Often when I write, the thoughts begin in my head as a result of songs I hear playing on my internal ipod. Most are from the 60’s and 70’s, the rebellious days of my youth. Lately I’ve been remembering a song written by Stephen Stills and sung by Buffalo Springfield called “For What it’s Worth.” The first two lines of the song were such intense statements that they immediately grabbed your attention. “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” It goes on to be a song about the a time at a university when the military was sent in to handle student demonstrations.
Although that song was written during a time when great social change was happening, the words are echoing in my mind because I think there is a new kind of social change taking place. Parents and students are beginning to wake up to the fact that all the poor eating habits of the past are bad habits that have long term repercussions. I am hearing and seeing everywhere that people are wanting change in the food that is being fed to their kids. “There’s something happening here.” Parents and administrators from numerous Firm Schools have come to me to seek help in changing their lunch programs and I’m beginning to see some small signals that things are beginning to happen in public schools around the country. “What it is ain’t exactly clear.”
For seven years I’ve had the great privilege of turning kids on to good, all natural food, made from scratch every day. It’s what I often refer to as “real food.” Real food is food that arrives in the kitchen looking like it does when it comes from the farm or out of the garden, it is prepped, and slowly cooked so that the flavors develop. It’s the way to cook food that is fresh and hasn’t been processed in any way and has no additives in it. Cooking fresh food the right way is like having dessert for every meal. The inherent natural sugars come to the surface and give that sweet flavor that can’t be duplicated in any other way. No artificial flavors have that taste.
With all the talk of stimulus money floating around I find it strange that I’m not hearing about putting some of that money into school kitchens and creating jobs for trained chefs to make things happen to get real food, cooked right, into school lunch programs. There’s always the groan, we don’t have the budget. Or even worse, “it’s just 20 minutes out of the day there’s no ‘learning’ going on so why invest.” That’s not true at all. If you get kids accustomed to the taste of real food it’s the best diagnosis for treating their addiction to fast food and junk food. They are able to know the difference. If they acquire the taste for real food in school, like they do with so many other things that influence them through life, in the future we just may have a healthier population than we have now. Lunchtime is not only a time for learning about sustenance and nutrition but it is also the time to refuel for staying alert for learning the rest of the day. Aren’t those good enough reasons for a healthy lunch program?
About the Contributor: Chef Bobo is a regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of area of school lunch and children’s food.