In No Lunch Left Behind (or scraped into the trash), Alice Waters and Katrina Heron argue school lunches should be prepared at the school from locally grown, organic food, when possible.
Schools here in Berkeley, for example, continue to use U.S.D.A. commodities, but cook food from scratch and have added organic fruits and vegetables from area farms.
. . . Washington needs to give schools enough money to cook and serve unprocessed foods that are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. When possible, these foods should be locally grown.
How much would it cost to feed 30 million American schoolchildren a wholesome meal? It could be done for about $5 per child, or roughly $27 billion a year, plus a one-time investment in real kitchens.
That’s not healthier for students or the environment, responds Henry Miller, a former Food and Drug Administration official, in a letter to the New York Times.
. . . food safety, environmental preservation and energy conservation are not promoted by “foods that are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.” Such foods are expensive and inefficient, because they use more land and water than if modern techniques were employed.
. . . Finally, “food safety” would likely become a far greater problem if thousands of schools were to begin to “cook food from scratch”: the vast majority of food poisonings result from the improper handling of food — in particular, from inadequately cooking chicken or permitting the juices from raw poultry to contaminate other foods.
Organic fruits and vegetables are a lot more expensive without being any healthier. Kids will eat fruit if it’s not too pricey. (I’m not sure they’ll eat vegetables at any price.)