Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More Tales From War On Food

This one from today's New York Times: Glorious Food? English School Children Think Not.

It's nice to see the mainstream media take into account what the people affected by junk food bans actually think. In England and Wales, new regulations which took effect in September have replaced unhealthy hamburgers, french fries, processed meats, and sugary drinks with more healthy options for school lunch menues. Additionally, many of the schools are banning off campus fast food lunches. What are the responses of parents?

“They shouldn’t be allowed to tell the kids what to eat,” Mrs. Critchlow said of the school authorities. “They’re treating them like criminals.”

Mrs. Critchlow has become a notorious figure in Britain. In September she and another mother — alarmed, they said, because their children were going hungry — began selling contraband hamburgers, fries and sandwiches to as many as 50 students a day, passing the food through the school gates.

And most telling is the story of Andreas Petrou, an 11th grader:

“It’s rubbish,” said Andreas Petrou [of the new school menu]. Instead, en route to school recently, he was enjoying a north of England specialty known as a chip butty: a French-fries-and-butter sandwich doused in vinegar.

Petrou insists that no amount of explaining will convince him that a French fry sandwich is not a decent meal. If confronted with the school food, he said, he will do what all his friends do: gather as much bread as he can, “put half an inch of butter on each slice,” and call it lunch.

I think the story speaks for itself.


Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

Yes this story does speak for itself. It just shows how stubborn children are.

How come you never post on school dress codes, or school behavior codes? Aren't those infringing on a child's rights? Schools tell children how to dress and how to behave and yet, when a school tells children what to eat and actually backs it up with providing those foods, it becomes a war. These kids can eat whatever the hell they want when they get home so why does this matter? You can't honestly tell me that a "a French-fries-and-butter sandwich doused in vinegar." is healthier than anything they are serving now. I also find it interesting that you ignore the fact that students don't have to eat the school food, and that they can bring a brown bag lunch.

Schools sell these healthy lunches. It's like a business, they can choose what they want to serve, and if they choose to not serve unhealthy food, then what is the problem.

Once again, you're right, this story does speak for itself. It's absolutely disgusting that HIGH SCHOOL KIDS would stoop to "contraband" fast food instead eating a healthy meal. To me, this shows there is a problem with unhealthy food, and that it is getting out of hand.

You call these laws "nanny" laws, and who needs nannies: children.

1:05 PM  
Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

One more thing that I missed. I said it was disgusting students were selling contraband, when in reality it was the parents. That's even worse. If these parents can afford to feed 50 students with contraband fast food, why can't they afford to make a turkey sandwich for these kids or something healthier. How can you defend that behavior? There's a thing in this world called discipline. These kids can't go 1 meal a day without fast food, so what does that tell you about "the war on food".

1:16 PM  
Blogger QU 3L said...

Do you really want the government dictating what people can and can't eat? Is that the sort of world you want to live in, one where you no longer have control of your own diet or the diet of your family? I don't care what the intentions of such laws are, that sounds a lot more like facism than freedom.

As usual you're missing the point when it comes to these laws. This isn't about the rights of children at all (which is why I don't post on things like dress codes and behavior codes), it's about the rights of parents- do we want a world where there are laws telling parents they can't feed their children french fries and cheese pizza?

I'm not saying schools shouldn't set healthier school lunch policies- there's nothing wrong with that- and in fact, several months I linked to an article in the New York Times where it talked about individual schools doing just that.

The problem with this law is it is a national law in Britain, one that every school has to follow. In essence, that cuts parents out of the picture. There is a tremendous difference between a locally elected school board (or better yet, a school's parent organization) and a national legislature making decisions about what kids can eat.

As a conservative, I would hope you understand the value of parenting and see the danger of taking parental decisions out of the hands of parents and into the hands of the state- actually this is one of the tenants of Marxism- limit the role of the traditional family so the state (or the communist party) can instill values in the young.

It's interesting you mention dress codes and behavior codes, because those rules are made by individual schools, not by larger legislative bodies who have no direct connection to the schools or the children involved. Once again, this isn't about children, it's about parents, and the right to raise one's kids as one sees fit.

Schools probably should serve more nutritious lunches, but the point of my complaint is not to debate what schools should and shouldn't serve. The point is to note the way individual choices and traditional values are being trampled by laws passed in the name of public health.

3:51 PM  
Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

I do understand the value of parenting, and I find it sickening that parents would stoop so low to give their kids hamburgers in that fashion. If the government, town, state or national, decided to say you can't have this kind of food in school, then I'm fine with it. It's a school. It's not a fancy restaurant. Personally, I find it hypocritical when schools say follow the food groups and eat healthy, and then they offer chips, ice cream, fries, and other greasy fatty foods for lunch. Of course a child will choose fries over a baked potato, especially without parental control. Also, I'm sure most parents do want their kids eating healthier and that's why I'm so shocked about those people in England.

"Do we want a world where there are laws telling parents they can't feed their children french fries and cheese pizza?"

Where does this law say parents can't feed their children those foods. This law says schools can't feed kids these foods. Parents can give their kids whatever they want at home. And I'm not missing the point. If a school says dress this way at school, does that mean a kid has to dress the same at home? No. It's the same principle. Parents don't have say in dress codes, schools do. Parents don't have say on behavior in school, the schools do.

