I’ve always felt like if McCain won in ’08, Michelle Obama and I would be together right now. No one wants to be with a loser.
I have this recurring dream where the First Family gets divorced, and Michelle and I run away to Honduras and open a farm-to-table Cambodian-fusion taco truck. We travel from Osceola to escuela, reforming the Honduran school lunch system one organic Mee Ketang taco at a time.
And then I see an eagle land on a cactus with a snake in its mouth, and then all my teeth fall out, and then there’s a clown that looks like Ronald McDonald, but I know it’s not actually him, and then I sell my soul for a McGriddle, and then I wake up sticky. I wake up so sticky. It’s like Faust meets Westside Story, except I don’t know what either of those is.
I know I constantly fluctuate back and forth between “I care about stuff” and “I’m super aloof and don’t care at all, and apathy makes me cool,” but this is one thing that I’ve been relatively consistent on America’s school lunch system needs to drastically change if we want any shot at mitigating the country’s obesity epidemic.
People are fat, and they’re dying. Bad genes don’t cause large-scale obesity, and conscious, well-informed, but shitty decisions do not cause it. Obesity at this level is systemic; it’s part of a larger cultural mechanism that lubricates itself with McDonald’s french fry grease, corn syrup, and Otter Pops and shit.
The reason your family’s been obese for three generations isn’t because of genetics; it’s because you were all socialized into the same dietary lifestyle. You were taught that a meal has to be a fat piece of meat, a pile of starch, and some shitty vegetable that you had to choke down, or else you weren’t allowed to have your post-dinner ice cream.
You were taught that Pop-Tarts were an appropriate breakfast. They’re called Pop-Tarts! It’s a tart! That’s the French word for “pie,” you moron! If you said that you were feeding your kid a slice of pecan pie for breakfast every day, people would think you’re a negligent piece of shit; but mash it into a foil package, buy a $75,000 Nickelodeon ad spot, and slap a “part of a nutritious breakfast” label on it. Suddenly you’re PTA mom of the year?.
But that’s reasonable to expect, right? Kellogg’s is a multinational corporation whose only real goal is to turn a profit; it would be stupid of them not to peddle their poison to kids. And it’s reasonable for parents to buy into the system because, as a whole, parents are stupid and negligent.
Most people in charge of putting food in kids’ mouths have no formal nutritional education, and they have things to do – like working jobs, watching QVC, and other important shit. Their decision to feed kids Pop-Tarts came from a sentence fragment in a 30-second cartoon commercial; how can you trust them with feeding, educating, and sustaining human life?
That’s not the problem we need to address; that’s unfixable. People are dumb; corporations are evil: these are unfortunate facts of life. But there’s gotta be something we can do, right? Somewhere we can send kids to ensure they get all the tools they need to succeed in life and make well-informed decisions. Like, imagine a place with highly trained professionals whose only job is to ensure kids’ development. The government might even pay for it, too; all the positive externalities seem like they’d be worth it.
Oh yeah, they’re called schools. Kids go to them for 6 hours a day, 180 days of the year, and they’re even fed lunch for a nominal two-dollar fee. They’re taught math, science, and history, and a fat guy with a whistle makes them run around for an hour; it’s really a miracle of an invention; whoever thought of schools, they nailed it. They even teach the kids about nutrition and health!
They’re given food pyramids that preach the virtues of grains and vegetables and warn against the evils of fats and sweets. Then the school says, “hey kids, take all that information and turn it into an efficacious and sustainable dietary lifestyle!” The kids are all like, “OK, school! You have no reason to lie and set me up for failure!”
Then the lunch bell rings, and the school goes, “PSYCH! HERE’S SOME TATER-TOTS AND A FROZEN CHEESEBURGER, YOU FAT ASSHOLE. TRY NOT TO THROW UP YOUR CHOCOLATE MILK ON THE GYM FLOOR DURING P.E.; WE JUST WAXED.”
It is insane that we preach this stuff to kids, then, for 40 minutes a day, throw them into a buffet-style shitstorm of pizza, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers. But all the food groups are covered! The chicken patty sandwich covers meat and grains, the tater-tots cover vegetables, the chocolate milk covers dairy, and the blue raspberry slushie covers the fruit.
Now we can all sleep well knowing that our kids were fed 600 calories of pseudo-food that’s so processed beyond recognition that a 7/11 wouldn’t serve it. I would be more comfortable sending an 8-year-old into a gas station with a wad of singles and saying, “figure it out, kid,” than letting him eat in a public school cafeteria. At least then, he might come out with some turkey jerky and Vitamin Water or something.
It’s not actually the food’s nutritional content causing the problem. School lunches make up roughly 15% of a kid’s diet; that’s not enough to really fuck with their caloric or macro nutritional intake. The real problem is that kids are learning that food only comes in nugget, pizza, burger, and tot form.
We’re teaching kids that a chunk of cow doesn’t become edible until it’s ground with potato gluten and MSG, sandwiched between a bleach-white bun, and shoved into a foil package. It’s not the 600 calories they’re eating at school; it’s the thousands of calories of similarly-processed garbage he’s begging his parents for every night at home.
Stop it. Stop being an asshole. Stop using the “we want to let kids make good decisions on their own” rhetoric; it’s stupid and a cop-out. Giving kids the option between a hamburger and a salad is the equivalent of saying, “hey, little Timmy, you can either do algebra today, or you can play Call of Duty and watch porn.” The only difference is that not doing algebra isn’t going to do any physical harm to his body, giving him a cheeseburger every day and convincing him it’s healthy will.
As an adult, you have a major advantage in this situation – you’re smart, and kids are stupid. For nine years, you tricked your kid into believing that a fat white dude and his team of sentient, flying reindeer travel the world faster than the speed of light and drop presents through chimneys because of Jesus, and you can’t convince him to eat his broccoli? Way to get out-foxed by a child, you big, strapping adult, you.
“Well, if you serve kids healthy food, they just won’t eat it.” Bullshit, you’re confusing “healthy food” with “food that tastes like a dick.” Kids don’t inherently love meat and hate vegetables; they just love the taste of salt and fat. Of course, kids will choose salty, fatty chicken nuggets with sugary BBQ sauce over boiled, unseasoned green beans; who wouldn’t? But flip those preparations around, and you have a different story. If those green beans were roasted with olive oil, salt, and parmesan and put next to a vat of unseasoned, boiled ground beef, the kid’s taking the green beans every time.
“It’s not in the budget to bring fresh vegetables daily.” People spend roughly $71 billion a year on treating diet-related illnesses, and $13 billion of that goes to Lipitor alone. The government subsidizes insurance companies, so the burden falls on the taxpayers too. It would be in everyone’s best interests to do some shuffling and figure out some sort of “broccoli and olive oil” budget. I promise it won’t drastically increase the national deficit.
Here is what I propose.
Every school should create a new position: a teacher/executive chef hybrid with both a teaching credential and a two-year certificate from an accredited culinary school. Pay them an administrator’s salary to make up for the extra educational requisite and have them teach a nutrition/health class before lunch every day.
They could teach kids about how cool carrots are and how they’re farmed, and what they do for the body, and then serve them honey-roasted carrots at lunch. Kids would eat that shit up. Give them a reasonable food budget to work with and give them a competent staff of cooks who receive on-the-job training. Clear up room in the budget by firing a P.E. teacher or three because they really, really don’t do anything. Now go, email this to your local congressman and enact some change. Probably omit all the “fucks” though… sorry about that; I get all worked up sometimes.
Anyways here I am, still cooking up burgers and tater-tots. Sometimes the player doesn’t know when to leave the game.
Chorizo & Melted Petite Basque Burgers with chicharrones and spiced apple chutney
(Childhood obesity never tasted this good)
Spiced Apple Chutney
I was at Whole Foods buying some chorizo Seca and P’tit Basque, and the possibly Iberian, definitely attractive cheese monger asked me what I was doing with it. I lied and said I was making some grilled crostini because I didn’t want to yell, “I MAKING HAMBURGERS,” and have her think I was uncultured. She said, “Oh, well, you must put some of this quince paste on it; it would pair very well.” And I was like, “Yeah! Absolutely! I love you!” I looked at the price tag, which was $12.99, so I didn’t want to do that. Figured I’d fucks with my version own instead.
2 tbsp butter
1 medium minced and peeled apple
2 medium minced shallots
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp allspice
salt and pepper to taste
1) Heat butter in a medium sauce pot on medium-low heat until melted. Add apples and shallots and sautee for 10-15 minutes on medium-low, getting them to translucent but making sure they don’t caramelize.
2) When nice and broken down, add your vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, and paprika, and turn the heat up to medium. Let the mixture reduce on the stove and stir every few minutes until it’s all jammy and thick; that’s the consistency you’re looking for. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then you’re Gucci mane.
This was really the only thing you’d need a recipe for… I kind of just stacked store-bought shit onto other store-bought shit. You probably don’t need instructions on how to do that right? Just look at the picture, and make yours look like that.