Monday, April 2, 2012

choosing processed (or not)

food list
breakfast: fruit leather, apple, pretzels
lunch: coffee, crackers, monterrey jack cheese, pink lemonade, a cupcake (it was a birthday celebration!)
dinner: whole wheat pasta, peas and corn
snack: soy chicken nuggets

origin of an item
most of my food today came from aldi's. i've come to understand aldi as the lower-income version of trader joe's... which means that most people who live in my neighborhood can afford to shop for food at the same place. i'm grateful for a grocery store that is a block and a half from my house, and i'm grateful too that i see my neighbors when i get my food.

this morning on my drive into school, i heard this story about school lunches on npr. what the written article doesn't say that the audio includes is a conversation about what processed food is. the parents are arguing that school lunches are too processed, and they point to ingredients in burgers that they cannot pronounce. in response, a food scientist reminds the listener that the fact that the burgers are processed is not really the problem. lots of foods are processed. this same food scientist points out that pasta is a processed food--we don't eat raw grain. 

so, today i lots of processed food, both good and bad.
good: fruit leather, pretzels, crackers, cheese, whole wheat pasta
bad: cupcake!

the article/report also talks about not so good processed foods. one of the kids interviewed for the story says that she loves cheetos. that's not food at all. i wonder how far my cupcake is from being a cheeto--what are the chemicals that differentiate them?

as i was listening to this story, i thought about how important it is to have a choice about what we eat and that those choices need to include a healthy option. look, i get that maybe these burgers aren't healthy (there's some ambiguity in the report and i'm not a food scientist). and this is the real problem with the school lunches--choice. do the kids have access to healthy food? (one of the women interviewed in the story says that her kitchen offers healthy food too). that healthy food has to be affordable--the choice has to be realistic. one of the schools that has switched to real beef (and other good things) noted that they had to raise the price of their food by about 40 cents. 40 cents?! that's $2.00 more for lunch each week ... which maybe doesn't seem like much, but what about students who have limited income? i wanted the report to address whether students and their families were able to afford the healthier food, and i wanted the answer to be yes. 

healthy, real food is good, as long as its affordable and available. and there needs to be an option to not choose healthy food every once in a while... because cupcakes are delicious!

the bread is pure and fresh,
the water cool and clear.
lord of all life, be with us.
lord of all life, be near.
(an african blessing)

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