It’s that time of year again. Gettin’ up early, catching the bus, homework and field trips… Time for school!
Well, for some.
We homeschool, so I guess it doesn’t apply to us, but this post still does.
Even if you love your child’s school, chances are, their cafeteria options could use some work. School lunches are often full of processed foods, nasty GMO’s, empty calories, and lack variety. We public-schooled one year and most definitely went the route of the sack lunch. I realize that sounds a little snooty, but hear me out:
It is not the fault of the school, or the “Lunch Lady”. It’s the lack of proper funding. There is no priority given to the nutrition of our children! As long as they represent the “food pyramid” (which I honestly think is utter and complete crap) they are good to go. Don’t get me wrong…school lunches have come a LONG way from when I was in school. No more green hot dogs and fruit fly-laden fruit cocktail in heavy syrup. I’m glad they have made progress, but it doesn’t change the fact that our children are fed meat of horrible quality, pesticide coated produce, and for the kids receiving breakfast at school, LOADS of sugar to start their day. Maybe your school has a superb lunch, and I’m glad if that’s the case, but I assure you, not every school has it so good. Remember the “pink slime” controversy that restaurants and grocery stores faced? Guess who bought all that product once McDonalds and your neighborhood grocer vowed not to? Prisons and SCHOOL DISTRICTS. Granted, not all school districts purchased it, but the headline should have really read, “ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‘JUST SAY NO’ TO PINK SLIME.” Someone get Jamie Oliver on the phone!
As I said, maybe your district has a great food program. Again, I hope it does. You need to know, however, that there are many, many kids in this country eating utter and complete garbage at school. We cannot look at what they are eating and wonder why so many of our kids are diabetic, have high blood pressure, etc.
I looked up a menu from a local school district. Here is an actual example of the menu:
Chocolate chip muffin top (sugar, flour, chocolate…um, hellooooo sugar crash!)
banana (yes, its a fruit, however, its also a HUGE dose of sugar as well)
1% white milk (Pasteurized, homogonized milk which isn’t even full fat. Yes, I know you’ve been told that full fat milk is bad. Read more on that HERE. Also, dairy turns into sugar as it digests.)
The result? Kids who are completely crashing by the time math comes around.
Toasted cheese sandwich (very likely processed cheese)
Carrotteenies (What the hell?)
Spiced Apples (Because a fresh apple left alone just won’t do!)
Happy Birthday Cupcake (….*blink*…*blink*…)
Let’s take inventory of sugar here: bread, check. carrots, yep. spiced apples? Possibly. CUPCAKE!? There is no amount of cheese that can balance out the sugar reaction these kids are facing. It frustrates me terribly.
Even though my children eat lunch at home these days, my husband obviously doesn’t. If left to his own devices, his lunch would surely be full of processed foods, empty calories and would most certainly lack variety. Add in our dietary restrictions, and I’m sure he’d break every guideline I have set for him.
So, I pack his lunch.
Typically, when I order my CSA box, I make sure there are a couple of items that can be eaten on the go. Seasonal fruit, grape/or cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Today, his lunch looked a little something like this:
Two chicken salad sandwiches made with mustard, a bit of full fat sour cream, (conventional mayo has all kinds of nasty garbage in it, so I opted for the sour cream instead of making my own mayo), mustard, and diced jalapenos from my box – served on toasted gluten free flax bread. Two organic nectarines and an armenian cucumber, sliced, drizzled in lemon juice, and sprinkled with “real salt”. CSA items put to use? Nectarines, cukes, jalapenos! Not bad! I always keep him stocked up on things like nuts and seeds too, so he has other snacking options while he is working.
If I didn’t pack his lunch, I guarantee it would look more like a gas station corn dog.
When ordering your box, think ahead…how can you use it to supply your family with healthy lunches on the go? How can you preserve the items you receive to benefit you later? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Sack lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich, piece of fruit and carton or milk. It could be soup in a thermos, little bits of chicken, fruits and veggies in a bento box, or even a salad in a jar! Check these out from http://www.eatingbirdfood.com!
While I usually encourage you to love and nourish YOUR cake, please don’t forget to love and nourish the folks around you too. I realize that cost comes in to play for many people, and if anyone is sensitive to that, its ME. Trust me. When my kids were in school, they qualified for free lunch, and that doesn’t happen without reason. I was determined, however, to find a way to feed them quality food without breaking the bank. It IS possible, It’s not easy, but it can be done. You’d be surprised how much you can provide your family with when you cut out the pre-packaged foods marketed as “lunch box” food. Ditch the cheetoes, lunchables, capri-sun and pre-cut “apple dippers” and opt for taking a little more time to prep. You’ll spend LOADS less, and your children’s bodies will thank you.
Your corndog-less husband just might too.