Photo by Judy Baxter

Food is full of so much more than nutrients or lack there of. It has become a hot topic, a confusing topic and a very big deal. This week I sat on a panel to discuss food in schools and at home. I was on the panel as a parent advocate for better food in schools in my district. Last year I became passionate about real food after being exposed to our nation’s industrial food growing ways while watching Food Inc. and even more enraged after viewing the documentary Two Angry Moms which highlights two mother’s crusade against school cafeteria food.

Here are a few of my recent insights:

  • I don’t hold all of the answers. I think that Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules” does.
  • The balance between eating well and enjoying life is a difficult one to gauge at times.
  • Packing lunch everyday is as boring as eating that packed lunch everyday. (Yes, this one is for the kids.)
  • A highlight for me from the panel discussion was when a local pediatrician discussed the school menu. Dr. Weinberg said that while most people talk about the long term effects of processed food, she could show the daily effects cafeteria food has on kids and began to point out different menu items declaring what ailments your child might come home with later that day after consuming that days main entree—from asthma from the shrimp poppers and tater tots to migraines from the french toast sticks with ham.
  • My pediatrician once told me not to stock ice cream in the freezer. I can attest to the true treat it was to actually take the kids out for a special ice cream dessert tonight. It was more than a treat. It was an outing. It was family time and I think most importantly, it turned eating into a mindful and enjoyable act. I did notice that the adult menu’s sundae serving size was 3 scoops and the milkshake contained 5 scoops.
  • Restaurants need to become accountable. My pediatrician once told me that eating out should be limited to once a MONTH. I think that is almost impossible to uphold. However, until restaurants begin reducing portion sizes back to true portions, we must help our children make good choices and we must follow suite. Take half the meal in a container to go before it is served, split entrees between family members, avoid the bread basket and explain the menu to your children—what does breaded mean, why the kid’s menu should be bypassed, how a healthy salad can be turned into a disaster if ordered with the dressing premixed.
  • The hardest part about packing lunches everyday is that those lunches must be cold. Yes I have thermoses. No they don’t seem to hold heat. If you have a thermos that actually keeps soup hot enough to see the steam please give a shout out!
  • Organic isn’t just about the lack of commercial pesticides or hormones or antibiotics. It is also an issue of eating food with higher nutrients from animals that have been treated more humanely.

These are just a few of the thoughts on my mind about food. There are so many more to contemplate. Here is a list of great food resources. Bon appetit!

A local journalist writes with insight in her blog Spoonfed about raising children to think about the food they eat.

J.M. Hirsch, the Associated Press food editor and author of my newest favorite cookbook High Flavor Low Labor, also writes a blog called Lunch Box Blues. Hirsch writes about his son’s bento box lunches. I am a huge fan of the the bento styled lunch boxes but could not get my son to buy into the cool concept. Too bad.

The rest of these links are being shared from the panel discussion. Educate, share and eat!

Blogs (many of these are also linked to a web site):

Lunch/wellness sites: