The Food Police strike again: child with Oreos in packed lunch sent home with a note

Today Parents reports that a 4-year-old Colorado child was sent to school with some Oreo cookies in her packed lunch. She returned with this critical note from the Food Police at school, who had obviously been monitoring what the kids ate:

Seriously “if they have potatoes, the child will need bread to go with it”? Are they suggesting chip butties? And what’s the problem with peanut butter, for crying out loud?

The parents are pissed, and rightly so—even some of their friends became Leisure Fascists™! (my emphasis):

But Leeza Pearson of Aurora, Colo. thinks the school needs to butt out and said her daughter is perfectly healthy.

“We noticed last minute that we ran out of fruit or we would have put that in there instead,” the 22-year-old mom told “So we threw some Oreos in there.”

Shocked by the letter, which stated that students need to have a “nutritious lunch” and snacks that don’t include Lunchables, chips or fruit snacks, Pearson vented online, and said she was surprised to see the fury it generated on social media.

Critics called the letter “ridiculous” and Pearson said she’s especially annoyed because the school recently asked parents to provide candy for a class party.

“I just got a bunch of outrage from friends I hadn’t heard from in years,” she said.

Here are the miscreants:

Leeza Pearson and her daughter Natalie. Photo by Leeza Pearson.

Those meddling people need to butt out! I remember that on the day that my mother died, I bought a pack of cigarettes. I used to smoke a bit in college, but hadn’t bought cigarettes in decades. I was so distraught that, I thought, the only thing that would calm me down was a pack of smokes.  As I stood in line to buy them, some buttinski behind me proceeded to lecture me, saying, “You do know those things can give you lung cancer, don’t you?” And so on. I’ve never forgotten that jerk.

By all means crusade for healthier diets if you want. Lord knows Americans are way too overweight and many of them eat horribly on a regular basis. But do not single out people and lecture them for what they’re eating, smoking, or drinking. Chances are they already know the risks, and those lectures are the purview of one’s doctor, not strangers. This also goes for when I post photos of my meals on trips.




  1. Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Crazy!! I guess the pb is because of possible peanut allergies, but why demand potatoes plus bread?? Was Gwyneth Paltrow in on thia?

    • quiscalus
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      yeah, allergies are an issue and ought to be addressed when needed, but it was listed under “not a healthy snack”, which is news to me. IT’s a snack, not a meal. If they sent the kid with a whole package of oreos or just a jar of peanut butter and a spoon, then there would be a need for discussion.

      And why they think you need to have a potato AND bread? or why you would send a kid a potato for lunch, when schools don’t allow kids to heat things up…I’m confused.

      • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I really want to meet the parents of the grade-schooler who gets a baked potato in her lunch-box. I bet they’re pretty odd. (I wonder if “potato” meant chips (“crisps” for you Brits).)

        Seriously, though, peanut butter shouldn’t be classified as unhealthy. It’s actually a good source of fat, which is a necessary nutrient. Just don’t eat half the jar.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          I’ll heartily agree about the peanut butter…with a caveat.

          A number of popular commercial peanut butters are very heavily laced with sugar.

          If there’s only one ingredient, peanut butter is a wonderful food. If there’s two ingredients with the second being a moderate amount of salt, peanut butter is still a wonderful food.

          Any more than that an you have to proceed with caution, if at all.

          But peanuts are wonderful food. Indeed…you know all those “protein bars” and what-not marketed towards weekend warriors and generally eaten by overweight teens? You’d be hard pressed to find one of those that’s healthier for you than GORP — Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts. It’s practically the ultimate trail snack, and so damned cheap and tasty and easy.


          • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink


            The mass-produced PB doesn’t taste very good, anyway. At least not imo. Not peanut-y enough. There are some low-sugar, “natural” PBs that are good, but they’re expensive and kind of a pain to deal with because you have to re-mix it every time you use it: the oil separates and rises to the top.

            So I usually just snack on whole peanuts. They are hands down my favorite snack.

            • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              Any more, the only peanut butter I find worth eating is the type that you get from the grind-it-yourself machine — and only then at places that keep the machines clean and don’t let the peanuts go stale and so on. Unfortunately, such places also tend to have an almond butter machine right next to the peanut butter machine…and I usually have no choice then but to go with the almond butter. Buy it in small batches and you eat it up before there’s enough time for the oil to separate much…plus it doesn’t have that much of a shelf life compared to the prepackaged stuff. There’s a reason you have to refrigerate fresh-ground peanut butter but they can sell it commercially in jars next to the dry sugar-frosted sugar bomb cereal boxes…

              Peanuts are near the top of my list of favorite snacks. Cashews might top them, though….


              • Diane G.
                Posted May 2, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

                Almonds for me…

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

                Cashews and cashew butter!!

                Our WF used to have really good dark chocolate chips that you could grind in with peanuts in their do-it-yourself pb making machine. Sadly they don’t carry the excellent chips anymore, which I used to use for all my dark chocolate “needs”: baking, munching…I could just weigh out what I needed.

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

                You might hate me for this…but check out Scharffen Berger. They ship, and even package their products with ice packs where necessary….


              • merilee
                Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

                I tried Scharffen Berger once and just wasn’t nuts for the taste, disappointingly. All my favorite haunts for chocolate seem to have cheapened the chocolate on their chocolate covered almonds and chcolate almond bark. Not that S-B is cheap-, it just wasn’t for me.

            • Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

              We buy the jars with the “Stir me up” sticker on the lid.


              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

                “Stir me up….yeah babyyyyyy…”🎶

            • darrelle
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

              Keep the peanut butter in the fridge and it won’t separate again. The only pb we buy is stuff that is just peanuts. We mix it once when we first open the jar and then store it in the fridge and never have to mix it again.

              If it is too stiff for your purposes a few seconds in the microwave will soften right up. Or a few minutes sitting out at room temp.

          • kelskye
            Posted May 2, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

            Those protein bars also make for a good breakfast. They’re certainly easier (though less tasty) than making one’s own trail mix out of nuts, seeds, and berries.

            • merilee
              Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

              I used to make my own really great trail mix, but found that we ended up eating way more than necessary because it tasted so good.

          • Jonathan Wallace
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:28 am | Permalink

            Commercial peanut butters generally also contain palm oil (as indeed do many processed foods). Supplying this ingredient has led to the destruction of vast tracts of rain-forest in south-east Asia: another reason to prefer home-made or one or two ingredient PBs.

            I’d agree that PB is a very tasty and nutritious foodstuff.

            • Jonathan Wallace
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:29 am | Permalink

              Has led to the destruction of…”

              The destruction is still ongoing, of course.

          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            So that’s where the name GORP came from??
            Home roasted soy beans are also good in trail mix, as is small pieces of crystallized ginger.

            • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              That’s one of the great things about homemade trial mix…as long as you’ve got about half-and-half nuts and dried fruit, it’s gonna taste good and be an healthy on-the-trail snack…and then you get to pick whichever dried fruits and nuts strike your fancy in whatever proportions.

              Soy and ginger sound like a great combination. Might add some pineapple and macadamias at the same time, or maybe mango and pecan, or….


        • quiscalus
          Posted May 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          hey, as a kid, I would have gratefully accepted one of my step-father’s “loaded baked potatoes”, giant russets with butter, cheese, sour cream, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green onions, a pinch of salt, garlic, and loads of black pepper. as for p.b.,
          “just don’t eat half the jar”…
          yeah, and don’t sit down on the kitchen floor, eating out of the jar with a spoon, alternating between peanut butter and marshmallow fluff…not that I would do such a thing.

          • Posted May 2, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink


            That potato sounds good, but that would be one messy lunch box.

            I find PB goes best with bananas.

            • quiscalus
              Posted May 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

              peanut butter on waffles with banana slices and maple syrup.

              • merilee
                Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

                peanut butter and bacon on toast!!

              • quiscalus
                Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

                Elvis lives!

            • darrelle
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

              Fantastic on a good tart apple and, surprisingly, celery.

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

                Also surprisingly good on celery: cream cheese.


    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I too was puzzled about the peanut butter, but then it dawned on me that this is a reasonable restriction b/c of peanut allergies. My children used to explain to me that the allergic kids would be at their own table so pb and pbj sandwiches were permitted, but I see that different schools have different regulations.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        It is, however, ridiculous to state that peanut butter is not ‘healthy’. For anyone but allergy sufferers it would be perfectly healthy.

        What gets me about the letter is the fascist tone – “we need everyone’s participation”. My response would be “fuck your program then”.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:29 am | Permalink

          Oh, me too. I was never so tempted* to send my son to school with Cheetos, Twinkies and Coke as I was after the food police descended.

          *actually, never before tempted to at all, of course.

  2. SA Gould
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I believe they shamed the child, rather than sending a note home for parents. Not cool.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Yep, that happened to my son in elementary school, too. I was livid.

  3. nightglare
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Seems like an over-reaction in this case, but a lot of kids have horrible diets, which may affect not just their long term health, but also their ability to learn. Of course, it’s a sensitive issue how far schools should interfere with the choices parents make for their kids, but if the school makes the same rules for everyone, then they’re not singling anyone out.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      As Ben Goren points out below, it seems to have been a one off in this case. If they noticed a regular trend, there might be a case for intervention. But, as you say, this looks like an over-reaction.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        In this case, yes it is an overreaction. But maybe in order to aim at the junk-food pushing parents they feel they need to aim very broadly so that all parents get the message. A school is a very diverse place where kids from the suburbs share lunch tables with kids that are homeless or living generationally in public housing.

        The problem is that when a ‘0 tolerance’ policy is applied, like this one is, then the policy gets applied with 0 thought. Here in the States we have very strong prohibitions against a student bringing any kind of weapon to school (duh!) but the regulation is often so strictly applied that there have been many crazy incidences. For example, one kid got goddamm expelled for bringing a one inch plastic G.I. Joe plastic knife to school. His little finger was longer than the ‘knife’.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          I have zero tolerance for zero-tolerance policies.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:01 am | Permalink

            Me too. But then I have zero tolerance for overbearing stupidity dressed up as ‘policy’.

  4. Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s an interesting time to be a parent of young children – and since I have two adult offspring, I’m also aware of how things have changed in just the past ten years.

    As absurd as that note is, many of the parents are even more obnoxious – akin to Jerry’s cigarette scold – and somehow I feel this is all of a piece with the “safe spaces” trend, controlling others for their own good.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      “For their own good” is just a lame excuse. Those jerks who try to control others in reality make it to boost their own self-esteem and superiority feelings by bullying their neighbours.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink


  5. Negasta
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    My only response would have been:

    “Go f*ck yourself and the horse you rode in on!”

  6. Avis James
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I am inspired to go eat some peanut butter and apple! Yum!

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    If they have starch, they need more starch to go with it? Jebus! At what time were they dropped on their head?

    And meanwhile, George Washington Carver is spinning in his grave.

    • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      “My diet is totally balanced. I have a carbohydrate AND a carbohydrate. And for dessert, a carbohydrate.”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Mom carbs are delicious!

  8. tubby
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Wait, wait, since when was peanut butter not acceptable? Wasn’t it developed as an easy, palatable source of protein made from a food that’s in plentiful supply? Are peanuts not acceptable because some people have allergies? Or because other cultures find peanut butter weird and gross (/sarcasm)?

    I’m going to go sulk in a corner and eat peanut butter out of the jar.

    • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I trust you’ll eat the pb with your finger:-)

      • tubby
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        No, I’ll use a spoon until most of it’s gone. Then I’ll use a finger.

  9. quiscalus
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I guess that makes me a bad parent, maybe even a child abuser, for I actually allowed my child to eat french fries, pizza, nachos, cookies, cake, pies, sugary cereal, Halloween candy, and even soda! Shall I just surrender myself to the nearest police station?

    Of course we didn’t eat these things every day; they were treats. We also had fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, and as much home cooking with real whole foods as possible, excepting meat, we’re vegetarians, although I never forced him to be one. He’s now 17, 6’6″, 190 lbs, played baseball and tennis, and goes to the gym 6-7 days a week to lift weights. Yeah, all that junk food I fed him must be why he has a washboard stomach. I should have banned all those foods. I hope the rest of you can forgive me for such poor parenting.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I remember a busy day when we were having a take-out pizza night. That’s when my son mentioned that his homework assignment was to bring in a diary of his meals…I jumped up and put on some green beans…

      IME the easiest way to make a child covet something is to ban it. One of the girls in my daughter’s elementary classes had a Mom who was as strict and abstemious as it was possible to be about food. Her daughter was always gobbling down class treats, cadged cookies, etc.

      • Vaal
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        We are pretty relaxed in our house, no demonizing of any particular food: the kids can have treats, but we talk a lot about nutrition and eating well, and having a sense of balance. The boys seem to have absorbed the idea pretty well, both remain very fit etc.

        However, my 13 year old son has a friend who always comes over after school. He comes from one of the “everything tasty is banned at my house” scenarios. He goes NUTS at our place. He simply can not stop eating. He’ll grab a full box of our frosted mini wheats and literally eat the whole box unless I intervene, because he isn’t allowed such things at home. His parents say he comes home from our place stuffed, not wanting dinner, yet no matter how I try to intervene this little guy is crazed just being in the presence of foods he doesn’t get at home.

