Ed Bruske, who keeps a blog called The Slow Cook, recently spent a week observing an elementary-school kitchen in Washington, D.C. His blog series about the experience, "Tales From a D.C. Kitchen," shows just how industrial public-school lunch is in America, as well as the staff’s efforts to move beyond “heat and serve.” Here’s his take from the first post in the six-part series:
The system is precisely designed for optimum efficiency, convenience, and economies of scale. As I discovered during my week in the H.D. Cooke kitchen, “fresh cooked” — the food our children are served here in the nation’s capitol every day — is a perfect reflection of the prevailing industrial methods that rule our nation’s food supply. Meal components are highly processed and reconstituted, some with ingredients provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commodities food program, and come from factories all over the country. Human intervention has been reduced to an absolute minimum. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s easy. Whittington and her two assistants spend more time serving and cleaning up than they do actually preparing the food.
Another view of school lunch comes from an anonymous teacher, Mrs. Q., who blogs at Fed Up With School Lunch. (Prepare to lose your appetite.) And over at Grist, Tom Philpott offers his take on Mrs. Q.’s typical lunch — and that’s before you even get to the food:
The amount of packaging documented here is stunning — even the cheese sandwich comes pre-wrapped.
Change in our kitchens
Reflections on cooking — and a career that’s based largely at the stove.
Flatbreads from around the continent
Beyond a supporting role
The great Sicilian-Neapolitan kitchen rivalry
Five ideas each month for eating better