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Growing Up Gourmet: School Lunch Reform and Victory Gardens

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

School Lunch Reform and Victory Gardens

"Changing the food culture must begin with our children", writes Michael Pollan, in his article "Farmer In Chief", which appeared in Sunday's New York Times' Magazine.

Using his typical compelling and poignant prose, Pollan implores our future president-elect to direct his energies towards our nation's rapidly deteriorating food system. If the man sworn in next January heeds Pollan's advice, even the most pessimistic political and cultural cynics at the table will find hopeful promise in America's new food system - one that is based on sunshine.

In case you haven't got the time to read Pollan's latest manifesto (though I really suggest you do), here are two significant changes which would make it easy to be Growing Up Gourmet with Michael Pollan as Secretary of Agriculture.

Lunch will become a mandatory part of the school curriculum, from planting a seed and watching it grow, to creating, following, and preparing a recipe, and to enjoying a meal shared with friends and teachers. Coupled with endless teachable moments, countless math, science, reading, and social lessons, and a healthy portion of Superfoods, lunch will become the "Super-Class":

"On the premise that eating well is a critically important life skill, we need to teach all primary-school students the basics of growing and cooking food and then enjoying it at shared meals."

Children will visit the White House not only for the chance to see the Oval Office, but the opportunity to till the Presidential soil. After devoting five acres of White House lawn to an organic fruit and vegetable garden, Pollan hopes to redefine the way Americans view farming, quite literally from top-down. With reminders of Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden of 1943 that inspired 20 million home gardens and supplied 40% of the nation's produce (!!!):
"The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population... ...Making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community."

As the most basic aspect of human existence, and historically one which has created cultures and defined nations, food and it's supply is an issue every world leader must be discussing. Thank you, Mr. Pollan, for reminding us that our nation's security, health care, economy, and future depend on it.

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At October 15, 2008 at 4:12 AM , Blogger tanyaa said...

On April 16, 2008, NBC Nightly News aired a story called “Sticker Shock at the Supermarket.” Reporter Erin Burnett ominously described “the skyrocketing price of food” and its effect on Americans’ budgets. According to the report, the pain of rising food costs extends beyond the nuclear family to the nation’s school cafeterias. Eric Goldstein, who manages school lunches for 860,000 public school students in New York City, told Burnett that he can no longer afford fresh vegetables, seafood, and other nutritious items. “We used to have fresh spinach; we used to have corn on the cob,” Goldstein explained. “Now we’re having to look at lower priced alternatives.” Spinach (every child’s favorite) is disappearing from the lunch room, only to be replaced by chicken nuggets. The result, according to Goldstein: “I think the healthy diet is in jeopardy.”
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At October 15, 2008 at 11:23 AM , Blogger Lunchbox Obsessed said...

Incorporating farming/gardening and cooking with education is a perfect match. I wish it were used more often in teaching--somehow public schools at least in our area don't take advantage of what can be learned by having a class or school gardenening plot. Unfortunaly, I was not brought up gardening, but have enjoyed learning a bit more each year along with my kids. Perhaps I'll bring up the idea of a school gardening plot at our next PTA meeting...

At October 15, 2008 at 11:41 AM , Blogger Kitchen Kid said...

If you're a kid, nothing beats going outside in the middle of the school day to put your hands into dirt! With your PTA's support, and a little bakesale money, surely your school will consider the benefits of a school garden!


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