A Time article compares American school lunches with foreign counterparts.
I know that school, and school lunches, is something that’s farthest from our minds right now as we start July. But before we know it, our kids will be back in school come September. On average, “32 million schoolchildren nationwide eat school cafeteria lunch every day and take in more than half their calories at school” states Time in this article, Here’s What School Lunches Around the World Look Like, in February, 2015. Knowing that our gut bacteria is affected by what we eat, and that our brain is affected by these bugs should we not be looking a bit closer at what our children are eating for lunch every day at school?
The Time article looked at school lunches around the world based on what local governments require/accept as well as pictures that kids have posted of these lunches. I was amazed at all the different local cuisines that these kids are eating, and equally ashamed by what we consider food safe for children in this country. Packed, frozen, breaded, fat rich, nutrient depleted, sugar-like substance, fortified, and high calorie meals are what we feed our kids. Pizza gets counted as a vegetable because of the tomato sauce on it, fruit can be in syrup, and then we end that meal with a cookie. An unfortunate alternative is that we can feed them “chicken” nuggets, with tater tots, and pears in syrup for a nice colorless plate of white.
Our children’s health, brain development, and future are highly dependent on what we feed them, teach them, but also not the least bit important is what we show them. We are showing them it is ok to eat carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats at meals. That fruits and veggies being represented by high fructose corn syrup and pizza is somehow ok, or “normal.” I know it is not the cool thing for your kid to take their lunch to school, but for their health please pack them lunches that are rich in color, nutrient dense, and full of real foods.
Please note, as the article clearly states, that the pictures in the article are examples, and not exact photographs of lunches around the world; to that end I would be in heaven eating a dish like some of those foreign plate representations. I hope they’ll inspire you to think more creatively, even out of necessity, about your child’s nutrition. There really is a whole world of cuisine, most of it simple to make, out there that might be something your child will look forward to eating rather than the same old bologna sandwich and juice box combo that they routinely ignore for that tray of deep fried “chicken” bits.
Photo Credit: Ben+Sam (Flickr) (Creative Commons)