        My parents started off with the same “no sugary treats at our house” attitude. And when I would go to a particular pals house, Brad, after school I’d gorge. He had EVERYTHING, cookies, ice cream, there was always some sort of fresh baked cake or pie on the counter. I’d ask if I could have some and he’d say sure, whatever you want, and I’d go nuts. I’d be like “You mean, you have this stuff here all the time?” And he’d just shrug, yeah. And the thing that sticks with me is that I noticed how he wasn’t remotely crazed about gobbling it all up like I was. He could just take it or leave it, usually not bothering to have much.
        (Not to mention, he went on to become the most muscular, fit “envy of all the other guys/gets all the girls” dudes at school.

        I think I took part of that experience with me through the years to inform, for better or worse, my own parenting decisions.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:57 am | Permalink

          Sounds like our house. (Though the kids are grown and gone now, alas.)

          It was easier for me, though, because my parents brought me up the same way. I commend your response to your upbringing!

  10. Lowen Gartner
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if at some point society will find that the research of Dr. Lustig is right and determine that feeding children sugar is a slow death of poisoning and nearly as egregious an act as withholding western medicine in favor of homeopathy.

    • Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Oh, he’s right all right.

      But you instantly run into a brick wall when you try to legislate puritanism.

      Your right to smoke ends at my nose…but, so long as you’re not subjecting me to your own vice, go knock yourself out.

      Some thing with booze. You want to kill your liver? By all means; go do so. Just don’t drive while drunk or otherwise endanger others, of course…but feel free to do whatever you like to yourself.

      Childhood nutrition is, granted, a bit different. We don’t let kids drink any amount of alcohol…but how’s that supposed to work for sugar? Legislate a limit of fifteen grams per day…and enforce it, how, exactly? Sugar rations? And black markets and drive-by gang shootings and…?

      In egregious examples, that’s what child protective services is for. A six-year-old who shows up to school drunk every day…probably shouldn’t remain in that house. A six-year-old who drinks a liter of soda a day and never eats anything healthier than a Snickers bar…probably shouldn’t remain in that house.

      But, past extreme examples?

      What cure could possibly be better than the disease?


      • nightglare
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        “What cure could possibly be better than the disease?”

        Schools providing healthy, tasty, and state-subsidised lunches to all kids. A long shot in the US, I fear. All kids in England are entitled to free school meals in the first two years of schooling, and the Liberal Democrats have proposed extending this up to eleven year olds. Which I think is an excellent idea.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Ramen to that!

          I’d go so far as to suggest that, especially considering how many trillions of dollars we spend killing brown kids, we damned well can afford to give all students at all public institutions three squares a day.

          Whether or not the kids eat school food is up to the kids and the parents, but the cafeteria should be open to all students morning, noon, and evening.


      • Lowen Gartner
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        My life has improved immeasurably since I went on a Paleo/Keto diet. Mental clarity, energy and a leaner body.

        You articulate the trade-off well. So even if we can’t take full measures additional half measures may be appropriate. Perhaps the ill conceived attempt reported here is flawed in design and not in intent.

  11. Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    If this really was an one-off, there’s absolutely no excuse for the school’s behavior, even hypothetically.

    If they notice a pattern and practice of what they consider to be unhealthy nutrition, it would be reasonable to send the child home with a USDA or Mayo Clinic pamphlet or the like about nutrition. If it’s really bad, like the kid only ever bringing Twinkies and candy bars for lunch, maybe mention it at a regular parent-teacher meeting or offer to arrange a meeting with the school nurse.

    Past that?

    None of their damned business.


    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Mayo is not allowed. (Too high in fat and sodium)

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Sodium? They put salt in mayonnaise these days?


        Haven’t bought mayo in years; it’s just too quick and easy to make, and so far superior to anything I’ve ever gotten in an unrefrigerated jar….

        Trivial, really. Dump in a bowl a tablespoon (15 ml) each of vinegar and powdered sugar, a quarter teaspoon dried powdered mustard, maybe about as much dried powdered garlic or ginger or other spices if you feel like it, and an egg yolk. Beat smooth with an electric whisk. With the whisk going at the fastest speed that doesn’t make a mess, drizzle in half a cup to an entire cup (125 – 250 ml) of some neutral-flavored oil, like sunflower seed oil.

        Takes about as long to do it as it’s taken to type this…so what’s the point of the commercial stuff…?


        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          Never made mayo with sugar. Can’t stand the commercial stuff, but homemade is definitely worthwhile for some things, especially with lots of garlic…aioli.

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    What’s this milk requirement? Ordinary milk, that isn’t kept cold, loses its nutritional value after about 30 minutes, which means milk drinks in boxes, many of which are high in sugar. The requirement should be for water if they want to keep it healthy.

    And if peanut butter is forbidden because of allergies, there are those who are lactose intolerant too. I suspect peanut butter is there because it’s high in fat. That actually shouldn’t be a big deal if the kids run around and play at school.

    Like everyone else I’m bemused by the requirement for bread with potatoes, but chip butties are delicious! Not very healthy though.

    If only schools were as vigilant about what nourised a child’s brain mentally. Imagine no fights about teaching religion in science classes, or prayer in schools.

    • bjornove
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “Ordinary milk, that isn’t kept cold, loses its nutritional value after about 30 minutes”

      This is certainly not true. Milk contains protein, lactose, fat perhaps, and minerals like calcium, b-vitamins and more

      These all disappear after 30 minutes? Really?

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        It doesn’t lose everything of course, and I’m definitely not opposed to milk. My country is one of the world’s biggest exporters of the stuff, and it’s recognized for its quality. Our diets are also some of the highest in dairy products. But I am opposed to ordinary pasteurised milk being poured into a kid’s drink bottle for school unless it is refrigerated. Water is better for school, and is what is recommended for kids in my country. Cheese is better for a dairy snack at school.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          Remember, this is America we’re referring to. Where nobody eats actual cheese because it’s too expensive to sell at Walmart and is probably French anyway.

          Instead, we have Chez™-brand products brought to you by the good folks at Nabisco and the Real Foods Company! It’s a very popular flavoring addition to many of your favorite snacks and also available in an easy-to-use pressurized aerosol spray can for all your creative Chez needs.

          And you may think I’m joking, but, alas, I’m not….


          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:40 am | Permalink

            A story as told by my fave cheese dealer at my local farmer market:
            A family with an American exchange student, the kid was shocked, I tell you SHOCKED about all the different types of cheese. So she gave him an educational taste of a lot of the cheeses, nothing like what he thought cheeze was supposed to taste like.

            • Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

              Sad but perfectly believable….


