Sunday, April 25, 2010

Potpourri: School Food News Roundup

Is school food a threat to national security?

A group of retired military brass says too many of the nation's youth can't qualify to serve in the armed forces because they are overweight and they lay at least part of the blame on the lousy food served in schools. Weight problems are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected, the group says, and thus jeopardize the military's ability to fill its ranks.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans aged 17 t 24 are too fat to serve, the group says, and national security in the year 2030 is "absolutely dependent" on reversing childhood obesity.


Is there a revolution taking place in school food service? TIME magazine thinks so. Here's a pretty good piece giving the outlines of what's happening to school food and why advocates like Jamie Oliver are making a difference.


And you thought Raisin Bran was healthy breakfast food? Think again. Here's a list of the worst iconic breakfast cereals and some healthy alternatives. What makes these cereals so bad? Usually, it's the sugar. So why do we feed kids cereal with so much sugar? Oh, right. So they can pour strawberry-flavored milk over it.


Tip for the day: how to turn a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into something healthy.


Marion Nestle has a sneak preview of the pending new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Key recommendations: kids should consume less sugar and salt.


Be careful what your kids watch on TV. Despite claims to the contrary, corporate food interests are still pushing sugary, unhealthful foods on children through their mass-marketing. From a recent report in the New York Times:

"Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group, gave a grade of F to 95 of 128 food and entertainment companies for their policies — or lack thereof — on marketing to children. This despite the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative started in 2006 by the Better Business Bureau, in which 16 major food and restaurant companies, representing about 80 percent of television food advertising expenditures, announced they would not market foods to children under 12 if they did not meet the companies’ own nutritional standards.

"Unfortunately, there’s the rub. What a company like Kellogg’s regards as an acceptable amount of sugar in a serving of breakfast cereal may not be what a nutrition-wise parent would choose. The cutoff adopted by Kellogg’s is 12 grams (3 teaspoons of sugar), which would keep them from promoting Cocoa Krispies (14 grams of sugar in a one-cup serving) to children. But Frosted Flakes, with 11 grams, could still be advertised in venues where children 6 and older will see them. (The company does not aim advertising at children under 6.)"


Finally, Jamie Oliver really did have an impact on Huntington, W.VA., with his "Food Revolution" reality television show. According to a report in The Washington Post:

"The public schools have made permanent many of the celebrity chef's recommendations. By June, most of the processed food in the district schools will be gone, replaced by Oliver's from-scratch menus, which include dishes such as barbecued chicken and brown rice with carrots, raisins and orange dressing. (Spoiler alert: According to one local official, even Oliver's TV kitchen nemesis, Alice Gue, now "is the number-one proponent" of from-scratch cooking.)"

But on a sad note, the flavored milk that Oliver banned because of its sugar content is back.

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