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It's time to fix school lunches

In 1946, when President Truman signed the School Lunch Act, he said, “In the long view, no nation is healthier than its children, or more prosperous than its farmers.” If that was a statement of purpose rather than merely a rhetorical flourish, then the School Lunch Act has failed.

Today in America we have steadily rising rates of childhood obesity, and if you were born after 2000, you have a startling one-in-three chance of developing early-onset diabetes. Meanwhile America now has more prisoners than farmers, and among those few remaining farmers the average age is 57.1 and rising. The equation becomes quite simple to understand: No farmers equals no food.

In an effort to raise awareness and rally support behind changes to the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, Slow Food USA has created the Time for Lunch campaign. This campaign is calling on Congress to provide the resources schools need to serve real food for lunch. Those involved in making the day-to-day dietary decisions for our children do not have the adequate resources to provide healthy, nutritious, and yes, tasty food for our kids. This must change. It’s time to invest in children’s health, protect against food that puts children at risk and teach children healthy habits that will last through life.

All the talk in Washington right now is on health care reform, and that’s a good thing. But no matter what solutions they craft to meet America’s health care needs, their system will be bankrupted by skyrocketing rates of preventable illnesses that began when we started using our schools as a dumping ground for agribusiness surplus and as a proving ground for corporate marketing to our children. With the red herring of providing the “freedom to choose,” the conglomerates who peddle edible food-like substances have weaseled their way into what is, for many children, the most important (indeed sometimes only) meal of the day: lunch. They tell us the kids should be allowed to choose between a salad and a Twinkie, milk and Coke. And schools fall for this because their resources are constantly being cut, and the junk food pushers offer a cheap and easy way out.

Under the National School Lunch Program, the USDA reimburses schools for every meal served: $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. Since these reimbursements must also pay for labor, equipment and overhead costs, schools are left with only $1.00 to spend on food. How can schools be expected to feed our children and protect their health with only a dollar a day? It’s time to build a strong foundation for our children’s health by raising the reimbursement rate to $3.57.

That amounts to an increase of $5.4 billion over an academic year. Serious money to be sure, but when obesity-related healthcare costs are $147 billion annually, it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with an extra buck a day for our children.

Senator Harkin and Congresswoman Woolsey are to be commended for their efforts in this area. Their Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009 will put a stop to food companies profiting from selling obesity to our kids. We need more though. We must fund grants for Farm to School programs and school gardens, simultaneously improving local economies, supporting local farms, and raising our children’s awareness of where food comes from and why it’s important.

We can even create jobs by training unemployed and underemployed Americans to be the teachers, farmers, cooks and administrators that our school cafeterias need. President Obama has called for an end to childhood hunger by 2015; let’s answer that call by putting Americans to work building and working in school kitchens nationwide.

This Labor Day you can help by joining or organizing an Eat-In, a National Day of Action being coordinated in communities all over the US. Details are at www.SlowFoodUSA.org/timeforlunch.

Aug 31, 2009
Devotay in General Topics

Breakfast in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City?

AND I had a tasty breakfast at the new Bluebird Diner 'round the corner from my place...

Decorah IA

'fraid i can't vouch for Rubaiyat, having not been there yet (though I will at the end of the month!)

I can tell you that I've not been disappointed with la Rana upon many visits. Most notable was a dinner they prepared for the Slow Food USA Ark Committee a couple years back - delicious, carefully crafted and almost all local (and this is the time of year for that). try to get one of the tables in the window for an intimate atmosphere.

And don;t forget to visit Seed Savers while you're in Decorah - they're gardens are at their height right now.

Peace,
kmf

Breakfast in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City?

I just noticed that no one here has mentioned Leaf Kitchen, corner of Gilbert and Kirkwood. All their food is tasty, but I especially like the buckwheat crepes with lime and brown sugar.

Had some challenges with the flooding, deserves everyone's support now.

