One year for Mother’s Day my oldest son gave me a hand-made card with a detailed mathematical breakdown of how many school lunches I put together over the years. It made me smile. And gasp. With four kids, the total came to more than 8,600 sack lunches with hundreds of apples, carrot sticks, sandwiches, yogurt, homemade granola bars and so on.
After watching the beginning of season #2 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I’m looking back with fondness on making all those thousands of sack lunches. Maybe not so much with fondness, but definitely with relief.
Last year Jamie’s reality series took place in Huntington, WV. This year he’s taking on the LA public school system and if the looks on the faces of the school bureaucrats he tried to meet with are any indication of what’s to come, Jamie better get some linebacker bodyguards to hang out with.
If you watched last week you know that Jamie blasted two major components of the LA public school lunch program – flavored milk and pink slime.
One cup of strawberry flavored milk contains 6 teaspoons of sugar. Not to mention dyes, additives, artificial flavors and gums. In a jaw-dropping demonstration, Jamie loaded a school bus with 57 tons of sugar (it was actually sand). That’s how much sugar kids in the LA school district consume each week in flavored milk alone.
Does anyone wonder why type 2 diabetes is being reported among children at such alarming rates? And obesity? For the record, I don’t think an occasional sweet treat is evil, but I do know that refined sugar enters the bloodstream quickly and can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. That doesn’t set the stage for effective learning or healthy cognitive development. There’s also evidence that artificial flavors and dyes can cause behavior problems, allergic reactions and food sensitivities.
On to part two of Jamie’s attack on the LA school sytem – pink slime. Artificially flavored, sugar-bomb milk is bad enough, but this stuff is over-the-top disgusting on so many levels. In another gag-inducing demo (just in case we might want the recipe) Jamie shows us how pink slime is made. Take the discarded bits, pieces and trimmed fat from the processing of meat (the parts normally used in pet food) and drench them in ammonia to get rid of the nasty pathogens. Once the ammonia has done its job (it’s called the kill-step), the pink slime is made into burgers for school lunches. Ammonia gets rid of the contamination in the meat (if you can call it meat). And get this, ammonia doesn’t have to be listed as an ingredient in burgers made from pink slime. According to the USDA, ammonia is not an ingredient, it’s part of the processing.
Sketchy logic if you ask me.
By the way, pink slime is really what this stuff is called. There are even industrial processors known for using the dregs of the meat packing industry to make pink slime for fast food burgers.
So, in addition to all the sugar and additives, kids also get a dose of ammonia and discarded meat sludge for lunch. Healthy building blocks for growing bodies? Not even close.
Jamie definitely his work cut out for him.
Okay, I’m stepping off my soap box to go throw up.
Peace, love and sack lunches.
For a detailed post I did several years ago on sugar, check here.
For kid-friendly lunch ideas, check with Kelly at the Spunky Coconut, Ali at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, or Alexa at Lexie’s Kitchen.