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Sep 21, 2005 02:54 PM

On what NOT to feed the chow pups

  • f

Great article in the Boston Globe today by the founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine.

How does your state stack up? I am horrified that "Uncrustables" (probably the most disgusting fast food ever invented) are an accapetable lunch for anyone, never mind endorded in school lunches?


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  1. Brilliant article - I love him and agree totally. As one who has totally changed my way of eating over the last year and half, I am now appalled at the ingredients I find listed on processed foods. I now avoid them like the plague, tho at times, find it unavoidable. I don't have kids, so thankfully I don't need to purchase those addictive convenience foods but being human, find myself on occassion reaching for them in times of need.

    Mind you, I'm NOT a health nut by any means! I still eat things which probably aren't good for me in the long run, but not as much of them and at least try and keep as close to natural as possible. That hunk of cheddar and some good quality bread certainly make a much better sandwich and really, how tough and time consuming is it to concoct a good grilled cheese anyway? Isn't food connected with love anyway? How much concern does one show for their loved ones by feeding them these throw-away items?

    Ok, I'll get off MY high-horse now LOL.

    Thanks for posting that article!

    1. Amazing, isn't it? I was recently discussing with my sister-in-law what kinds of healthy foods she fed her children when they were small. My mother-in-law turned to me and said "I don't know why you're making such a fuss. All you need to feed your daughter is hotdogs, french fries and chicken nuggets. That's all kids want to eat." Really? Guess who's bringing a cooler when we go to visit those grandparents? I have a strict no processed foods rule in my house. And organic wherever practical for our girl. Oy. I'll stop posting on Chowhound the day I buy chicken nugget shapes.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Dipsy

        Ugh I can't stand when I hear that!! Kids only eat nuggets because that's all they are fed. All kids go on binges but the worse thing a parent can do it is just stop offering other foods. I am a working mom and I still manage to avoid most processed foods and still manage to cook healthy alternatives. I posted what I make myself on another thread as back ups for a treat or when I am really busy or to make things easier on my husband. Things like homemade white meat chicken nuggets, homemade fish sticks, Nitrate free/whole wheat "pigs in a blanket", homemade mini pizza's using whole wheat dough and a variety of healthy (usually veggie) toppings.

        However I do recognize that I have the funds to do this. It IS more expensive to make chicken nuggets than to by them if you don't have a well stocked pantry. Nugget for nugget they are way cheaper but if I had to buy the cheese and the bread crumbs, the eggs and the chicken my grocery bill would higher than just a small pack of nuggets. It takes something like $25+ to make a roast chicken dinner with a starch, fresh veggies and milk for a family of 4 while it takes less than $10 to take them to McD's where they will actually get more food. You can see how if you were living paycheck to paycheck fast food/convenience food while more expensive in the longer run, would seem like a good option. Very sad.

        1. re: foodiex2

          It is sad... I eat at the work cafeteria most days simply because of convenience and I like to take a short lunch. One week I decided to make stuff for my lunches over the weekend. I spent $60 at the grocery store getting groceries to make lunches for a week, and that didn't even include things I already had at home, and that didn't include dinners! Usually, in the cafeteria, I would spend about $25 a week max. While we are not exactly on a budget, it still startled me! (And I didn't even go gourmet all the way!) I just couldn't help but wonder what people, who have less than I, do. Peanut butter every day I guess!

          1. re: Katie Nell

            Let's see.

            If I eat out everyday - 5 days a week. it will set me back close to $30-35 per week.

            If I pack a lunch, I am spending well under $10. And generally, I pack the following:

            1) Homemade chili or soup.
            2) Sliced bread.
            3) Fresh fruit and vegetable slices.
            4) On days when I don't have soup or chili, I can prepare a sandwich - salmon salad, salami, etc.

            I don't spend $60 a week on groceries for two of us in a week.

            1. re: jlawrence01

              If you are buying salmon then you are probably not spending $10 in total.
              I don't really see what your point was... I was just simply saying what I spent.

      2. "... public schools have abdicated their sacred role as guardians of our children's minds and bodies ..."

        What? I thought that the guardians of our children's minds and bodies was parents. When did they abdicate to schools?