Columbus, OH - Stan's Restaurant burns to ground

So sad, I hope no one was hurt. I used to go there in Jr. High when I "dated" (can you really date in 7th grade?) a girl from Westerville.

Via con queso, Stan's.

Peace,
kmf

Breakfast in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City?

Yep, breakfast and lunch only

By the way, for brunch don't miss Augusta in Oxford. The area's second restaurant from our influx of Katrina refugees, these guys have great comfort food with a cajun twist. yumyum.

k

Iowa City

None taken, we agree (except I don't eat much tofu).

Apr 11, 2008
Devotay in Great Plains

Iowa City

3 samarai has a relatively new chef & menu, both big improvements. There's a white tune app that's outa this world, and their ramen (yes, ramen) is amazing.

For sushi, as I think i mentioned somewhere above, I'm an Oyama guy. As for atmosphere, I'm a sucker for the giant fish tank at Takanami - could stare at it for hours. I find their sushi tasty too.

Apr 08, 2008
Devotay in Great Plains

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

I'm not looking for a tattle-tale, I'm trying to solve a problem. I had hoped for some help.

Also, I don't understand when you say "No organization, no matter how well intended, is worthy of such." It is not worthy of such a singleminded attack either, and my post was a defense, not flattery.

My intent is to get people to understand that the bad experience you had with your locals is not the norm (because it's not) and I hoped, evidently mistakenly, that you'd be willing to help me make Slow Food better rather than "turning away."

That's a shame. Sorry to hear it.

Apr 03, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Mary - as with cheesemonger, I hope you will specify the convivia in question so that I may bring these concerns to their attention. My goal in all this is to improve the whole situation - both the public perception and the internal workings of the organization, to the benefit of both.

Mar 30, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

True enough I suppose. Every organization has it's terminology that occasionally requires explanation. I suspect most people wondered about "locavore" before it got all the media play it's gotten recently.

All of this is just splitting semantic hairs though. Slow Food needs to do a better job of letting the public know about the good work it is doing, and in the meantime it'd be nice if the MSM and the bloggers didn't continually make that even harder than it already is.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Funny you should mention - Slow Food Marin actually has quite a few farmers as members.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Board membership? Pardon the mere point of order here, but are you referring to plain membership in the organization, or membership on it's board of directors?

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

"Insist"? No, it's simply a tradition and has meaning. However, SFUSA actually has discussed formally dumping that word, and many local CHAPTERS actually have, for precisely the reason you allude to.

And pedantic? No, that too is incorrect. Pedantic refers to a narrow focus on trivial matters. What Slow Food does is very broad, and is far from trivial.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Schlafly Bottleworks STL

Don't miss the sticky toffee pudding for dessert!

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Monger - would you tell me where? I'd like to bring it to the attention of the leadership at that convivium. I intend to fight this elitism thing within as well as without.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

It was sarcastic, and merely a reply to the similar comment made by Avalon.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Again, individuals - sure - but the org? Nope. And I'd blame the problems you had on WF more than SF

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

My point was only that snobs are everywhere, as are any other subset of society.

And as for the wine snob thing, I believe that like many other terms, when one is applying to one's self, it is acceptable; when applying it to other as Mr. Sterling did, it can easily be taken as a slight. Witness a very controversial word that starts with 'n'.

But it is not the one word - it is the total lack of understanding of what Slow Food does, and the misrepresentation of it in the popular media, that is bothering me and that I am attempting to correct.

Slow Food does great work, and does not need to be falsely condemned by journalists who didn't do their homework (And he's living in Slow Food's hometown now!)

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

China has been a particularly hard nut to crack (in a lot of ways!) but I believe you'll find out efforts in India, Africa and South America to be worthy.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

I forgot to mention that this morning I posted it to the Community Food Security listserv, which is very much of the type you inquired about. No responses from them yet though.

