You can lead a horse to water ...

As you may know, First Lady Michelle Obama has changed school cafeteria food so that they only serve healthy food. The Washington Post reports: “Some school officials, particularly in rural communities, have complained about the White House seeking to impose costly food standards on districts that don’t want them.”

Several of these critics, speaking with reporters this week, complained about cafeteria garbage cans swelling with fruits, veggies and other healthful foods rejected by students. “We can’t force students to eat something they don’t want,” said Lyman Graham, food service director for consolidated schools near Roswell, N.M. “Many families in the Southwest will not accept whole-grain tortillas. “Schools can’t change cultural preferences,” Graham added. “And with sky-high produce costs, we simply cannot afford to feed our trash cans.” And in Tennessee, after schools replaced familiar flaky white biscuits with a whole-grain variety, one official reported a “severe amount of rejection.”

Michelle Obama is correct. The kids should be eating healthier foods, but you can only lead a horse to water, you can not make he/she drink. So what they ought to do is offer some healthy alternatives for the few students and teachers who want that sort of food. Maybe over time more will be attracted to the better fare, but giving no choice just doesn’t sit well with most students. For the rest of the student body, offer whatever they used to offer the students and teachers [it’s changed a lot since I was a kid]. Bottom line is we want to feed the kids reasonably healthy food at school. However, if they don’t eat it, then what good is the food? So they’ve got to offer food they’ll at least eat.

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Golly, gee wiz, those kids in the South prefer real biscuits to whole wheat biscuits. I sure hope the federal government didn’t spend millions of dollars to find out that bit of information. To be quite honest, I side with the kids. Most whole wheat bread products lack any real taste and in your mouth feels like you’re eating sawdust or sandpaper.

The school kids apparently have said they’d rather be hungry than eat what the First Lady dictated they eat. So sadly it appears, that in many schools, most of that food is being tossed into the trash, meaning our tax dollars are feeding the dumpster and the landfill rather than the kids.

Mrs. Obama went overboard and appears to want to force the kids to eat their Brussels sprouts, humus, and sunflower seeds. Meal time in the White House must be a real hoot when she’s dinning with Barack and their kids. I wonder how many secret pepperoni pizzas the President has had the White House Chef sneak up to the Oval Office.

The dirty little secret probably is, as today’s school kids all carry back packs [different world from when I was in school] so they probably have some sort of junk food packed away to get them through the day. Also there might be some entrepreneurs in the student body who have their back packs full of forbidden treats who make a nice bit of cash each day from his/her fellow students. My guess is, you’ll find a future venture capitalist in the making, in each school building. In other words as the ancient Greek philosopher Plato said in the dialog Republic: “A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. The modern version: necessity is the mother of invention.

I can envision the next big thing coming from the First Lady, as she tries to insure the kids are eating healthy. We could see backpack checkers at the doors of the schools trying to stop kids from bringing into the schoolhouse contraband like Twinkies, Tastykakes and potato chips so that they’ll have no choice, but be forced to eat those whole wheat biscuits, whole wheat tacos, and beets. Glad I’m no longer in school.

The best solution to this problem is to allow the state school boards, in each state, to make these decisions and for both the federal government and the First Lady to butt out. The Republicans in Congress are correct to pass a law giving that authority back to the states.

Mike Cannatelli lives in suburban Wilmington with his wife. He repairs electronic instrumentation the food industry uses to detect bacteria in food. He plays supper club music on the piano and is a voracious reader who is a registered Independent voter.