Friday, May 6, 2011

Food 101: “Tater Tots? At Prep Schools, Try Rutabaga Fries”

My memory of public school food centers on one starch-laden, nutrition-lacking, cheap meal: spaghetti with meat sauce, corn, garlic bread and some iceberg lettuce.

The spaghetti was white, the beef in the meat sauce was from a factory farm, the corn was waterlogged and flavorless, the garlic bread was white and the iceberg lettuce was waterlogged and flavorless.

Thankfully, those meals are passing into history as we realize the importance of properly feeding our kids. Despite financial constraints that handcuff food purchasing and kitchen staff hiring, public school lunches are improving, albeit slowly.

In a different universe are the meals being offered at some private schools, which are the subject of an article in today’s New York Times. While the lunches can be first-rate, or at least sound like it, (“seared pork loin pizzaiola and turkey-and-ricotta piadina with arugula”) the more important detail, I believe, is that food is again becoming part of our education.

Roughly two generations missed out on learning how food grows, how to cook and how nutrition and health are intertwined. Knowledge is power and once we understand some basics, our choices will improve. As more people learn the truth about our food supply—the big food companies do everything in their power to prevent this from happening—our food supply will change for the better very, very quickly.

While the article focuses on private schools, I’ve seen great things happening at inner-city public schools as well, including gardens employing captured rainwater and in-depth conversations about food marketing.

However, if anything justifies the price of private school, it’s the following project:
“A pig, killed in Vermont and wrapped in plastic, arrived on Thursday at the school, where students will cut it up in biology class, make head cheese, prosciutto and bacon, among other delicacies, in cooking class, and then eat them.”
Click and salivate here to read “Tater Tots? At Prep Schools, Try the Rutabaga Fries” from today’s New York Times.

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