By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
This little box of apple juice started showing up recently in the cafeteria at my daughter's elementary school. Did you know a little half-cup serving of apple juice like this contains 12 grams of sugar, or three teaspoons? And that's from 100 percent apples, no sugar added.
Whole fruit, with fiber and other nutrients, is much healthier. But the calories in a small juice box like this--60--are a fairly cheap way for schools to meet the calorie requirements established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the subsidized school meal program. As a result, you often see a piece of fruit and juice being offered with the same meal. Meal standards proposed by the Institute of Medicine would lower the calorie requirements, and also make it harder to substitute fruits (or sugary fruit juices) for vegetables.
It's a tough question for healthy school food advocates: are all foods healthy by virtue of containing only the sugar nature endowed them with? Or should we be concerned with the way sugar is loaded onto kids' cafeteria trays in the guise of juice?
Note also that this juice is fortified with calcium, which may mitigate the concerns of those who fret that kids will crumble in a heap of osteoporosis because they can't have chocolate (or strawberry) milk at school any more.
And one further observation: on the back of this little juice box, it reads, "concentrate of U.S.A., Germany and China."
1 year ago