School Lunches – American vs French

How US School Lunches Compare to French Ones

Over the next few years school lunches are getting “healthier” in the US thanks to first lady, Michelle Obama.  I use the word “healthier” loosely because I think the new changes are marginal.  I agree, french fries, pizza, etc. should not be part of a kids, (or anyone’s) lunch or dinner. Adding more whole grains is better, but unless they are GMO-free, they are still toxic.  The new guidelines include changing to low fat foods and dropping the calories. That is not the solution either.  In fact, lower fat/calorie diets cause children and adults to snack more on unhealthy, sugary foods.The most important thing is the quality of the food – simple and natural.

School Lunches in the US

I googled many pictures of school lunches in the US.   Some were healthier than others.  There was one common denominator in every picture – all the children were given a little carton of processed low-fat dairy milk. Giving a child highly processed milk, from cows fed a diet of GMO grains, growth hormones and antibiotics, is a travesty.

French School Lunches

Last week I came across an article by Rebeca Plantier, (I assume American), who was living in France and had her children in an elementary school.  She was doing research on why French kids weren’t fat.  The local city council gave her a tour of the public school’s cafeteria link. What her children were eating in the French school, differed vastly from the cuisine served to our young in the States.  She posted 5 days of school meals.  This is one of the pictures. Noticeably missing in any of the pictures was milk.  There was cheese and real butter, but no carton of milk. I thought, perhaps this school was exceptional.  So I googled more pictures and found pretty well the same thing. Better food, no milk.

Yes, the French love their fat. But if you have been paying attention to the latest health research, you know fat is not the enemy. Children will not get become obese eating good quality fat..  The idea that “fat is bad” was false information that guided American diets for over 30 years.  I am not sure if the French use GMO wheat, but I do know, like most of Europe, they will not import US beef with the growth hormones and antibiotics.  I didn’t see any processed foods in the pictures of French school lunches with the exception of the odd desert. The food was simple and unprocessed, just like this picture.

Kids Need Good Food at Home

I cannot tell you how many times I have been in supermarkets and almost stopped to chastise a parent for the crap in their grocery cart.  I have always (so far) stopped myself.  I highly doubt a stranger lecturing a parent in a grocery store will do any good.  So, I continue to keep my mouth shut. I came very closely to opening it not too long ago though. I was standing in line behind a young woman who was purchasing something at Target (not food). The back of her baby stroller was full of every kind of candy you can imagine.  I watched her, and what I presume was her mother, give the toddler piece after piece of it.

I wish America served better food in the schools.  On the other hand, a few bad meals a week will not destroy a child’s health.  But bad meals at school AND at home, will.  Parents, I know you are busy, but please feed your children good quality, natural food.

To your Health!

Peter Gillham

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