        That said, I worked as a school librarian for a few months in Chicago and those lunches were pathetic, disgusting, and disposable. Poor kids.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Kimm

          I think that interpretation is taken slightly out of context when reading the whole article. My interpretation was that that they have abdicated their role as guardians to our children during the hours the children are in the care of the school.

          As parent my expectation is that any caregiver to a child needs to out their health and wealth being above all else. Feeding kids crap in order to meet budgets by either decreasing costs serving low quality/processed foods or by increasing revenue by selling advertising space on buses, signing deals with coke and the like is pathetic. This is one of the reasons my child/ren will not be attending the public schools in my town, even though I live it one of the top 10 school districts in Mass.

          1. re: foodiex2

            I too agree with the article and it was great to see this topic covered in the press. As part of my job, I am often visiting elementary schools in the Boston area. I agree, the meals they serve are awful. They come prepacked and by the time the arrive on the trays of the students they are soggy and tasteless. I have watched as children open up the little damp packages with disgust and push them aside. Often, these children are unable to afford other food and therefore do not eat during their lunch time.

            I think that the food being served in our public schools speaks to a bigger issue. What do we value? Schools are facing horrendously tight budgets while trying to meet increasingly strict standards. While I agree that the schools should be serving our children a quality meal, they are struggling. There is a reason they are selling advertising space (although I agree that it is an awful way to increase revenue). They simply don't have enough in their budget to do all that they need to do. That leads to cutting food, in arts programming, and by increasing class sizes. The food served at schools is a symptom of a much bigger issue.

            1. re: Fidget

              Thank you for making that very important point. Nothing is fixed by abandoning public schools. It seems to me that parents have more reason than the average person to be informed and active citizens in this country.

              1. re: Kimm

                I just want to say that, we have no children and are just as upset at the state of public schools as any parent.
                Academics, nutrition, and just plain public safety ( meaning healthy playgrounds and clean bathrooms) in American schools are a national disgrace.
                I remember what I experienced in public schools as a child, (in High School I campaigned for healthy foods in the cafeteria, we just wanted a salad bar and whole grains in the baked goods...) and what we were already being served wasn't that bad, and it was cooked on site.
                I think this article is a good wake-up possibly to many people who may not have kids, and therefore may not realize how bad things are for kids today. It disgusts me to think of anyone's children being offered some nasty reheated USDA surplus drek.
                We should be ashamed.
                ( since it isn't about food, don't even get me started on the whole trend towards private schools , vouchers, and abandonment of the public system by upwardly mobile parents who benefited from their own public education but are now loath to send their own kids to public school )

              2. re: Fidget

                Cutting arts, but gosh it seems like there is always money for athletics programs which serve a select handful. Go figure!

                1. re: MZG

                  Actually, in the Boston area, where the article was based, most schools have made deep cuts in the athletic programs, many sports have been eliminated completely, and almost all require participation fees to help cover the costs.

                  1. re: Two Forks

                    Agreed- I live in Melrose, just north of Boston, and the AAthletic fees at the High School are outrageous. They also have no buses available for teh high school kids. They all have to hoof it or get a ride- no matter how far from the school. They did away with the student parking while they are building a new middle school. Don't even get me started on food, fees or anything else in the schools :}

                    1. re: macca

                      Exactly. And while I honestly love "the arts", I don't think it is at all clear that they serve any more people than athletic programs do.
                      But, back to the chow, I thought Kimball's article, while using the pitiful school lunches as an example, also was a rant on the dumbing down of food tastes and quality in our society as a whole, not simply a plea for a better lunch program. Given that, if we were to improve school lunches, who pays? Heck, I used to bring my lunch.

                2. re: Fidget

                  Well, another option would be to, oh, I don't know, adequately fund the single most important public service that sets future generations up to be productive (in terms of producing even more future generations, as well as in being productive in an economic and political sense) that we have.

                  But that would just be silly, I suppose.

            2. I agree with Kimball's main points. School cafeterias, in the main, do serve awful food. But no one's forced to buy it. My daughter has been bringing nutritious and delicious lunches to school every day for years.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ld

                But for those who qualify for subsidized school lunches, and whose families may not be able to afford for them not to eat school lunches, there is little choice.