The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Glorious Food?

with 3 comments

This morning’s New York Times, which ungenerously does not allow you access to this story without some kind of subscription after a few days, reports this morning on the imposition of good lunching principles on English schoolchildren in the north of England. The children, according to the article anyway, “consider French fries a major food group.” According to the writer, weaning them from this sort of food “is not easy. There is no nicotine patch equivalent for chicken nuggets.”

The trouble can be seen just in that paragraph. Nobody likes to be told their food choices suck. The moral superiority of good food proponents is the single biggest impediment to the whole healthy lunch movement. That, and the top down nature of it all.

If you want people to eat well, you have to seduce them. Good food looks and smells lovely. It is not abstract. It speaks to our sense of pleasure, not our sense of duty. And good food can never be imposed. If you choose something to eat , freely, you are far more likely to want to eat it. That’s why a child who goes to a garden they help tend and picks something they’ve seen growing is far more likely to try that thing and maybe enjoy it. A child who’s told something is good for them is going to run screaming away. And their mothers are going to keep feeding them french fry sandwiches.

Which is not to say that things won’t settle down. It’s possible to learn from mistakes. The article also describes a school where new meals were introduced more slowly, with more input from parents and children. Things went better there. But until parents and children feel like what goes in the lunchbox is their choice, and their pleasure, the meals served in school cafeterias won’t be going down particularly well and the meals that come from home in a brown bag aren’t going to be much different than they ever were.

Written by bloglily

October 18, 2006 at 9:44 am

3 Responses

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  1. […] Now this is a little irritating, though given the kind of coverage obese Americans get, perhaps a little payback is long overdue.  Glorious Food? English Schoolchildren Think Not – New York Time does present a rather editorialised slant on something that’s been a major story here for some time.  Bloglilly has a perspective on it that I sympathise with but am a teeny bit at odds with. It’s the thorny issue of choice in a democracy.  Well, first you have to educate the parents.  And re-educate the kids.  And then there’s the seat belt paradigm. […]

  2. Highly recommend you visit “” anytime you’d like to read a news story without subscribing. Generous souls register and share the log in and passwords for the rest of us. I use it for the NYT and others quite frequently. I understand they want to gather information about their readers, but it strikes me somewhat unreasonable to do so relentlessly, just because it’s in an electronic format. — you’re best friend for reading online!


    October 19, 2006 at 6:59 pm

  3. Kate, what a wonderful tip. Thank you so much!


    October 20, 2006 at 1:22 am

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