            • Heather Hastie
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

              I’ve heard of spray cheese in a can, but can’t imagine it. It seems a bit weird to me. One of those cultural differences you don’t expect.

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

                It’s likely been well over a decade since I last encountered it myself…but…well, you know how you can also buy whipped “cream” in a spray can, much like shaving cream? I strongly suspect they start with the same “creamy” base; leave out much (but I’m sure not all) of the sugar; add in a fair amount of lactic acid, salt, and orange dye; slap a different label on the can; and call it a day.

                The sorry state of dairy products really gets me down. There is one and only one choice in my area for cream that’s actual real cream, unadulterated by carrageenan and what-not. It’s from Strauss Dairy, sold in glass bottles (with a $2 refundable deposit on the bottle that you have to return to the store to redeem), and really quite loverly — as evidenced by the fact that it bears not the slightest semblance with shaving cream, even after you’ve whisked it light and fluffy.

                (I might add that it’s also one of Baihu’s favorites, whether whipped or with Reggiano melted in or….)


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

          I agree about milk. Nauseating stuff. We had to drink the loathsome stuff at school, which has probably, perversely, actually helped the state of my arteries as it put me ‘off’ milk completely and I’ve never touched the revolting crap since. I have (low-fat) milk in coffee and that’s all.

          I get quite enough fat from other more palatable sources…

        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:16 am | Permalink

          I’m old enough to not only remember, but to have suffered from, school milk. It sat outside in the sun for about 3 hours and was absolutely revolting.

          It was supposed to be healthy, but the real reason was to help drain NZ’s milk “lake” and support the dairy industry. I’ve hated the stuff ever since, and only recently have I been able to stomach yoghurt.

          • Doug
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:37 am | Permalink

            This must be a NZ thing. In my schools (in the US), milk was always kept in the refrigerator until it was served.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

              The don’t have refrigerators in NZ.

              hehe I was making a funny.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                In those days we did have refrigerators, but we didn’t have dishwashers. Americans would bring them from home, to the amazement of all.

            • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

              In the UK 45 years ago, we each used to have a ⅓pt bottle of milk that had been sitting in a crate in the classroom all morning, sometimes in the vicinity of a radiator… Whatever her later sins, Margaret Thatcher (“the milk snatcher”) was in many people’s good books for stopping the practice.


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 4:48 am | Permalink

                That’s the best [/only good] thing I’ve heard about Maggie Thatcher. I guess it proves nobody’s entirely evil.

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:07 am | Permalink

          On a wider note, I agree with your comment about sugared milk drinks marketed as ‘healthy’. The same applies to fruit juices and fruit-flavoured juices (some of which contain little fruit) which are pushed as healthy options but are often highly sugared. Some granola bars are also rather less healthy than their makers would have us believe.

          It’s more than a little sad when parents are providing what they believe to be a healthy meal but have been mislead by clever marketing.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            Not to mention ‘energy drinks’ or ‘sports drinks’ which are mostly just sugared water sold at idiotic prices. If I want sugar water I buy Coke or Pepsi which is at least cheap (though more often I just drink tap water. NOT bottled water which is also just tap water sold at idiotic prices…)

    • tubby
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      I kind of miss the $.35 cartons of chocolate milk I got at lunch in elementary school. I wonder if these kids are even allowed to have chocolate milk on school grounds.

  13. Randy Schenck
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Let me get this straight. Oreo cookies are a no no in Colorado. But selling pot is okay. Baby, we have come a long way.

    • Doug
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      What if you bake pot into cookies?

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        That would be killing two birds at once. You get the munchies and get rid of them at the same time.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          Sounds like some sort of perpetual motion, with your waistline being that which ultimately moves….


        • John Frum
          Posted May 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          I once killed two birds when I was stoned.

          • Randy Schenck
            Posted May 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

            If you are British, how are we to take that? If not, please…I’m attempting to take pictures of them.

            • John Frum
              Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

              It’s a play on the saying “killing two birds with one stone”.
              I heard a comedian say it on radio years ago and it rather tickled me.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm | Permalink


  14. Michael Finfer, MD
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I understand the peanut butter request. Very young children can be very messy, and it is possible for allergic kids to have reactions because of peanut protein left on surfaces. Once kids become older and can be trusted to be neat, a restriction on peanut butter is no longer necessary.

    However, the other stuff, however well intentioned, is way too heavy handed for me.

    Schools are supposed to educate, so educate. I’ll bet if the kids understand what a healthy diet is, at least some of them will chastise their parents for not providing one or will simply ask for one. That’s the way to go.

    Of course, one needs to be careful with some older children, especially girls. I have seen some overly dramatic nutrition education trigger eating disorders. Moderation is the key in all things dietary, including education.

    • barn owl
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Children could also benefit from education about how to prepare healthy meals and shop for the ingredients. This training used to fall under “home economics” classes, which I think have all but disappeared, and are probably now considered oppressive somehow. You could call the class something else more progressive, and encourage both boys and girls to learn the basics of cooking and nutrition. It’s all very well and good to teach kids about nutrition, but how are they supposed to maintain a healthy diet if no one in the household knows how to cook?

      As an aside, the much mocked and often reviled Jamie Oliver has made efforts to teach children how to cook and prepare simple, healthy meals, with mixed success.

      • darrelle
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Huh. I’d never heard that about Jamie Olvier. What’s the story on that (mocked & often reviled)?

  15. barn owl
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen reports on a couple of successful efforts to desensitize children and adults who have peanut allergies. What’s still puzzling to me, however, is why the apparent incidence of peanut allergies changed rather dramatically in the last 30-40 years in the US.

    I grew up in a large, ethnically diverse US city and attended public schools throughout, and yet I can’t recall that any of my classmates had a peanut allergy. Pretty much all of us ate peanut butter sandwiches (and I still eat peanut butter and peanuts, in various formats, to this day). I remember that a few kids had allergies to tree nuts or shellfish, or couldn’t tolerate dairy products, but the peanut allergy thing seems pretty recent.

    On a related note, whenever I bring homemade treats to work or to a party or similar, I kind of feel obliged to make two or three different things: something vegan/vegetarian, something gluten-free, something nut-free, etc. I just wish the local Food Police would leave me alone about the one can of Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper I drink each day.

    • Michael Finfer, MD
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The incidence of all allergies, not just food allergies, has been increasing for the last few decades. We do not know why. There are a number of hypotheses out there, but much more work is needed.

      One of the more fascinating ideas is the hygiene hypothesis. The idea is that we have cleaned up our environment too much, and our immune systems are misbehaving because they are not being properly stimulated when we are young. A possibly related idea has to do with altered microbiomes. I think we will hear much more about ideas like this a few years down the road.

