Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
The brown paper bag and plastic sandwich bag are becoming endangered species in some school cafeterias.
In an effort to protect the planet and cut spending on garbage-hauling, certain schools are asking parents to send lunches that include only reusable materials, such as Tupperware, cloth lunch bags, and aluminum water bottles, The New York Times reports.
Opinions about the new rules are mixed, the story said:
The trend makes the schools happy (much less garbage). It makes the stores happy (higher back-to-school spending). It even makes the students happy (green feels good).
Who’s not happy? The parents (what to do when the Tupperware runs out?).
The story quotes Julie Corbett of Oakland, Calif., a mom whose daughters attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. Faced with peer pressure to be green, her girls want to adhere to the rules. But Corbett isn’t as enthusiastic:
[She says] plasticware can be a pain to clean, and is not cheap. When she thinks it is likely that her daughters will lose the containers — if, for instance, they’re going on a field trip — she uses waxed-paper sleeves, like the kind bakeries use for cookies, to hold sandwiches instead.
“It’s still a no-no because you’re still having to throw that away, but it is biodegradable, it does compost, so you’re not as guilty,” she said.
What do you think? Is it fair for schools to ask parents to send environmentally friendly lunches?
(image via: http://www.atlantaintownpaper.com)
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Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Colorado, the least obese state in the nation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is leading the way in the back-to-scratch movement, in which school cafeterias serve real, fresh food instead of processed, fat-and-salt laden meals. The New York Times reports on Greeley, Co., a mid-sized city that is breaking the stereotype of only wealthy school districts offering fresh food; sixty percent of Greeley’s students qualify for free or reduced-price meals:
Greeley’s schools will be cooking from scratch about 75 percent of the time on the opening day, with a goal of reaching 100 percent by this time next year, when ovens and dough mixers for whole wheat pizza crust will be up and running. But already, the number of ingredients in an average meal — not to mention the ones that sound like they came from chemistry class — is plummeting.
Consider the bean burrito: last year, in arriving from the factory wrapped in cellophane, each one had more than 35 ingredients, including things like potassium citrate and zinc oxide. This year: 12, including real cheddar cheese. Italian salad dressing went from 19 ingredients to 9, with sodium reduced by almost three-fourths and sugar — the fourth ingredient in the factory blend — eliminated entirely.
Greeley’s cafeteria staff is preparing for the changes with a week-long “boot camp” in which forgotten kitchen skills, nutritional guidelines, and food safety procedures will be taught. But the model may not be replicable in many school districts, a fact that concerns experts who observe the American obesity epidemic. From the Times:
Nutrition experts say that many school systems around the nation, however much they might want to improve the food they serve, have been profoundly distracted by years of budget cuts and constriction. Many face structural problems, too. Some newer schools have tiny kitchens designed for only reheating premade meals, while some older schools have outdated electrical wiring that cannot handle modern equipment. Many districts, and their lawyers, have also grown fearful of handling and cooking raw meat, as food-borne illnesses like E. coli have made headlines.
(image via: http://blog.centralrestaurant.com)
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