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Kids, School & Food

April 29, 2015

Does anyone remember when I was an advocate for local, seasonal foods? It seem like just yesterday that I was defending that it’s possible to eat locally and seasonally even upstate. And it’s true. You can.

It’s just that I seem to have given it up.

Part of the problem is that my CSA doesn’t kick in until the later part of spring. The other problem is that my farmers market attendance has been spotty at best. My cooking has slowed down dramatically, and we’re going out to eat more.

I thought it was bad when I took the kids out for McDonald’s twice in the same week. But yesterday, I ate at the golden arches twice in one day. At least this time I can put some of the blame on public schools.

Last night the local McDonald’s was hopping. That’s because it felt like the whole elementary school turned out to see their teachers behind the counter slinging burgers. I didn’t want to go. But I asked the kids if it meant a lot for them to attend, and they both said that it did.

I don’t like it when kids are used as sales and marketing vehicles. And I also don’t like it that schools feel the need to push these fundraisers in order to raise enough money to accomplish their goals. Not too long ago we bought $100 worth of chocolate we didn’t want so that the school could get a fraction of that money in return. Ordinarily we would have just written a donation, but they got the kid so pumped up about selling the stuff, there was no talking him down.

Schools engage in questionable food education programs all the time. The milk at elementary schools is notoriously bad. Young Master Fussy refuses to drink it. Opting for chocolate milk helps to mask the unpleasant flavor, but that adds sugar.

This was the same school that encouraged my kids to buy Sunny Delight in order to get a handful of free books.

Little Miss Fussy bought lunch yesterday, and it came with a little bag of graham crackers.

My fatherly lesson of the day was to suggest that we not think of these as crackers, but as cookies. Sure, they might be the world’s worst cookies, but they are sweet. How sweet? A small packet contains 5g of sugar. To demonstrate what this looks like, I took the grahams out of the package and put them on a small plate. Then I took out a teaspoon measure, and I explained that the graham cracker had more sugar than that entire volume of the teaspoon.

That was an eye opening experience for my daughter. The idea here wasn’t to vilify food. The idea is to just understand what you are eating and to make sure you are enjoying it for what it is. That way, you can make informed choices.

“But didn’t you say you ate at McDonald’s twice yesterday?”

Good catch. I did. The first time was for lunch. I was one of a few people locally invited to taste their new 1/3 pound sirloin burger. But that is another story.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura K. permalink
    April 29, 2015 2:22 pm

    My daughter’s school sent home a fundraiser letter that basically said, instead of asking your kids to sell candy bars or popcorn, we’re just asking you to send a donation if you can to help support the year-end picnic. I gratefully sent a check.

  2. April 29, 2015 2:33 pm

    For the winter CSA hiatus issue, I highly recommend a Field Goods subscription. They deliver throughout the winter, and offer a lot of local/small farm stuff that’s been fresh frozen then. My usual CSA, Soul Fire Farm, is taking a year off, so I’ll be year round with Field Goods this year. I like them – you can add or subtract fruit and veg, along with other items that I now find indispensable like full fat grassfed yogurt. So, even when Soul Fire is back up and delivering, I’ll keep getting stuff from Field Goods too.

  3. albanylandlord permalink
    April 30, 2015 1:19 am

    A second vote for Field Goods, Plus my pickup is at Fin which makes me go there once a week.

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