Friday, March 9, 2012

Pink slime, school lunch and the Lunch Lady.

You have read in previous posts that my daughter is unable to eat school lunches.  You know, when she started school, I thought school lunch was what I had.  The lunch was served on plates on trays with ladies and nets on their heads scooping and serving. 

That's not how it is now and I had absolutely no idea until I actually saw it.  I have probably mentioned before that K-'s school lunches are served in little waxed squares with cellophane wrap and dished out on a little styrofoam tray as a carrier.

Can we all say, "Yum?"

I had a beef with the lunches when we finally figured out about a month into kindergarten that they were making her ill, school was sending her home and it was just triggering her reflux.  No problem.  I promised to never allow her to get school lunch again.

K- has recently had a hankerin' to participate in the lunch retrieval with her friends.  I came to a decision, let her in on it and it works for everyone. 

Last year, when the Lunch Lady was talking to me while I was updating 100 Book Challenge, we got to talking about K-'s school lunch intolerance.  Remembering that, I went to talk to Mrs. S- today to iron out some permission.  What we have is this-- K- may eat the fresh items that are available.  They occasionally have salads, short cut carrots and dip, apple slices, a banana and broccoli (at least those are on for this month) and Mrs. S- said that K- can come through her line and she'll let her roll with fresh stuff only.  Mandate for free lunch (there is no charge to any student in the elementary) is that they must take three things.  White milk is considered as one and it is skim.  Hooray!  If they don't have suitable "fresh" items, K- can get what she needs and place the illegal item "in the middle" so the other kids can take it if wanted.  K-'s been getting salad and broccoli from the middle anyhow, so it is the pit of extra pickin's.  K- did eat the chili a few weeks ago, which gave me an absolute heart attack.  "But mom, it didn't even give me a stomach ache or anything!"  Mrs. S- and I were discussing that today and she said, "It's because it was vegetarian!"  Well, there you go.  She said it was delicious.  It made me feel better knowing it didn't involve pink slime.  She's still not going to be cleared to eat school lunch "cooked" items.  It's not Mrs. S-'s fault.  She doesn't cook it.  She only warms it as she is supposed to do.

Rachael sent me an e-mail with a link to the pink slime report just released.  I watched the video and told her that she had missed the episode of the Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver where they showed how to make pink slime from miscellaneous beef trimmings, ammonia and a front loading washer.  The idea that unusable bits of animal are gassed with ammonia, ground up and considered meat because it is pink is just beyond gross.  What is more disturbing is that groceries (not all) are including this "lean textured meat" as a part of their meat is really nasty.  I mean, is the fattening of America and the nasticious diseases that we have in adults and children bad enough, or shall we go ahead and fill them up with chemically treated ground up bits?  Mmmmm.  Sign me up! 

My sister buys a bulk (but not all, though today I think that it will be ALL) of her meat at a local meat farm.  She said that there is a sign on their door that says, "Friends don't let friends buy grocery store meat."  I told her that I buy only Amish chickens because they aren't beefed up with antibiotics and crap.  I told her the brand that I buy and when she was an apprentice butcher, she said that was all she would buy.  She said that there was considerable difference between the Amish chicken and the more corporately grown chickens.  I know where the farms are.  I've been past the farms.  They have nothing to hide, proudly hang the sign outside of their farms labeling that they are a grower of that brand of chicken and everyone looks happy. 

I was vegetarian for years and pink slime makes me reconsider returning to that.  Truly, it isn't out of the realm of dinner offerings for me to have made meatless meals several times a week.  Even though we don't eat red meat, me thinks that veggies will continue showing up even more and more and meat less and less. 

What's your take?  Don't worry, anything you say can't offend. 


ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

OMG pink slime is soooo gross. Why is this even allowed? And why are we just finding out about it now? I used to be vegetarian too and it makes me want to return. UGH.
M buys school lunches more than I care to think about. Being pregnant means I'm tired in the morning. I make J's lunch because with his allergies, there's no way he can eat in the cafeteria. We're in the process of revamping the lunch program but I haven't seen anything on it lately and I'm afraid it stalled. They serve such garbage and it's heat and eat stuff too. They actually served NO fruit or vegetable with it. But they've been adding a fruit due to the complaints of the parents. My kid will eat the fruit, carrots, loves broccoli, etc so their excuse that kids just won't eat it is BS. They can't eat it if it's not offered so they could at least make an effort.
The school lunch program riles me up. Can you tell??

Bailey's Leaf said...

Amen sister. I know that you said that your school has some offerings that a number don't have and the pairings they allow the children to have (if memory serves) frightens me, too. Ours is pretty basic and no extras. It is what it is, but at least they are having more and more fresh fruit offerings. Next Wednesday is K-'s next legal lunch food day. She can have the salad and fresh fruit cup. I mean, hey-- not so bad when you take away the pink slime crap. Today, she went with a mommy salad. Romaine, carrots, grape tomatoes, cauliflower, cheddar cheese curds, sliced up turkey and a soy nut salad mix. She has a yogurt on the side. Voila. Done. Today's prep was a bit more labor intensive, but I was good with that. Afterall, it is pink free.

Rach said...

I remember our lunch ladies would get to school at 5:30 and COOK our lunches. Cook them from scratch. Good stuff too. I started teaching and was so horrified by what they were slopping out and dishing up I swore I would NEVER allow a child of mine to eat that crap. And, so far, they haven't. Add pink slime to the mix and I just shudder in revulsion. OMG it's so foul I can't even contemplate it. I DO know we'll be grinding our own beef from now on. No more ground round for us.

I can't wait for the FM to open so I can visit Emily and get my good grass fed home grown beef once more. My chicken and pork supplier disappeared, drat them. :oS

Bailey's Leaf said...

I'm adding FM to my list of doings this year, too.