Lunch room makeovers in Sacramento are so easy even a child can design it as part of child's play, a contest, or a classroom science project. Children cannot be forced to eat these healthier lunches. But kids can be motivated to use healthier food as science projects in classrooms.
Smarter lunchrooms in Sacramento could make food more nutritious and healthier by serving smart foods, super foods, and using produce grown on school ground urban produce gardens by the school children. Children can also learn to design low-cost changes to school cafeterias and present their innovative suggestions, perhaps in a local contest to see how school lunches could be made more nutritious and healthier on a tight budget.
In January 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture passed a series of regulations designed to make school lunches more nutritious, which included requiring schools to increase whole grain offerings and making students select either a fruit or vegetable with their purchased lunch. Now, in a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, Elsevier Health Sciences researchers determined that small, inexpensive changes to school cafeterias influenced the choice and consumption of healthier foods.
Andrew S. Hanks, PhD, and colleagues from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (B.E.N. Center) studied the effects of multiple small interventions, called the smarter lunchroom makeover, in the cafeterias of two junior-senior high schools (grades 7-12) in western New York. In the lunchroom, changes were implemented to improve the convenience and attractiveness of fruits and vegetables. For example, one idea could be to place fresh fruit next to the cash register in nice bowls or tiered stands.
Cafeteria staff of Sacramento schools can motivate kids to eat more vegetables and fruits
Another innovation so simple even a child can design it is to make the selection of fruits and vegetables seem standard through verbal cues from cafeteria staff. How about a sign, video or audio message, or a live person suggesting, "Would you like to try an apple?" Better yet, let the child pick the apple or grow it or any other fruit such as strawberries grown indoors in a greenhouse on school property, in an urban garden, or outside during the warm season. Check out the February 23, 2013 news release, "Smarter lunchrooms make lunch choices child's play." Kids who habitually eat sweet foods usually will choose the sweeter fruits over the blander or slightly bitter vegetables.
For some children, there's the genetic tendency to taste vegetables as bitter at the back of the tongue. Other children with different genes taste vegetables more as neutral than bitter. That's one reason why sauces and salad dressings are put over vegetables in salads, such as melted cheese over cooked broccoli or tomato sauce on other vegetables, ketchup or sour cream/yogurt on potatoes, and oil or ground nuts and avocado dressings on tart vegetables to make them taste more alkaline.
Designing a smarter lunchroom can be a project in nutrition for Sacramento students using the school lunchroom
The smarter lunchroom makeover took no more than 3 hours in one afternoon and cost less than $50 to implement. These types of changes are applications of the behavioral science principle termed "libertarian paternalism," which promotes influencing choice through behavioral cues, while preserving choices. Kids love to invent new devices or suggest new ideas, such as in elementary school naming a robot or making over the school lunchroom, at least on paper as a school contest or project.
In the new study, to measure the impact of the smarter lunchroom makeover, researchers recorded what was left on trays after lunch, both before and after the intervention. After the smarter lunchroom makeover, students were 13% more likely to take fruits and 23% more likely to take vegetables. Actual fruit consumption increased by 18% and vegetable consumption increased by 25%; students were also more likely to eat the whole serving of fruit or vegetables (16% and 10%, respectively).
Healthier foods and how to find them on a tight budget can become child's play in the hands of kids
These low-cost, yet effective interventions could significantly influence healthier behaviors, potentially helping to offset childhood obesity trends. Dr. Hanks notes, "This not only preserves choice, but has the potential to lead children to develop lifelong habits of selecting and consuming healthier foods even when confronted with less healthy options."
These simple changes could also be effective in the cafeterias of other organizations, including hospitals, companies, and retirement homes. Also check out the abstract from another study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, "Effects of a school-based intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in elementary-school children: The Cardiovascular Health in Children (CHIC) Study."
California almonds have to be treated with chemicals or heated by law to prevent salmonella infections, whether they have the contamination or not
Check out the February 22, 2013 article requirement California almonds to be treated either by chemicals or heat for salmonella whether they contain salmonella contamination or not. See, "Court OKs treatment requirement for California almonds - SFGate." An appeals court ruled on February 22, 2013 that federal officials have the authority to require that all California almonds be treated for salmonella following outbreaks linked to almonds from the state. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court decision.
Almonds sold in California now must all be pasteurized. The case stemmed from a 2007 order by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that all California almonds sold domestically be pasteurized with heat or treated with chemicals.
There have been two salmonella outbreaks linked to California almonds, but salmonella in almonds is rare
The law applies to large-scale growers, and an exemption to the order was given to small-scale growers, who were allowed sell untreated almonds, but only directly to the public from farm stands or on-farm sales. That means if you grow almonds in your yard, you can sell them without heating them or treating them chemically.
What will this do to the organic almond business? Traditionally, organic almonds not treated with chemicals are priced higher than commercially-grown almonds treated with chemicals or heat. But even organic almonds have to be treated with some process, usually heating if not chemical. The label may not say anything other than the almonds are organic, meaning they were grown without pesticides. But that doesn't mean they weren't heated or treated with chemicals other than pesticides to get rid of the potential salmonella.
The government can stop the sale of almonds contaminated with salmonella. But how would a farmer know whether almonds were all infected with salmonella unless each one was tested? No one is going to test individual almonds for salmonella. So the law covers all almonds sold in California, and they do have to be treated, unless you're a small-scale vendor.
Did the secretary overstep his authority under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act and California's marketing agreement known as the Almond Order?
If you buy almonds to eat, you don't want any contaminated with salmonella. Large-scale growers selling organic or raw almonds, told the media that organic almonds that had undergone chemical or heating treatments were still labeled as "raw." If you buy raw almonds, you'll never be told that the nuts were treated with chemicals or heated. Or you could buy roasted almonds that you know were heated rather than treated chemically. Sometimes roasted almonds were first treated with chemicals and then roasted. So what are you taking into your body?
It's confusing when you buy unprocessed nuts
You can still buy raw nuts from small vendors. As far as price if the packaged is labeled as raw or organic almonds, usually it's priced 40 percent more in price than conventional almonds that are not labeled organic. But whether raw or organic, if the almonds in California come from a large process of almonds, they have to by law be treated by chemicals or heat. It would be a good idea to print on the package so consumers can choose whether they want to eat heated almonds or almonds treated with chemicals.
And which chemicals? The name of the chemicals is not printed on the label. One hundred percent of the local almond supply comes from California, especially from Fresno. Almonds are California's top commodity and its number one export crop. Almonds from California also are exported to India and China.
For the larger growers, almonds are a huge crop. For the consumer, if you look at prices presently in some supermarkets, they're approaching almost $8 to $10 per pound, whereas last summer, some supermarkets had them on sale for about $4.00 per pound, for commercial, not organic almonds. In Sacramento, check out the packages of almonds at Trader Joe's, as they usually have excellent prices on them and carry both the commercial and the organic varieties of almonds.