Wednesday, March 17, 2010

wow... something to think about Wednesday

Good morning all!
In my efforts not to get all antsy and actually rest this week, I came across two very interesting blogs. I've written about the Japanese way of eating before on the blog, and these two blogs represent exactly what I mean.

The two blogs are Fed Up With Lunch, and Mr. Ferguson's Classroom. Fed Up With Lunch is written by an American teacher about the deplorable condition of American school lunches for kids. In contrast, Mr. Ferguson's Classroom chronicles school lunches from a Japanese elementary/pre-school. The differences are astonishing.

I can actually relate to Mr. Ferguson's blog. I went to a Japanese pre-school and I remember my lunches being absolutely delicious. Though I don't remember specifics, I do remember the ceremony that went into lunch. Lunch was eaten in the classroom together with all the kids and teachers. Lunch would not start until everyone was served, and everyone had said "Itadakimasu," which is a ceremonial saying proclaimed prior to each meal, meaning something like "I graciously accept." The lunches were cooked on premises each and everyday, and I think it was different everyday too. Never were we ever served "mystery meat", "unidentifiable veggies", or "strange squishy things." Though not as pretty as Mr. Ferguson's lunches, my pre-school lunches were very tasty.

In elementary and middle school, my mom actually made my bother and I lunches every single day. Thanks mom! I loved loved loved all the food she made for us. We had cute little Obento Boxes, Thermos Bento boxes, cold bento boxes, you name it. Japanese bento boxes are really detailed and cute: I remember my mom would slice apples to look like rabbits, sausages to look like an octopus, onigiris (rice balls) to look like a princes, cute little toothpicks... kind of like this:
Bento box of a student in Mr. Ferguson's blog. (Image source)

In High-school in Japan, I went to an American School, and we had a cafeteria, as well as a "kiosk" that sold Subway sandwiches, KFC lunch boxes, bagel sammies, Omigiris (rice balls) and certain snacks like ice cream, brownies, yogurts, trail mixes, fruits, etc. The Cafeteria food was also very good. We had Daily Specials along with regulars. It was all a la carte, served on silverware, and handmade. We had Ramen Noodles (NOT cup noodles), Curry Rice, Meatballs, spaghetti, Chicken Katsu, Chicken noodle soup.... etc etc etc. Though both of the above mentioned schools are private schools, I have been to public schools too, and the food is not inferior to ours.

AND OMG! I can't believe students get so little time to eat in American schools, and get so little recess! My school had a full hour devoted to lunch every single day, sometimes even more. We got 3 recesses every single day too, on top of regular Physical Education classes. I can't IMAGINE giving a kid only 13 minutes for lunch! OMG!!!!

Food from Mr. Ferguson's school in Japan. (Image source)

I've never been to a regular "American" school other than University, so I can't speak on American schools. I was very fortunate to go to a University that cares a lot about health and food, so our Dorm Food was actually very yummy. But looking at the food displayed in Fed Up With Lunch.... wow. I would feel Fed Up too!
Lunch from the American School in Fed Up With Lunch (Image source)

OMG ew. That looks worse than airplane food. Ew. I wouldn't want to eat that. I would rather go hungry than put that slimy yellow burnt thing in my mouth. And I bet those veggies are way overcooked and bland. Ew. Nasty.

I know School Food is a big topic right now, with Michelle Obama's efforts and Jamie Oliver's new show. Growing up in a different country, I had no idea what American school food is like.

I think school and food are emotionally charged topics and I definitely don't want to offend anyone. But it did give me a lot to think about; one of them being "Glad I grew up in Japan." And, wow. I hope Michelle Obama's plans work. Soon. I hope the American kids get more time to eat and then go to recess. I hope things get better.

What was your school food experience like?


  1. Great post! I came across the first blog you mentioned earlier this week and found it very interesting/disturbing. I teach middle school, and am constantly amazed and preturbed at what passes for a nutritious lunch here... very heavy on the carbs, greasy, with few fresh fruits and vegetables. And this is an affluent public school district!

  2. Lack of physical activity and too many unhealty options in our schools are huge problems. But, I won't go off on a tangent. For me, like you, my mom made my lunch and when I was in high school, I made mine. I always jsut like food from home better. Interesting post.

  3. I just checked out both blogs... what an eye opener! :/ Thanks for the links.

    Truly DREADFUL what they are feeding our kids. Blech.

    Where I grew up, lunch was not availbale in school so we all brought our own. From what I remember, most of us had pretty healthy and balanced meals.

  4. You should Google "Coordinated School Health". The framework to make improvements is there, but there has been little enforcement by the DoEd to encourage districts to make the shift.

  5. I don't remember much about our school lunches - luckily my mom would make mine in elementary school and i made it myself when i started jr. high. Anything that was served was fried, processed and VERY unappealing. :P

  6. What I wonder is how the schools in Japan can afford those meals. I have helped write school budgets in my town, and with the schools being 80% of the tax bill, and the meals program self funded, it is hard to find the money for what we currently feed the kids. I wish I had the answers. Pay good teachers, get the kids enough excercise, feed them healthy food, and keep the taxes affordable. I just hope I provide my kids a good example by eating well and being active.

  7. Interesting! Thanks for sharing! Its so neat to compare the different types of food offered in each country!

  8. Great post and great links. There's a reason so many American kids are fat.



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