      • Michael Finfer, MD
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and attempts at desensitization with allergens that cause systemic reactions, like peanut protein, are quite dangerous and have to be done under very controlled conditions to salvage a patient who has a reaction.

        • Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          For some not all that surprising reason, I’m reminded of stretching to relieve lower back muscle spasms…if you’re not careful and aren’t in a position where you can rescue yourself if things start to tense up, you’ll be in for a world of hurt….


          • Michael Finfer, MD
            Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            The best I can do is possibly.

            Peanut protein can cross the placenta, so it is possible for an infant to be sensitized in utero. Then, reactions can occur as soon as the immune system is mature enough to produce the responsible antibody, IgE.

            Would exposure to small amounts of allergen prior to that point prevent the production of those antibodies? The study suggests yes, but the risks of getting this wrong are so great, a potential fatality, that I do not think anyone should try this at home until we have more guidance.

  16. KD33
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The letter may not have been appropriate in this case. But there are plenty of kids not getting good nutrition due to ignorant or lazy parents. I’m all for schools advising on healthy lunches.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Are you a parent?

  17. Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink


  18. Posted May 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    The school my kids go to, and many other elementary schools, are nut-free, so we aren’t allowed to send peanut butter sandwiches, etc. in lunches because of nut allergies. The comedian Simon Cotter does a good routine on this because his kid’s school even objected if you gave your kids peanut butter for breakfast. His response was “I don’t mean to sound callous, but if your kid can’t be around other kids who might have had contact with peanuts, then your kid isn’t going to make it.”

    When I first heard about this story on the radio, they only mentioned the Oreos, and I considered that perhaps the rest of the lunch wasn’t that healthy either. I haven’t heard anything to contradict this possibility, but I do find the school’s letter far too intrusive. I give my kids a healthy lunch which includes fresh fruits and vegetables, but I would object to the school then telling me what I had to include.

  19. kelskye
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    While I agree it’s important to teach good nutrition to children, the obsession with health is getting out of hand. Is it leading to any better outcomes? Is this difference between this generation and last simply a matter of education? I’m skeptical…

  20. Marella
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The statistics on childhood obesity in the Western world are appalling, 20% of kids are obese and more than 30% are overweight. 80% of fat kids will go on to be fat adults. Interventions to help these kids are notoriously unsuccessful, but the ones in schools tend to work better than others, from education, cleaning out crap from the school food dispensary (cafeteria or lunch room) and mandating school lunch standards. You would be amazed how many people think a small packet of chips is a reasonable thing to send a kid to school with, and for most kids it’s probably fine, but for the ones who are less active and with the wrong genetics it’s a disaster.

    As the parent myself of a fat kid who shook down the other kids for the snacks that I wouldn’t give him, I wish our schools had had such a policy when he was there.

    I think a note in the lunch box is a very reasonable way of handling such an issue. Expecting the teacher to wait for trends is asking too much, is s/he supposed to keep a record of every child’s lunch? I am impressed that s/he is sufficiently on the ball to notice a couple of Oreos. Details about the wording of the note etc maybe could be improved, and I am certainly not in favour of any action which would humiliate the child, but a note in the lunchbox is a private communication which no one would even know about if this mother hadn’t made it public. I understand her indignation, her child is not overweight and she has never had to worry about this issue, but the epidemic of childhood obesity is a huge problem for our society, and school rules around what a child brings to school are no less appropriate for food than for toys and other items.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      At my kids’ school, the food police patrolled the lunchroom assiduously, and spoke directly to the child whose lunch they disapproved of.

      • Marella
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        I can’t possibly approve of that sort of thing, but I would be fascinated to know what effect it had on the kid’s attitudes to and intake of snack foods etc. The evidence suggests that making that much fuss could easily lead to an increased liking of and desire for the foods which are stigmatised. Hardly a good outcome. They’ll probably end up eating Oreos while they smoke to complete their rebellion.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 5:23 am | Permalink

          Yes, I agree. I happen to think that what I eat is a personal thing and my private business. If I choose to ask or discuss it, fair enough, otherwise it’s an invasion on my privacy to try to tell me what I should eat.

          I must have been a difficult kid…

  21. kelskye
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    The other thing about this that’s bugging me is that it seems to be installing a sense of neurosis about food into children. Eating healthy doesn’t exclude the occasional snack (if the lunch box was nothing but oreos, that’s another matter), yet it’s enough to warrant a letter of concern. What relationship with food are we teaching children if even the slightest deviation from some notion of healthy is frowned upon?

  22. Amy
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    We support you, professor! Some people are just painful xss.

  23. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Shaming a child about eating is a sure fire way to make an anorexic and I speak from experience.

    Stupid people should butt out. I hate it when people lecture me about my diet coke consumption, which is much less than it used to be.

    • barn owl
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I’m normal weight and pretty physically active (bike, swim, walk, run, ride horseback), and people scold me for drinking diet coke all the time. “It will make you faaaatttt!!1!”

      When I was training for my first half-marathon, a friend (who has since moved to the US capital of anti-vax woo) chastised me for consuming Gu (or similar energy supplements). This is a person who speaks 4+ languages fluently, is a brilliant scientist, and is in just about every way imaginable much smarter than I am, but who has never even run a 5K or 10K, much less a half-marathon or marathon, and who has never trained for any sort of endurance event whatsoever. Yet ze was certain that I would become obese after consuming one Gu every time I trained or raced distances greater than 8 miles or so. I train with a local running club that includes people with years and years of experience running half-marathons, marathons, and ultra distances, and one of my training partners is a physician who’s run numerous half and full marathons, so I think they know what they’re talking about. Not everyone needs an energy supplement, and the Gu wasn’t easy to stomach at first, but I was getting mildly light-headed at distances over 8 miles, and that was the solution recommended to me. It worked fine, still not obese or overweight from Gu. YM, as they say, MV. 😉

      • Posted May 2, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        My brother-in-law similarly chides me for consuming diet soda, and I do drink a fair amount. I don’t think he understands that weight gain is a result of consuming too many calories; rather, I think he thinks there are just certain categories of food you can’t consume if you want to be healthy – soda in general being one of those categories.

        I tried pointing out that diet soda has no calories, but I don’t think he got it. Which is kind of amazing.

        • Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          I don’t think he understands that weight gain is a result of consuming too many calories; rather, I think he thinks there are just certain categories of food you can’t consume if you want to be healthy – soda in general being one of those categories.

          There’s a bit truth to both positions, with the problem being that metabolism is complicated and people tend to focus on just small pieces of the puzzle.

          Physics, of course, puts hard limits on the extremes, with “calories in = calories out” being the most obvious of those limits. The conservation laws are conserved in humans just like everywhere else.

          The complication comes from the fact that calories that enter the body don’t all leave the body the same way, if at all.