If there's another you could suggest, I'd welcome that.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Elitism is indeed a factor in the US, and there are snobs who are members of Slow Food (just as I suspect there are NASCAR fans who are snobs). But while you may think I doth protest too much, I am just sick and tired of the hard work that thousands of us put in every day trying to create a food system that is good, clean and fair get derided as nothing more than yuppie foodies stuffing their craws with foie gras.

And in the article you site, Petrini was actually condemning the very elitism that Sterling and others seem to see in him. Slow Food as an organization did a horrible job of handling that incident, and it cost us. That is one of the reasons that I refuse to let the MSM or the blogs frame the debate anymore at the risk of, as you put it, shouting too loud.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

McD execs apparently don't eat their own food, at least not much. Witness the fact that the inventor of the Egg McMuffin died this week at the ripe old age of 89. But it's also true that these execs don't make their money from the edible food-like substances they peddle. Most of the money the corporation makes come from the fact that they are the single largest holder of commercial real estate in the world.

But Avalon, you said:

\\I agree there are elements of elitism in the local/slow food movement. Inner city poor don't have access to country farmer's markets or CSAs and if they're working multiple jobs, don't have time to cook a fabulous three-course meal//

That food insecurity is obviously not a result of what Slow Food is doing, and meanwhile we work to mitigate it. Look to our efforts on Slow Food in Schools, Terra Madre, Urban Gardens, etc. etc. Note especially SFChicago's work to proliferate farmers' markets in its food-insecure neighborhoods.

And a Slow Food meal needn't be fancy, or 3 course, to be fabulous. Penne pomadoro takes 10 minutes to prepare, requires a total of 3 cooking skills (boil water, cut tomatoes & garlic, and saute), and makes a delightful, cheap, healthy dinner.

Slow Food is not fancy food, even if it can be when you want it to. If it is raised with care, prepared with passion and served with love then it is Slow Food.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

I've posted it many places. The most disagreement so far has come through ChefTalk:

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/profes...

I submitted it to Gristmill, where I expected vociferous opposition from commenters, and though they usually accept my submission on that blog, they did not this time. Dunno why.

It's also at Gather, eGullet, SlowFoodBlog, Treehugger, EdibleNation, and of course at the original post as well. Sadly Mr. Sterling has not responded.

Mar 29, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

Limster,

While I couldn't address sharkfin specifically, Slow Food works in over 100 countries to preserve endangered foods, food traditions and folkways. Perhaps the Foundation's Social Report can provide the info you seek:

http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/eng...

If not, c'mon back and I'll try to help some more.

Everybody else: Thanks so much for your support!

Peace,
kmf

Mar 28, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Wrongheaded Assault on Slow Food

The March, 2008 issue of [URL=http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/inde...] focuses on the overarching idea of localism and its relationship to sustainability. It is, as always, a beautiful and well-written issue, but in it one particular columnist, Bruce Sterling, has taken Slow Food to task accusing us once again of that old canard, elitism.

Now while it is true that the movement is often accused of such things, it is not an accurate accusation, nor is it always such a bad thing anyway. Bear in mind that most of the great social movements throughout history were begun by the so-called “elite,” (witness abolition and suffrage - not to mention that Ghandi was a well-to-do attorney). But the places Mr. Sterling gets it wrong are so manifold it’s hard to know where to start.

Let’s try here:

[QUOTE]The Cornish Pilchard. The Chilean Blue Egg Hen. The Cypriot Tsamarella and Bosnian Sack Cheese. You haven’t seen these foods at McDon­ald’s because they are strictly local rarities championed by Slow Food, the social movement founded to combat the proliferation of fast food. McDonald’s is a multinational corporation: it retails identical food products on the scale of billions, repeatedly, predictably, worldwide. Slow Food, the self-appointed anti-McDonald’s, is a “revolution” whose aim is a “new culture of food and life.”[/QUOTE

]

Actually you haven’t seen these foods at McDonald’s because McDonald’s sells hamburgers. Here Mr. Sterling has blundered by believing that who/what Slow Food is is somehow stagnant and monolithic. If such things were true then the US would still be a few puritan slave owners dotted up and down the east coast. Or the Chicago Cubs would have been the National League power for the last century. He goes on…More...

