Friday, May 28, 2010

What's for Lunch: Turkey & Fingers

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

How do you like your turkey?

Lunch on Tuesday was this processed turkey luncheon meat, folded into a log, drizzled with a canned "gravy" that looked strangely like olive oil with pools of brown running through it. Like most of the food in D.C. schools, the turkey typically arrives frozen, usually from the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, MN, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods that bills itself as "one of the largest turkey processors and marketers in the world."

There's also a biscuit, serving as the grain in this meal, and the dark stuff in the upper right in the vegetable--spinach. You can pretty much count on the kids not eating that. "Nasty," as my daughter would say.

The turkey looks easy, but it does pose a problem. The only utensil the kids have to eat with is a plastic "spork," or combination spoon and fork. It doesn't cut meat.

One solution is the shovel method. Here you get the spork underneath a slice of the turkey meat, and quickly raise it up to your mouth and grab it with your teeth, as this 10-year-old girl is demonstrating. This takes good hand-eye-mouth coordination.

Another, more relaxed method is simply to tear with fingers and eat by hand. Another 10-year-old girl, seen here, was daintily pulling the turkey into pieces and raising it to her lips. I think I like this method better. She almost makes it look like the turkey is supposed to be eaten this way. The gravy does make a bit of a mess, though.


  1. Ohhh my gosh, that whole plate (minus the apple) looks gross to me! How can we expect our kids to have any sort of loving relationship with good food when we slop ugly portions of it on their trays?

    Ed- you might be interested in what Alton Brown has to say on the matter. I found this clip on another blog. Follow the link and under the video click on 'Peggy Introduces Alton Brown'.

  2. Surfed in here by way of another "School Lunch" blog and I'd have to say, this one is much worse thatn the previous! I am astonished by what they're feeding our children. I thought it sucked when I was a kid and I see it has made ZERO improvements. In fact, when I was in High School, it got no healthier, just more "fast-foody". It's such a shame. You should see what kids eat in Japan and France. You'd be so amazed.
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. Our school also uses processed turkey breast from Jenny-O. The label on our turkey breast lists the following ingredients: turkey breast meat, turkey broth, salt, modified food starch, sugar, sodium phosphates, flavoring. The gravy on ours comes from a can - Campbell's Brown Gravy. Here's the ingredient list: beef stock, wheat flour, vegetable oil, modified food starch, contains less than 2% of: salt, yeast extract, tomato paste, high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, flavoring (lactic acid), monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed soy protein, flavoring, hydrolyzed wheat gluten. A lot of schools use the same USDA commodity foods like these. We're trying to post the ingredients each day on our school's nutrition committee blog at