Monday, September 13, 2004

This morning I read a story about the trend in school cafeterias : stocking them with organic food.

The story <Diet: no more mystery meat!> talks about how wonderful it is that there are more options than pizza and candy in the cafeteria.

The problem is, it seems to tout organic food as if it is the only healthy alternative to grease or sugar. I can see the importance of stocking cafeterias with more healthy food. But why organic?

"'Organic' doesn't necessarily mean 'healthy,' and pigging out on natural foods won't help your waistline. But organic programs such as the one in Lincoln Elementary have successfully gotten children to eat more fruits and vegetables, which will help improve their health in the long run."

While this is true, and while organic food can have many additional benefits for the environment, I object to the basic assumption that this article makes: that organic food is the only healthy alternative to greasy food. It doesn't even mention what "organic" means. The truth is that often "organic" doesn't mean much at all. And if getting healthful foods in school cafeterias is a cost issue, then perhaps we should first focus on cheaper healthful foods, since often (but not always) organic producers charge more for similar products.

I think we should first focus on providing accessible healthy food options for cafeterias (organic or otherwise) and reduce the bad eating habits of our children and then worry about improving that offering with well-chosen organic products.

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