There are parents out there who probably don't want their kids eating pizza, fries, ice cream and other unhealthy foods at lunch. So what do they do, they give them bag lunches. If parents in Britan really want their kids to have all of that crap, then they can pack it in bag lunches.

"actually this is one of the tenants of Marxism- limit the role of the traditional family so the state (or the communist party) can instill values in the young."

By this logic you should be against school altogether. Schools instill values all the time. You have to raise your hand to speak, you can't talk back to an adult, you stand in line and there are no cuts, don't push other kids, play fair, and hehave in a polite manner. What if parents want their kids to speak their minds, what if parents want their kids to play to win, what if parents don't care how their kids behave?

"The point is to note the way individual choices and traditional values are being trampled by laws passed in the name of public health."

What traditions are being tramped? A lot of people would argue kids don't have most rights at school, and since parents trust schools to help raise their kids, then anythign the school says, goes. You're making something out of nothing here and you're missing the real point of that last story. The point being there IS a growing health problem if kids can't go one meal a day w/out a hamburger and fries.

6:14 PM  
Blogger QU 3L said...

One- the health of children is primarily a parental responsibility, not a government responsibility. Yes government should be concerned about children's welfare, but at what point is the state stepping in and becoming de facto parents?

Two- Schools can and do instill values, but those values should be determined by individual schools and local communities not national legislatures.

Finally, how would you feel about the exact opposite sort of law. Say a large soft drink distributer (we'll call them Poke ... or maybe we'll call them Cepsi) lobbies the national legislature to pass a law requiring that all schools put their soda machines in all school cafeterias. The legislature justifies the law by citing the massive amounts of funding that the soft drink distributor will be giving to the education system.

Would you feel different about a law like that? Would you feel differently about parents who didn't want soda machines in their children's schools?

The point of this argument is not nutrition and health, but about democracy and individual rights. Democracy becomes less meaningful when larger democratric majorities impose their will upon smaller democratic majorities. Maybe the majority of the nation thinks a certain sort of food law for schools is a good idea, but a majority of some communities may think differently. So why rely on the larger legislative body- which is more disconnected from the people- when local towns, local school boards, and local schools are perfectly capable of making their own decisions.

If a parent feels strongly about school lunch policy, they have a chance to effect that policy when that policy is made at the local level. When the policy is made at the national level, they are one voice among millions.

When it comes to issues of school lunches, soda machines, and junk food, you can't honestly tell me that there is one right answer. And you can't tell me what harm would come from schools or towns setting their own nutritional guidelines. So why impose one national solution on every single school in the country?

Keeping local issues local is more democratic and puts individuals in better positions to exercise their rights.

11:58 PM  
Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

There is an enormous difference between the real situation at hand and the hypothetical situation you bring forth. If a soda company somehow got legislation to be required in all schools, than I'd definitely have a problem with it. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Schools are not businesses. They are overseen by the government and they are funded by the government. It doesn't matter to me whether parents want the soda machines or not, what matters to me is that the government would sell itself out like that. That is the bigger issue. Parents would be against it regardless, just like parents should be for healthier lunches.

I'm not missing your point, I know what your point is and it's irrelevant because there's no chance in hell good parents want their kids eating unhealthy. Here's something you're missing though. Individual schools, I'm sure, would like to implement healthier lunches but not every school can afford that. When a government body steps in and makes a law requiring healthy lunches, they aren't just going to let the schools figure it out. I've read stories about local schools (Mansfield, Conn.), who have tried experimental health food changes, but the costs were too much. With government approval, there would be an increase in funding so all schools could do it. You say there are probably communities that are against healthier lunches. Where? I would love to hear one community say they want their kids eating hamburgers and fries everyday instead of a healthier alternative.

If you find one community that is against it for anything other than monetary costs, than I'll stop arguing with you. Fact is, you won't find anything like that aside from the crazy British woman.

Another point you're missing is nobody is losing their individual rights. If parents want their kids to eat crap for lunch, then they can pack bag lunches.

If the government wants to make a law that is for the greater good, and would see no real opposition, then I don't see a problem with it. If a parent trusts the school to help raise and educate their children, than they should have no problem with healthier lunches. Case Closed.

8:03 PM  
Blogger QU 3L said...

You sound much more like a liberal than a conservative.

11:32 PM  
Blogger QU 3L said...

And it's frightening to me that you think decisions relating to schools and education are best made at the biggest level of government possible- that is the French model of education. Historically it has never been the American model.

11:37 PM  
Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

Government isn't the best way, but this is something universal. For example, if one particular school wants uniforms and another doesn't, than I think that's best left up to the schools. On issues regarding health or academic standards, then I believe there do need to be government regulations because no school should have an advantage over another. Education should be equal, and if one high school were to eliminate unhealthy lunches, than every school should because it's the right thing to do. This is an issue that every student should be affected by. To me, the issue at hand isn't about political standing. It's about sending the right message to kids. Whether you want to admit it or not, diabetes, obesity and other health risks are on the rise, especially with young people and there needs to be some sort of initiative to put an end to it.

It's frightening to me that you would defend a woman selling hamburgers to kids because of a ban and kids who think that a french fry and butter sandwich is a decent meal. That tells me there is a problem.

12:45 AM  

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