Saturday, June 16, 2007

British school lunches

Today's cuppa: Linden and galangal tea

It's no wonder Jamie Oliver had kittens when he went into English school kitchens and saw what was being served up!

Last week's menu at my girls' school:

* Meatballs
* Pizza
* Shepherd's pie
* Breaded fish
* Tuna lasagne with garlic bread

It's an outstanding menu, apparently, compared to what Jamie saw in some schools: burgers, fries, turkey twizzlers...

At my girls' school there's no vegetarian/vegan option on the menu ~ whether that's because this is a farming community, or because only skinny celebrities are vegetarians, I'm not sure. Those children who don't eat meat will be left with overcooked cabbage, mashed potato or chips with tomato sauce. Eliza's teacher didn't even know what a vegan was. You'd think it was the 1960s.

Even if there had been a meat-free option, I'd never let my children eat school food. A number of reasons exist for this:

. The poor quality of ingredients compared to their usual diet.
. Consciousness of the cooks (one of them stands outside the school smoking, and drinking coke).
. At home I know what's in the food. Meals are prepared from scratch ~ so no hidden ingredients.
. Authenticity of the kitchen workers ~ do they care about hygiene, food quality, etc. My husband is always shocked by how many men using public loos don't wash their hands. He's even seen food preparation workers avoid doing this most basic act of hygiene.
. My children's meals don't contain additives, preservatives, e-numbers, sugar or unhealthy fats.

Tuesday at school was healthy living day so the cook was making a special, healthy meal. A note was sent home to let parents know. Can you guess which one of the above meals was the healthy one? Tuna lasagne, of course! It's so obvious isn't it?

. Tuna ~ full of mercury.
. Cheese ~ to clog up the mucosal membranes and add unhealthy fats to a growing child's body ~ they'll be the adults who are dependant on the NHS because of sky-rocketing cholesterol. Unhealthy fats are one of the leading factors in skin cancer ~ the sun literally cooking them on the skin. This doesn't happen with natural oils like flaxseed, hemp, nuts, olive and avocado if consumed in their raw state.
. Wheat ~ a common allergen. It isn't designed to be consumed by the human body. People who are conscious of what they eat and how it affects them will notice how quickly wheat drains their energy. Why would we feed this to children in the middle of a school day?
. Garlic bread ~ in case they didn't get enough wheat in the lasagne they can also have some garlic bread because we all know white bread is so nutritious. That's silly, of course, because white, processed products have a deleterious effect on the body stripping us of nutrients.
. Spread for garlic bread ~ add a bit of butter or margarine for another dose of unhealthy fat. The garlic is probably processed powdered stuff, rather than freshly crushed, because most children probably wouldn't touch fresh garlic.

The children whose parents think the above menu is great will be eating similar, or worse, at home. No conscious parent would find such food acceptable on a daily basis.

How on earth is a human supposed to thrive on such a diet? Where are the enzymes, the 'light' electrons, the living nutrients? Why are we ~ as a culture ~ feeding our children dead food? Is it because we've become deadened ourselves and can't be bothered to honour the needs of a growing body?

Fortunately my girls know enough about nutrition to see that the school's attitude to food is inadequate at best. It's rather telling that for those children who don't eat the cooked school lunches, their lunch is called sandwich time. Why not say "time for home lunches"? Why presume every child lives off bread? Because it's the norm… Just about every child at the school with a packed lunch does eat bread. Sure, it's quick and easy to make, and doesn't take much thought or preparation, but is that a good enough reason to give that to a child day after day?

Why not try the following?

Vegetable crudités and hommous
Stuffed vine leaves
Tofu, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber chunks
Quinoa with apple and walnut salad
Mango and chickpea curry with amaranth
Basmati with lime and coriander
Home-made carrot and ginger soup in a mini-flask
Lentil, tofu and sweet corn rissoles (made with rice crumbs, not wheat ~ and baked, not fried)
Carrot and cucumber sticks with apricot and chickpea dip
Rice crackers and tofu cream cheese with assorted raw vegetables
Fresh fruit smoothie

We went to the school's summer fare the other day and I noticed a food poster in Eliza's classroom. It had the usual four food groups and one of them was labelled 'meat and alternatives'. Why should other proteins be considered alternative when for most of the world's population they are staples? Haven't we moved on at all, as a species, to know that protein isn't obtainable from meat alone? What ever happened to quinoa [contains all 8 amino acids], tofu, leafy greens, nuts, beans, tahini (sesame spread), pulses, beansprouts?

Food is a vibrational medicine. It literally nourishes every cell of our being ~ mind, body and soul. We simply can't expect to raise our consciousness if we're regularly consuming 'consciousness-numbing' food. Most people are on a standard processed diet and are committing slow suicide simply by ingesting dead foods on a regular basis.

We all have a choice. No-one forces us to eat dead, processed food. We put it in there all by ourselves. This next generation is dependant on us to set a good example. That means we have to step out laziness, cultural norms and habit ~ and reach for optimal nutrition. It includes taking the time to eat as a family, away from the tv; and sitting down together and being grateful for the food we're about to eat.

Humanity has been breaking bread together for millions of years. Our cultural consumption of food taken in isolation, and without mindfulness, is a new phenomenon. The consequences are dire.


Harmonious Living said...

This is a brill sharing, thankyou. I am delighted to be back in touch with your blog, it didnt seem to be up for a bit, and I just looked in. so catching up!
I endorse everything you say re the food issue.
Bless you for blossoming girls who KNOW and will give their children the KNOWING.
Brilliant. thankyou. xxx

Eva said...

Veronika, your latest post sparked a thought in my head. Although I am trying my best to fee dmy 14month old conciously I have no creativity when it comes to receipes? Which gave me an idea to share with you. If of course you can find the time I think it would be awesome if you could share some of your receipes- I for one would be sure to try them out and put healthy things at the family table. Hope all is well. And I love the pix of your girls. their lunches look YUMMY!

Veronika said...

hi Eva ~ I've had a number of emails regarding recipes/ideas... when i've cleared a few of my writing projects I'll put together a booklet :-)
love, Veronika