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Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children Paperback – Bargain Price, September 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In prose both straightforward and practical, Cooper and Holmes cleverly avoid the depressing air of many of current nutrition manuals in their charge against the school lunch status quo; though they do note in the foreword that "thirty to forty percent of children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes," they've largely jettisoned scare tactics in favor of practical, easy-to-follow solutions for the daily school lunch pail. The book is well documented throughout, giving authors' claims that their advice will lead to "increased ability to concentrate, increased cognitive development...and less moodiness" a solid foundation. Clarifying which foods are truly hazardous to children, the authors offer readers a litany of substitutions and positive options. Avoiding trans-fats and processed foods is only the beginning of advice that includes "trusting your children's appetites" while keeping in mind that "you are the boss" where food choices are concerned. Perfect for working parents who believe they're far too busy to pack a school lunch for their child, this well-organized manual offers a host of surprisingly simple meal changes and easy-to-follow recipes. Other sections offer tips on getting involved locally to transform school lunch programs; the end of the book boasts a valuable resource guide with helpful websites.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Perfect for working parents who believe they’re far too busy to pack a school lunch for their child” (Publishers Weekly )
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There's no question school lunches in the US are abysmal, as is children's nutrition in general. As such, there is very much a place for a book covering what this book purports to be. However Lunch Lessons is not such a book. It lacks depth in the political context of the school lunch program, has a pop-sci understanding of many of the relevant technical topics, and virtually no discussion of the medical research into the obesity epidemic. As a book of advice, it is sorely lacking in a holistic view of health, discussing healthy lawn care instead of exercise, for example.
Next to nothing in the book is referenced, and the information is occasionally simply wrong. Chapter one tells readers to drink eight glasses of water a day, for example, despite this being a well-refuted myth. The authors also say dioxins may be in plastic wrap; although some hazardous chemicals may be in plastic (particularly those not intended to be heated), dioxin is not among them.
The last two chapters of the book are mostly recipes. Some look pretty good, although not all are really packed-lunch material. I am looking forward to trying some of them.
In short, this book has less than a chapter on the purported topic of school lunches, filling in the rest with a smattering of topics which could just as easily be found in the pages of any issue of Yes! Magazine or similar publication. It is not the book on school lunches which desperately needs to be written.
This book is filled with information and government agencies you can contact to help upgrade your local school. The recipes are not all to my taste as I am a vegan and really want more emphasis on plant based entrees. There has been more good studies on the connection between high frutose corn syrup and behavioral issues than when this was published. However, if you don't know the ins and outs of school lunch this is a great resources.
Marty Davey, MS, RD
Certified Chef de Cuisine
Culinary Concept Developer
Another thing (and this, admittedly, is not a big deal, but irked me) was that there are barred facts stuck in every other page or so, and some of them make no sense. Several draw comparisons between unlike things -- for example "Calories on the rise: In the 1960's a McDonald's small fries was 210 calories, versus 610 calories today for a large." If you want to prove your point, authors, you should have cited the growth of the "small" and the resultant increase in calories -- not compared different sizes from different eras. This gives the reader no real information on what's changed. Morgan Spurlock did this better..
For anyone who's seen Supersize Me, Food, Inc., read Fast Food Nation, seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, or knows who Marion Nestle or Michael Pollan are, this book is a complete waste of time. Yes, the system needs better guidelines and more resources. And we, the parents and concerned educators (I happen to be both) need practical solutions that lie somewhere between a collection of healthy recipes to prepare for our own kids and millions of dollars of funding.