Friday, November 18, 2011

Old News: Moneyed Interests Talk, Politicians Balk

Margo Wootan is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). On Tuesday, she released this statement:
"It's a shame that Congress seems more interested in protecting industry than protecting children's health.

"At a time when child nutrition and childhood obesity are national health concerns, Congress should be supporting USDA and school efforts to serve healthier school meals, not undermining them. Together, the school lunch riders in the agriculture spending bill would protect industry's ability to keep pizza and French fries on school lunch trays every day of the week to the detriment of children's health."
Why? Because on Monday, according to an article in The New York Times:
"In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program.

"The proposed changes — the first in 15 years to the $11 billion school lunch program — were meant to reduce childhood obesity by adding more fruits and green vegetables to lunch menus, Agriculture Department officials said.

"The rules, proposed last January, would have cut the amount of potatoes served and would have changed the way schools received credit for serving vegetables by continuing to count tomato paste on a slice of pizza only if more than a quarter-cup of it was used. The rules would have also halved the amount of sodium in school meals over the next 10 years.

"But late Monday, lawmakers drafting a House and Senate compromise for the agriculture spending bill blocked the department from using money to carry out any of the proposed rules."
Even if you think Wootan and The Times are crazed, left-wing, occupying fanatics, let's say they are five percent correct in their above statements. Isn't that enough to warrant protest from us all, no matter our political leanings? Shouldn't our children's health trump adults' quest for ego, power and wealth?

With every kowtowing to the corporate gods by our elected politicians, my desire to run for Congress grows.


Matt said...

I don't know, I'm not a big fan of the proposed rules which were a kowtow to big ag as it is. They drop the saturated fat requirement to no more than 7% of the meal, which almost eliminates any semblance of real food. Milk is going to be cut to fat free or 1% max - I serve whole milk at home because it is unprocessed. There is nothing in the rules about reducing sugar or flour. There is nothing wrong inherently with potatoes, it's the rancid non-saturated fats they are fried (or laced with prior to freezing so they can be "baked") in that I'm most concerned with.

Anonymous said...

Really, my problem with potatoes is the triple whammy of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides they undergo getting from field to table, so I have heard. Organic potatoes are the way to go if you eat potatoes. Or serve potatoes. I doubt schools will spring for the cost of organic, so if kids get fewer potatoes at school, fine by me. It'll get made up for at home (sigh) I suppose.

Oni said...

Sweet potatoes if you're going to eat them, lower GI.

Chef Rob said...

Good comments everyone, thanks.

Matt, the elimination of serving whole milk in school drives me crazy, but the real conversation that needs to be had--which Anonymous alludes to--is how is the milk (or potatoes) we are serving our kids being procured? From cows (or soil) shot up with chemicals (hormones and antibiotics for the cows, fungicides for the potatoes)?

As I've said so many times before, we are having the wrong conversation about food and health in this country. Not all strawberries are good for us! Butter from grass-fed cows is very, very healthy! Yolks from eggs are necessary for complete nutrition and are only evil when they come from hens (shot up with antibiotics and fed GMO and pesticide-laden corn and soy) from factory egg-laying operations.