grains, among other things.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

The fantasy is that kids will begin gobbling up all the healthy fare that’s placed on their trays and suddenly eschew the stuff they really like to eat and start shedding pounds by the ton.

Here is the reality.

My son manages a restaurant and catering operation which prepares and serves lunches for nine private schools. The schools, or more properly, the parents of the students, require the food be all-natural, organic, etc. and it is. The kids are served a wide variety of entrées along with the usual “healthy” side dishes of various vegetables, etc. While most of the meat-, cheese-, and starch-based entrées are generally consumed, the veggies invariably end up in the trash. This is true of all grades from elementary through high school. Parents pay well for food their kids toss out.

Changing what is served to kids in school is not going to make one iota of difference in terms of reducing obesity. All it will do is leave schools with a bunch of kids who are hungry and thinking about their stomachs when they should be thinking about their studies. Kids will simply load their backpacks with junk food. Then what? Will the food police start prohibiting kids from bringing food to school?

The simple fact is that kids will eat what kids want to eat and if you serve them adult-defined “healthy” fare they do not like, they will toss it and fill up with junk food after school. That was what happened when I was in school two generations ago, it’s what happened when my kids were in school one generation ago, and it’s what happens now.

The real reason so many people, young and old alike, are overweight is that we no longer burn off all the calories we eat. When I was young, me and all the kids I knew spend every free moment outside running around, playing ball and hide-and-seek, and otherwise having fun. Today, kids spend all their time texting, playing video games, and watching TV.

What we have are a bunch of frustrated “experts” who cannot legally force people to do their bidding at home (yet!), where it might make a difference, or in public (though they are seriously pushing for high taxes on food they disapprove of), so they pounce on something where they can force others to do as they, in their wisdom, think best.

What we really need is a whole lot less experts, a whole lot less rules, regulations, and laws, and a whole lot less government in general so folks, young and old, can live their lives as they see fit, even if the food police, the sex police, the clothes police, and the rest of society’s busybodies don’t approve.

What do you think?

Am I off-base here? Do we really need food police?

Do you think what kids eat in school with somehow magically change their eating habits outside of school?

Or is this just the latest example of government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong?



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