[QUOTE]Slow Food began as a jolly clique of leftist academics, entertainers, wine snobs, and pop stars, all friends of Ital­ian journalist and radio personality Carlo Petrini.[/QUOTE]

I’ve often wondered what it is about food and wine that makes those who appreciate it automatically labeled “snobs.” Wine is just fermented grape juice actually one of the simplest foods known to man. Appreciating quality is not snobbery. Pretending to know something one doesn’t actually understand - that’s snobbery. For some reason someone who appreciates the inner workings of a fine internal combustion engine is not a snob, but someone who likes a well made buerre blanc is.

[QUOTE]The group is the suave host for massive international food events in Torino. Other Slow Food emanations include a hotel, various nonprofit foundations, and—in a particularly significant development—a private college. The [URL=http://www.unisg.it/eng/index.php]Uni... of Gastronomic Sciences[/URL], founded in 2004, is the training ground for 200-plus international Slow Food myrmidons per year, who are taught to infiltrate farms, groceries, heritage tourism, restaurants, commercial consortia, hotel chains, catering companies, product promotion, journalism, and government. These areas are, of course, where Slow Food already lives.[/QUOTE

]

My, we are sinister, aren’t we? We are “suave,” and we are “infiltrating” a host of consortia and other institutions (notably journalism, after all, here I am) with our “myrmidons.” (Curious? Yeah, I had to look it up too - despite my apparent position in my ivory tower as an intellectual elite - it means “a follower who carries out orders without question.” Evidently now we’re a cult)

I’m not sure why Mr. Sterling considers these ideas to be so threatening, but the fact is Slow Food couldn’t care less what the McDonalds and Monsantos of the world do, until they start to crap where we live. In the meantime, we promote these ideas because we believe them to be good ideas worthy of proliferation and preservation. Food defines who we are as individuals and as cultures. We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. The right of ADM or Monsanto, Applebees or Burger King to swing its arms ends at the tip of the eater’s nose. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corportations.

[QUOTE]As the spiritual, political, and ideological wellspring of all things “eco-gastronomic,” Slow Food has woven a set of quiet understandings with the city of Torino, the region of Piedmont, the Italian Foreign Ministry, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.[/QUOTE]

Sir, due respect and setting aside your constant condescension for a moment, but there’s been nothing “quiet” about it. Logos for those government bodies and organizations are emblazoned on, for example, ALL the literature regarding the [URL=http://www.salonedelgusto.com/welcome... Del Gusto[/URL], (need proof? click that link) the largest food show of its kind, atracting 200,000 people each year. Oh, and yes, it’s in Italy. The organization was founded there, that’s why. Our last International Leaders’ Congress was held in Puebla, Mexico because preserving the foods and traditions of the so-called “developing” world is at the top of Slow Food’s mission list. We are not as exclusionary as you seem to think.

In regard to Slow Food’s Presidia project, he had this to say:

[QUOTE] The cleverest innovation to date is the network’s presidium system. The Slow Food “presidia” make up a grassroots bottom-up version of the European “Domain of Control” system, which requires, for instance, that true “champagnes” must come from the province of Champagne, while lesser fizzy brews are labeled mere “sparkling wines.” These presidia have made Slow Food the planetary paladin of local production. Slow Food deploys its convivia to serve as talent scouts for food rarities (such as Polish Mead, the Istrian Giant Ox, and the Tehuacan Amaranth). Candidate discoveries are passed to Slow Food’s International Ark Commission, which decides whether the foodstuff is worthy of inclusion. Its criteria are strict: (a) Is the product nonglobalized or, better yet, inherently nonglobalizable? (b) Is it artisanally made (so there’s no possibility of any industrial economies of scale)? (c) Is it high-quality (the consumer “wow” factor)? (d) Is it sustainably produced? (Not only is this politically pleasing, but it swiftly eliminates competition from most multinationals.) (e) Is this product likely to disappear from the planet otherwise? (Biodiversity must be served!)[/QUOTE

