I spent 75&#162 on this entry

KipEsquire at A Stitch in Haste points to this article concerning New Jersey’s newly announced ban on junk food in school lunches (to take effect on Sept. 1, 2007).

Under the New Jersey plan, soda, candy and foods listing sugar as the first or principal ingredient will be banned from school cafeterias. Snacks and drinks with more than eight grams of total fat per serving and two grams of saturated fat will be banned, and cafeterias will have to restrict amounts of foods with trans fats.

The only beverages that can be served in amounts of 12 ounces or more will be water or milk with 2 percent fat or less.

I’m not going to focus on the merits of this proposal because I don’t really care much. It’s a noble goal that will go horribly wrong because the government wishes to dictate that people make responsible choices where they don’t wish to do so. It’s especially absurd because it involves the state’s power over minors, a group that obviously has no political power to object. Also, parents form their child’s eating habits, so anything that doesn’t influence the prior learning before forcing the change, and I can think of little government intervention that would, will fail. I suspect the typical reaction will mimic this (not surprising) response:

“I think it’s whack,” Malcolm Jones, 13, an eighth grader at South Orange Middle School, said while munching on a baked chicken patty sandwich. A carrot stick sat untouched on his plate. “They took away French fries, pizza, all the good stuff. A lot of students aren’t happy.”

Anyone believe that kids won’t find a way around this? Administrators and teaches will spend more time confiscating junk food contraband than educating kids. So, no, I have nothing to add to that debate that isn’t obvious.

I do wish to comment on this quote, though:

Robert Earl, senior director of nutrition policy for the Food Products Association in Washington, D.C., said there were flaws with the plan because it excluded many foods that children want and need as part of a whole diet.

“Things like cheeses, nuts, peanut butter, flavored milks and normal foods that are part of a healthful diet could be excluded,” Mr. Earl said. “It seems like the better objective is perhaps having a lot of variety instead of restrictions.”

Education and choices? Oh, why would we do that? We don’t put children in school to learn to think. They’re in school to learn how to take directions. Duh.

But again I digress. What really bothers me is that Mr. Earl mentions flavored milks as “part of a healthful diet”. How are they healthful? Aside from the obvious arguments that humans are the only species to drink the milk of another species and milk does bad things to the human body, how is adding flavors to milk going to keep make it healthy? Consider this explanation of flavored milk by the National Dairy Council:

In general, flavored milks are milks to which a sweetened flavors such as cocoa or cocoa powder, strawberry or vanilla extract has been added, along with a sweetener such as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup.

No doubt every nutritionist recommends a minimum daily intake of high fructose corn syrup. That’s why we’re being propagandized marketed flavored milk from many different angles. Consider:

Besides the great taste, pediatricians agree that flavored milk is a nutritious beverage for children. This same survey also revealed that 100% of pediatricians agree calcium is important for children’s growth and development and 93% said that children are not consuming enough calcium in their diets. Many children agree that they would drink more milk if it were flavored, and a recent study shows that children who drink milk with their lunch consume more calcium for the entire day! Not just for kids, milk, including flavored milk, has an excellent nutrient profile, and, along with other dairy products, is the major source of calcium in the diet. Government data indicates that most of us fail to meet our daily calcium recommendations as set by the National Academy of Sciences. This can lead to bone fractures early in life and eventually osteoporosis. Why shouldn’t we add a little “flavor” to our lives!

That’s a hard-hitting study. 100% of pediatricians agree calcium is important for children’s growth and development. Who knew? Blah, blah, blah. There’s more debunking I could do on the facts, as presented so far, but that’s for another day. What I will do is a little experiment, based on this comment from Dayle Hayes, a registered dietician:

Flavored milk does contain added sweeteners. However, the amount of sugar in most flavored milk is significantly less than the amount in regular soft drinks.

Really? That’s good. We should make flavored milk the staple liquid to quench every thirst. But just to be sure, let’s look at the labels, okay? Okay. Here is the nutrition label for Horizon Organics Vanilla Milk. Here is the nutrition label for Nesquik Vanilla Milk.

One has 29 grams of sugar, the other has 30 grams. They’re basically even. And to get that fine flavor, they both use sugar. And Nesquik is better because it uses the high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Mmmmmm. Nutritious. At least they’re use considerably less sugar than soft drinks. I hesitate to even think of the sugar content of soft drinks. But I must suffer for my art, so I purchased a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola to read the nutrition label. (Coca-Cola doesn’t make it available on the web. Wonder why?) I took this picture of the Coca-Cola nutrition label.

Right, the less sugar argument is true because that can of soda has 39 grams of sugar. And yet, I don’t feel like that’s true. Why is that? Could it be that the soda’s 39 grams of sugar is in 12 oz. of soda, versus the 30 grams of sugar in 8 oz. of flavored milk? I didn’t major in calculus, but I think I can do this math. The soda has 3.25 grams of sugar per oz. The flavored milk has 3.75 grams of sugar per oz.

I haven’t had a soda in years, so I’m not promoting soda as an alternative to milk. But the argument that flavored milk is a good choice is absurd. For example, a serving of flavored vanilla milk has the same sugar content as a Snickers&#174 bar. Yet, it’s so much easier to believe the marketing from the government and dairy producers that milk is a great food. Really, they wouldn’t market lies. They wouldn’t pay legislators to legislate milk over soda water. Would they?

So, no, I have no faith in the state of New Jersey to get th
is plan right.

5 thoughts on “I spent 75&#162 on this entry”

  1. I was going to comment on this. But—- I worked for the food service at my school for almost 20 years. I do know a little about the government trying get into the food program. But—- The outcry from PARENTS when something new was added on to the menu WOW you would not believe the names we were called. Then Pepsi and Coke started to bribe the schools with millions of dollars just to get there machines in the schools. We actually offered 3 different entre choices. Way to much for kids. All they wanted was Pizza and chicken nuggets. Wow I actually wrote more than one line. PS Do you read these responses?

  2. Have you ever looked at a lunch menu from an elementary school? Seriously, flavored milk probably is the most nutritious thing on the menu.
    Gone are the days of homecooked cafeteria meals. Everything comes from a can or a freezer – it’s all processed food. Salad bars and fresh fruits are showing up more and more, but it’s not enough. Some schools around the country are trying more healthful alternatives to the typical cafeteria fare, and it doesn’t cost much more than what’s being offered now.
    The funny thing is, the kids barely eat what’s on their trays. Most of the food goes to waste, and the parents have no idea because they can’t monitor how much of a bought lunch their child is actually eating.
    I wonder how a typical school cafeteria lunch would measure up to a brought-from-home vegan lunch. The government would probably find it unethical. 😉

  3. Oh, two other things.
    1. For some kids, the school lunch is the most nutritious meal they will eat in a 24 hour period, and for that, it serves a purpose. Children who receive free and reduced lunches count on this meal for much of their daily requirements.
    2. 75 cents????? Damn. POP at my school only costs 60. How nice of Coca-Cola to give us poor teachers a discount. hee.

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