Friday, February 25, 2005

Jamie's School Dinners

I've written a new article pointing out the modern food prejudices behind Jamie Oliver's new programme as he campaigns to improve school dinners. Yes, make food more interesting, but the health fears being promoted are just misplaced.

"Improving school dinners would be a good thing. Since the Tories started to cut back on the provision of school dinners in the 1980s, budgets and staffing have fallen, and catering companies have been reduced to providing lowest common denominator meals. They may not be adventurous or particularly nutritious, but at least the kids eat them.

But something else is going on, too: the dumbing down of eating. Rather than force children to try new things on the basis that we adults know what's good for them, kids are left to choose what they want. Inevitably, they go for the salt, sugar and fat every time. Some balance has to be struck between training taste buds - which is why 'eat your greens' is a meal-time mantra for most parents - and getting the little buggers to eat enough to stay healthy and active.

Oliver is entirely sold on the food values of our time. His campaign manifesto states: 'A lunchtime school dinner should give kids a third of their daily nutrition requirements. That's why it should be packed with not only fresh produce, but all the proteins, minerals and vitamins needed for health and growth. Diet also affects kids' behaviour, their physical and mental development, and their ability to learn - another good reason to ban the junk and go fresh and tasty.'

But there is little difference in nutrients between fresh and frozen food. Even the 'junk' food contains plenty of protein, minerals and vitamins. The suggestion that frozen chips don't contain vitamin C, for example, is just plain wrong - a portion of chips cooked from frozen has considerably more vitamin C and fibre than an apple."

Making a meal out of school dinners, spiked, 25 February 2005


At 2:06 PM, Steve Hensel said...

There is a big difference between cooking food that was frozen from fresh, and the processed, re-constituted food that is served in schools and many homes across the country. Yes you can get nutrition from frozen food and it is sometimes a necessity. However any man made, synthetic, processed food actually displace nutrition from our bodies. In other words it takes more nutrition to digest, absorb and assimilate, than it actually provides.


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