          First, all calories are fungible, so you can only meaningfully describe tendencies.

          But, that caveat aside, proteins are mostly used to build and repair muscle tissue; fats are mostly used for other tissues or burned for energy; carbohydrates are either burned for energy or stored as body fat; and fiber is mostly eliminated without being metabolized and generally takes other foods with it.

          Fruits are a good example of how complicated it can get. On the one hand, they’re basically nothing but carbohydrates. A fair amount of those carbohydrates is glucose, which is almost always simply burned for energy. An equal amount is fructose, some of which gets burned for energy but a significant amount of which gets metabolized by the liver into a small bit of glucose (which then gets burned for energy) and a fair amount of bloodborne fat and cholesterol. But the fruit also has a fair amount of fiber (also a carbohydrate), and that fiber helps regulate the metabolism of the fructose in such a way that you’re not likely to wind up with excess amounts of fat and cholesterol in your blood.

          …but, if you juice the fruit, especially if you filter it, all you’re left with is sugar water and your liver takes the full unbuffered hit from the fructose. And you don’t get the fiber filling you up and telling you you’ve had enough, so you’re likely to drink the juice and get the sugar of more fruit than you’d eat whole.

          And that’s how apples can be good, healthy food but apple juice is about as toxic, ounce for ounce, over time as beer. Drink a six-pack a day of apple juice and you’ll get the same beer belly as you would drinking a six-pack of beer. And, of course, treating yourself to some juice or beer or candy or what-not every now and again isn’t a problem; it’s when it becomes a regular and frequent habit that your body can’t catch up.

          The problem with diet sweeteners is that they’re typically metabolized by the liver. Anything that has to be metabolized by the liver is bad news, in time if not immediately. It’s why fructose is so much more of a problem than glucose; glucose is just absorbed by cells and burned by mitochondria, but the liver has to break down the fructose….

          All that’s just the food side of the equation. Activity determines how much energy you consume…but not so much as far as the calories you burn during the activity. That’s just a minor, almost trivial part of your energy budget. Most of your energy budget is determined by your basal metabolism, just keeping the lights on. The energy consumed from the movement of exercise isn’t all that much more than that, especially considered as a percentage of total calorie consumption over the course of a day.

          Rather, the big gain from exercise comes from the extra load you put on your metabolism from cleaning up the mess you make. There’s all the byproducts from anaerobic exercise to flush out — all the stuff that makes you feel sore the next day. That takes energy. There’s the muscle fibers you’ve broken down from using them; takes a lot of energy to repair them. And, especially, there’s all the new muscle growth you stimulate…and that takes a lot of energy.

          When it comes down to it, if you’ve got two people vegging out on the couch in front of the TV…if one is an elite athlete and the other a total couch potato who hasn’t lifted anything heavier than a remote control in years, even if they’re both the same height, weight, age, gender, and whatever else…the athlete is burning far more calories just sitting there than the couch potato.

          And that’s why the athlete can get away with eating so much more high-calorie food than the couch potato…and, incidentally, why young people who haven’t finished growing can eat so much more than old farts, and why old farts who don’t exercise and adjust their eating habits get fat.



          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink


            Achieving healthy weight loss (or for certain people, fat-loss) is indeed not a simple matter of kC in, kC out.

            But none of that is relevant to the fact that diet soda is calorie-free. I’m isolating the soda component. If someone is gaining weight drinking diet soda, it’s for other reasons: they are too inactive, they think drinking diet soda means they can overindulge in other treats, etc. Diet soda is just fizzy water with zero-calorie flavoring, and sometimes caffeine.

            I drink at least 24 oz. of diet soda every day and maintain not just a healthy body weight, but also a healthy body composition.

            • Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

              I’m not trying to dispute the fact that there aren’t any calories in diet sodas. There aren’t any. But there are substances in them that are metabolically relevant.

              Take, for example, styrofoam packing peanuts. They’re probably zero calories, too, or at least so I’d guess. And they’re pretty inert as far as such things go. You could, perhaps, eat a couple handfuls a day for quite some time without any noticeable ill effects…

              …yet that doesn’t necessarily make them an healthy alternative for rice cakes. (Even if, for the life of me, I can’t tell the difference between the two and would never voluntarily eat either.)

              And please note! I’m not trying to dissuade you from drinking diet sodas! I’m sipping a cup of coffee as I type, and I’ll probably have a piece of Turkish Delight to accompany it.

              I’d just encourage you to not assume that there’s no potential for ill effects from diet sodas because they don’t have any calories. Again, anything that the liver has to deal with (such as the fructose in the piece of lokum I just bit into) is something that, all else being equal, you typically don’t want in your stomach, unless it’s in low enough and / or infrequent enough doses that it’s not noticeable above the background noise.

              And, even then…I don’t begrudge Hitch his copious alcohol and tobacco usage. He knew it would probably kill him sooner rather than later, and it did, but he took great pleasure in his indulgences in the mean time.

              My objection is to the assumption that “zero-calorie” should be equated with, “healthy.” And it’s much the same way that “low-fat” is marketed as such. The stuff they put in the place of fat — again, typically sugar — is often worse for you than the fat itself…and fat isn’t evil in the first place.

              If you like whatever it is you’re eating and drinking, and you knowingly balance the risks and the rewards, you’re in a good place. Things only go off the rails when you try to deceive yourself, or when you’ve been deceived (intentionally or otherwise) by others.

              So…best to mostly drink just plain ol’ ordinary tap water. An eight-ounce / 250 ml cup or so of something — practically anything — else with one or two meals a day almost certainly isn’t anything to worry about. Once you start getting past that threshold, you owe it to yourself to make an informed decision and treat it like any other vice. Go for it if it gives you pleasure and you’re okay with the risk…but just do it with the same gusto Hitch did or that rock climbers do or anybody else who laughs and shouts in the face of danger.


              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

                Points all taken, and absolutely “zero-calorie” shouldn’t be equated with “healthy”. I was originally just exploring the possibility that people like my brother-in-law say “diet soda makes you fat” because they mistakenly think it’s fattening in the same way that cheesecake is fattening.


        • Vaal
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          I drink a diet coke a day. Mostly I eat well, though I certainly snack on enough treats that food fascists would have a field day with me. The fact I’m healthy allows me to keep them at arm’s length. And no doubt the amount of exercise I do helps out.

          Anyway, this thread reminds me of a recent experience at a local very popular farmer’s market. It’s definitely a market that skews heavily toward the “preservatives-are-evil-vegan-eating-tree-hugging” crowd (not that I’m against all that per se of course).

