My subscription to The Washington Post is really starting to pay off!
In yet another interesting health article, this one written by Chico Harlan, The Post covers school lunches in Japan and how they are far and away better than what we serve in the United States. Take the first paragraph for example:
In Japan, school lunch means a regular meal, not one that harms your health. The food is grown locally and almost never frozen. There’s no mystery in front of the meat. From time to time, parents even call up with an unusual question: Can they get the recipes?
Local, healthy food for growing children? What a concept!
For a basis of comparison, let’s look at what the article states is a common school lunch in the United States:
But even the healthiest choices are generally provided by large agri-food companies, cooked off site, frozen and then reheated, and forced to compete in cafeterias with all things fried, salty and sweet.
And then look at what a common school lunch in Japan consists of:
Schools in Japan, by contrast, give children the sort of food they’d get at home, not at a stadium. The meals are often made from scratch. They’re balanced but hearty, heavy on rice and vegetables, fish and soups. The meals haven’t changed much in four decades.
Now, I know the hardcore Paleoists will bristle at the sight of rice, but even keeping that in the equation, the nutritional value of Japanese lunches versus American lunches is through the roof. This alone could be a large reason why childhood and adolescent obesity in the United States has climbed over the past 30 years, while staying flat (and low) in Japan.
To me, this underscores the importance of making your child’s lunches at home. At that point, you control what goes into the lunch and you know how it has been prepared. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your child trading liver for a slice of pizza!
What are your thoughts on this? Do you pack lunches for your child(ren)? What could the United States do to improve school lunches? Leave your comments below and share with the community.