]

Sterling seems to think this is being done for our organization’s own aggrandizement, or perhaps even profit. Simply not so. it s being done because, as the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity do clearly states:

5% of European food product diversity has been lost since 1900

93% of American food product diversity has been lost in the same time period

33% of livestock varieties have disappeared or are near disappearing

30,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct in the last century, and one more is lost every six hours

The mission of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is to organize and fund projects that defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions.

We envision a new agricultural system that respects local cultural identities, the earth’s resources, sustainable animal husbandry, and the health of individual consumers.

And yes, Mr. Sterling, biodiversity MUST be served. Nature does not function without it and the industrialization and standardization of food and flavors is a direct threat to that diversity. For those who would like to know the true mission (and criteria) of the Foundation for Biodiversity and the Presidia Projects, please click [URL=http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/]he...].

[QUOTE]It is, among its many other roles, a potent promotion machine. Transforming local rarities into fodder for global gourmets is, of course, profitable. And although he’s no capitalist—the much honored Petrini is more justly described as a major cultural figure—he was among the first to realize that as an economic system globalization destroys certain valuable goods and services that rich people very much want to buy.[/QUOTE

]

There he goes again, thinking that there is some profit motive behind what we do, like our 501(c)3 status and clear and concise billing as an educational organization is just some sort of front for gluttonous Nobles Oblige rather that an honest attempt to help preserve flavors, traditions, and ways of life. Does he really believe that mankind’s only choices are get on board with the agribusiness oligarchs or get run over by them? We think not. We think it’s a good idea to try to preserve great food. We think there should be more than one kind of hamburger in the world. More than one flavor of beer. We believe foundations and traditions are important because they make us who we are.

He concludes:

[QUOTE] But while McDonald’s mechanically peddles burgers to the poor, Slow Food acculturates the planet’s wealthy to the gourmand quality of life long cherished by the European bon vivant. They have about as much in common as an aging shark and a networked swarm of piranhas.[/QUOTE]

Yes, McDonald’s does do that, as the overwhelming rates of obesity and diabetes among “the poor” (especially children) so clearly demonstrates. But far from reserving these “cherished” foods of the world for some elite class, Slow Food is working to proliferate them, and to return them to the artisans and yes, often peasants, from which they originated. we seek to make people aware of the connections between food and pleasure on the one hand, and awareness and responsibility on the other.

Mr. Sterling’s dismissal of Slow Food’s successful efforts as snobbery or elitism rings quite hollow on closer examination of what Slow Food is truly trying to do. I suggest, Mr. Sterling, that you read more, learn more, and perhaps visit Slow Food Nation this coming summer. There you may open your eyes to a food system we call “Good, clean, and fair.”

“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food,” Thoreau once wrote, “cannot be a glutton. He who does not, cannot be otherwise.”

Read Mr. Sterling’s entire article [URL=http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/stor...]

Mar 28, 2008
Devotay in Food Media & News

Iowa City

Also true at the DQ on Riverside Drive

Mar 19, 2008
Devotay in Great Plains

Iowa City

On a personal note, ya gotta give it up to IC. Here on Chowhound's midwest board, I searched back 10 pages and could find but 1 thread that had even 1/2 as many posts as this Iowa City thread. We got game.

Also just wanted to let everybody know that our new neighbors are moved in, up and running across the street. Stop into the Motley Cow Cafe for dinner and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Peace,
kmf

Feb 19, 2008
Devotay in Great Plains

Iowa City

I'm with ya - my favorite spot in IC for sushi as well.

Feb 12, 2008
Devotay in Great Plains

IA Caucus!

I'm going to Blackstone, and no.