          A lady there make the most amazing Nanaimo bars, and I’m a fanatic about Nanaimo bars (look ’em up if you aren’t Canadian). I was purchasing one and mentioned how glad I am that she sells them, since several other places had stopped selling Nanaimo bars. She said “Thanks, but I”m sorry to let you know I’ going to be phasing out the Nanaimo bars soon.”

          Damn it!

          “Why?” I asked.

          She said, “Well, they contain Cain Sugar.”
          She and another woman helper had this look like “you know…”

          I was baffled: “Ok, they have Cain sugar. What’s the rap on Cain Sugar?”

          They both looked at each other and said to me: “Well, it’s, you know….a type of sugar.”

          Again, they had this “of course you know what we’re talking about” expressions.

          Me: “Uh, yes. It’s a desert. It has sugar. That’s what makes it tasty. I’m not following.”

          Them: “Well, a lot of people don’t really like sugar so much, so we will be using a substitute, another natural sweetener that is more nutritious. But they won’t taste the same, so we’re going to be making something else with those ingredients instead.”

          Then I remembered where I was – “health nazi central” – and I just sighed. “So is this the last batch of real Nanaimo bars?”

          “Yes, unfortunately.”

          Me: “I’ll take the whole tray.”

          I left with the mantra “Hippies ruing everything” circling my brain.

          • Vaal
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            LOL…”Cane sugar”….

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 5:35 am | Permalink

            *Googles Nanaimo Bars*

            Wow, those look, er, heavenly!

            • merilee
              Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              I have a real sweet tooth, but find these TOOO sweet – same with the butter tarts that Diana loves;-)

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

                I had to limit myself to buttertarts only once per week! I could eat them every day.

                Nanaimo bars are good but I find they can be a bit too sweet, even for me.

              • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

                I’d guess the traditional ones would likely instantly send me into a diabetic coma — and I’ve always had good blood sugar levels.


                It looks like the sugar probably isn’t needed for its texture or other mechanical properties. You should be able to make some very “sophisticated” variations on the theme that aren’t overpoweringly sweet.


              • merilee
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

                The buttertarts that are full of pecans I can handle. Cuts the sweetness.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 5, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

                I’ll eat any kind but I prefer plain.

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 5, 2015 at 4:05 am | Permalink

                Well, I guess I’ll just have to figure out how to experiment with both goodies…

              • Vaal
                Posted May 5, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

                I actually don’t care for items that are too sweet. There are certainly versions of butter tarts and nanaimo bars that are insanely sweet, but those are to my tastes the crude versions. That’s were the sheer sweetness overpowers the flavors.

                I find it a sign of great baking when those items aren’t too sweet. That’s one of the signatures of the nanaimo bars made by the women I have mentioned: they are deliciously smooth and creamy, the chocolate layer and creamy center just melt in your mouth, atop a nice crunchy chocolate/coconut crust.

                My favorite butter tarts are baked right around the corner at a french bakery. Again, they are notable for a filling that
                isn’t too sweet, so you get more of a caramelized taste, with hints of brandy (which they use in the filling), the pastry
                has a delicious, buttery, pie-like crust that
                yields perfectly as you bite through it.

                Oh damn, I know what I’m having tonight…

          • darrelle
            Posted May 4, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            They should try using Agave nectar in their recipe. I bet it would work great. And it is low glycemic and generally well thought of in healthy eating circles.

            • Vaal
              Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

              Perhaps, though I’m suspicious of classic treats made with “healthy” substitutes.

              Is there anything more sad than the health-food-store cookie? The ones that try to replace every tasty ingredient with the healthy-version ingredient, and of course lower fat.

              I’ve yet to encounter one that didn’t taste like a heap of dry, crumbly,held-together-with-baking-soda texture and taste.

              I decided quite a while ago that in my efforts to eat healthy I’d generally choose delicious fresh, healthy foods. Which is how I mostly cook. But when it comes to deserts and treats, I’m going for the real thing.

              • merilee
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

                100% with you on that. Vaal! Carob chips??? Puhleeeeze….Though I must admit that I have a fantastic recipe for brownies that happens to have wheat germ in it. Taste very chocolatey.

              • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

                I find it frustrating that carob is sold as an alternative to chocolate. It’s not an alternative to chocolate; the only thing it really has in common with it is the color.

                But carob is a wonderful ingredient! It’s a great-tasting legume with a lot in common with the various mesquites.

                Don’t try to pretend that carob is something it’s not, and it’s got great potential.

                Much like tofu…there’re tofu dishes that’re positively glorious — such as the ever-popular miso soup, or Jerry’s and my favorite, ma po tofu. But trying to make it something it’s not? Like tofu “lasagne”? A crime against the culinary arts!


              • merilee
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

                or tofurkey

              • darrelle
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

                Oh yes, absolutely. My go to example is ice cream. Frozen non-fat low calorie artificially flavored treat? No thanks. Frozen non-fat yoghurt? Go right ahead if you like. I’ll stick with the real stuff like Haagen dazs or the scratch made stuff from the specialty ice cream parlor.

                Mayo is another good one for an example. As Ben said it really isn’t too much trouble to make your own. But store bought can be pretty good too. Except for the fat free mayo. I mean, really. What the hell could it possibly be made of if it is fat free mayo? It is absolutely horrible tasting, really nasty stuff. And if it doesn’t have any fat in it then it is so far different from what mayo is that it should not be legal to sell the stuff labeled as mayo.

                Similar beef for “cheese food.” What the hell is that anyway? The stuff that cheese eats? You know you shouldn’t eat it if their main selling point is that “our stuff actually has some real milk in it!”

              • Vaal
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink


                I’ve always wondered what in hell people in the past would think if they were presented with labels and advertisements for 21st century food items. The amount of “now with REAL CHEESE” “contains real fruit,” “%5 real milk” type declarations would probably make them recoil in horror. “In the future, they’ve replaced everything real with fake stuff, to the degree they have to brag if they even have a bit of real food in it. *shudder* what kind of future is this…?”

                But when it comes to the artificial cheese thing, I sheepishly admit to somewhat welcoming our fake cheese overlords. That is, I love real cheese and eat it all the time, but certain fake cheese products have a charm (like crack cocaine) of their own.
                That weird-assed half-warmed gloopy “cheese” sauce for nachos? I’m down with it, in a pinch. All my rational nerve endings may be signalling “wrong, wrong, wrong” but this stuff has been constructed scientifically to
                make me crave it, and in the end science wins.

              • SA Gould
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

                Cheese Waffies. I don’t care what they’re made of. I love them. But only when the come in a box that keeps them intact, not crumbled and broken.

