Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Try finding common sense in schools these days ... soon there will be no community there either
It’s been years since schools have allowed kids to share their food.
It’s just not safe, they say.
Too many kids with allergies, health conditions, cooties.
Don’t want to spread cooties in a year marked by Swine Flu.
I can understand that.
But it would seem as if the New York state Department of Health, if local televised news reports are to be believed, has issued some kind of recommendation that schools adopt policies to ban foods for mass consumption that haven’t been prepared in commercial kitchens or that aren’t packaged with FDA approved labels.
In short: The cupcakes grandma bakes from scratch for Ittybit’s class birthday party will be contraband if our school district jumps on the Play-it-Safe/Stupid bandwagon.
I suppose it makes sense if you are deluded enough to believe pre-packaged foods can keep us all safe from food-borne pathogens or have rock-solid evidence of potential allergens.
Of course one would think wisdom would trickle down to places purportedly purveying education. Not so, evidently.
One local school district -- *cough, Johnstown, cough* -- jumped on the Better Safe than Sorry bandwagon last month and banned homemade foods for class consumption, claiming that processed food was healthier for students with diabetes and allergies because the ingredients were known and the kitchens presumably are inspected.
I know I’ll sleep better knowing the kid with diabetes is eating a cupcake made in a Hostess laboratory and that the kid with peanut allergies can say an unequivocal "NO" to the Peanut M&M Cookie because "May Contain Peanuts" is clearly marked on the wrapper.
We like our eggs white ... white is pure.
We like our bread white. ... again, safe.
And we trust Big Business over Mom and Pop.
Of course, it doesn’t matter that independent testing of commercially made foods reveals rampant mislabeling. It doesn’t matter that most nutritionists think processed foods – packed with salt and additives – probably added to our obesity predicament. It doesn't matter that beef from factory farms has to be injected with ammonia to make it safe for human consumption, and even then claims of beef safety are overstated. Hamburger is still being served up in schools (by ladies wearing plastic gloves and puffy hair nets) all around the country.
BUT that Mom is shifty, I tell you. Can't trust her.
What seems clear enough is that legal ramification and not any genuine concern for the health or wellbeing of students is the real issue at stake.
What makes me believe this you ask?
First, news reports quote school officials as indicating homemade treats will still be allowed for sale at fundraising events where parents are present and off-site consumption is likely. (I suppose no one would dare cut into the profit margin for the senior class trip or the new cheerleading uniforms just for some pesky calorie count or FDA kitchen inspection).
And secondly: have you seen what some schools serve as lunch in their cafeterias? Mozzarella sticks as a main course? Really? Most choices have more fat than protein and more salt than taste (I'm just guessing on that last assessment. Parents just get menus to read not the FDA-approved labels).
It pains me that people making decisions that affect schools, and by extension communities, aren’t using their brains when they think.
I'm not sure this kind of decision-making is worth a knock-down, drag-out fight, but I think it shouldn't slither in without comment.
Common sense is appearing more and more uncommon these days.