School lunches these days are, frankly speaking, pitiful. Each food group is excruciatingly portioned until it just meets whatever regulation is in place. Recently, Michelle Obama pioneered a campaign to drastically overhaul the state of school food service and introduced a wide range of future limitations. Should be a good thing, right? Well, the free market is a funny thing. It’s like that angsty teen that kicks and screams when you tell it to clean its room. I’m now fairly convinced politicians don’t even consider outcomes of their voting policies. The new regulations threw out specifications like grams protein and carbohydrates for “meat and grain servings”. What’s more, changes forcing the issue of lower percent fat in meals resulted in an increase in caloric content of items (calories go up, % fat goes down). There’s more than one way to skin a breakfast burrito right? People seem to think providing kids with “real” foods, e.g. less refined, would simply cost too much to be sustainable. In response I began looking for pictures taken by students of their actual school lunches.
Here’s a taste of what the world is eating.
I think the Swedes take the cake on this one. That’s one of the few dishes I’d actually be happy to get thrown in front of me. There’s a lot to be taken from these though. For instance the entree of the French lunch is… French Fries? I mean, just because it’s named after you doesn’t mean you have to take it to heart. In the fruit category the Slovaks come in first with a Kiwi, an Apple, and a Tomato. Someone should applaud them. Rice is obviously the first choice for starch, with potatoes and noodles close behind. And then we have the American lunches. The only one of these with a soda clearly visible, nearly everything breaded, fried, and processed. I mean come on people, I’ve seen prisons feed their patrons healthier food. It doesn’t take a massive Jamie-Oliver-style effort or a draconian government to fix things, just some sensibility and a strong demand from parents. Google your school district, contact the Nutrition Services Director, and let them know what you think of their food. Despite being “nonprofit” they’re only checked every few years so they tend to keep as much profit as possible and then spend it on fancy new equipment. You know, to cook ¢20 burritos faster.
Be good to each other.