              • merilee
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

                Remember Chi Chi’s? Mostly good food, but we once ordered something with cheese on top and the melted “cheese” maintained 90 degree angles…

              • Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

                If you’re aiming for “healthy” in your indulgences, you’re missing the point. If it’s really an indulgence, it should be rare enough that there’s no harm in the occasional indulgence. If it’s frequent enough that “healthy” is the goal, you shouldn’t be aiming for “indulgent” at the same time — save the indulgences for special occasions.

                That writ, there are some indulgences that happen to be made with some healthy ingredients…for example, my parents make a coffee cake that would be right at home in any high-end pastry shop…and they use whole wheat pastry flour. It’s got a wonderful texture, all light and fluffy; a beautiful golden color; and a depth of flavor to it that you just wouldn’t get with sifted flour. Of course, being a coffee cake, it’s got plenty of sugar in it; the whole wheat flour is there because it happens to make the best cake, not in an effort to make it somehow “healthy.”

                You want healthy? Don’t eat cookies. You want cookies? Don’t try to make them healthy. Simple as that.


              • merilee
                Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

                Last week I ran into a little bakery run by a woman from Tazahkastan (sp?) in which there were samples of “vegetable chocolate cake” which was made in a very high end titanium slow cooker and contained zucchini, beets, cabbage and chocolate, and I guess a few other things. It was surprisingly delicious.

      • Posted May 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Permalink


        Anyway, point being, perhaps that’s also why other people “tsk, tsk” those they see drinking diet soda? They don’t understand the relationship between calorie consumption and weight gain? Or they don’t understand that diet soda is calorie-free?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:01 am | Permalink

          Never fear, if it’s not that, they will chide you for the aspartame.

          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

            I rarely get headaches, but aspartame and other aetificial sweeteners I’ve tried are guaranteed to give me a whopper.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

              What’s funny is I drink diet coke to settle my stomach and head a bit when I get a headache. Friends who get migraines say the same.

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                Could be the caffeine that helps. It’s a vasoconstrictor.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

                Yeah I’ve wondered the same. Also I get very thirsty during a migraine and it quenches my thirst really well.

              • Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

                It’s a common ingredient in over-the-counter pain medication. If I remember right, Midol is just acetaminophen (Tylenol) with caffeine.

                …and my back does seem to be better after a cup of coffee than before, but it’s hard to tell….


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      I do so love it when people criticise what I’m eating for morning tea. So I can tell them to fuck off 😉 Didn’t happen very often though.

      (I used to eat my breakfast at morning tea time. I had better things to do in my lunch hour than eat. I suppose they didn’t notice how much I wasn’t eating at lunchtime…)

      • Doug
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        My favorite is when chain smokers lecture me about junk food. “You’re putting THAT into your body!?” I tell them I won’t criticize their smoking if they don’t criticize my diet. And yes, this pisses them off.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Someone once told me that drinking diet coke was bad for me and I said, “so what, people do bad things all the time: they drink alcohol, smoke, tan/burn their skin in the sun so leave me along about my diet coke.”

          • Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            Human metabolism is weird and often contradictory. It’s a complex system where a substance can cause a symptom in one person and alleviate the same symptom in another person….


      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Please explain “morning tea time”. Is that elevenses?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          Second breakfast. 🙂

          • Merilee Olson
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

            When we lived in London in the early 60s for a couple of years my mother got a kick out of the weekly(?) gardener always knocking at the door around 11 and demanding tea. And I seem to remember his wanting the best china, despite muddy hands:-)

            Typo ergo sum Merilee


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:51 am | Permalink

          Yes, elevenses, except in my case it’s 9-30 or 10a.m.

  24. Diane G.
    Posted May 2, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Part of the problem today, I think, is the constant focus on food!

    When my kids were young I was amazed at how many activities I was supposed to take a turn at bringing treats to. Every soccer game, every play group, every extracurricular activity. Seriously, kids can go a couple of hours or so without eating!

    • barn owl
      Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Many of the medical students I teach bring an array of snacks to get them through a two- to three-hour exam. I asked a couple of them about it (out of curiosity, not in a shaming way), and they said that the Kaplan prep courses for the MCAT include a discussion of what kinds of snacks to bring for “exam fuel” and when to eat them.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Now that would just distract me! Especially listening other people eat theirs…and just having food odors in general!

      • kelskye
        Posted May 2, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        From memory, we were only allowed water in our exams. I’m blaming the lack of snacking for my mediocre results!

        • merilee
          Posted May 2, 2015 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

          I don’t even remember being allowed water!

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, wasn’t it “Two #2 pencils!” and that was it?

            • merilee
              Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

              Yup! Not even calculators, I don’t think. (and we had to walk 2 miles uphill in the snow…;-)

              I do remember taking a 3-hr biochem exam in ’73 or ’74 when there was the so-called Arab oil crisis and we had no heat in the auditorium and we had to wear gloves and coats while taking the exam (in Jan in Northern Cal.)

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 2, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:47 am | Permalink

            Yeah I don’t remember being allowed water either. Also, remember in elementary school when you practically had to beg to go drink out of the gross fountain?

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:39 am | Permalink

              Bleah, I could have done with not remembering that…

    • Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      We took turns bringing orange wedges to our kids’ soccer games. Pretty reasonable.

  25. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    While on the subject of official fascist stupidity, aka ‘safety’, gone out of control, here’s a lulu:

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      OMG, that’s horrible! How else can she tolerate those mind-numbing rides? Or tune out all the aggravation around her?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I posted that one on my FB wall & then a friend from Toronto posted a sign to a park there that said there was “no running” in the park.

      This winter, several parks banned tobogganing for crying out loud! I remember people contested this & some places were reopened.

      Governments – let us take calculated risks for enjoyment!

      • Doug
        Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        Don’t let kids do anything, and then wonder why there’s a childhood obesity epidemic.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

          Quite aside from the value of exercise in countering overweight, if they’re busy doing stuff they’re less likely to get bored and hence less likely to start snacking as a relief from boredom.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 3, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          And how boring! The 70s had its issues but at least I got to go tobogganing (especially on snow days)& I could read on a bus (though I never did because I get motion sick) & I could run all I wanted in a park.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Last year my son, 10 at the time, was brushing his teeth at school, in the lunch room, after eating his lunch, when a “lunch patrol person” (school admin) made him stop and told him he wasn’t allowed to brush his teeth!

      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink


        Never occurred to me that an administrator would tell kids to not brush their teeth.

        Then again, despite the tireless heroes in the education system, there’re also far too many petty tyrants in it for all the worst of reasons.


      • Diane G.
        Posted May 4, 2015 at 2:34 am | Permalink



  26. Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    @Ben: though, unlike you and Baihu, I am not crazy for whipped cream ( though love home made custard – not Bird’s), I do think that some of the stuff you can get in shaving-cream-like cans IS the real thing ( and not edible oil product like CoolWhip).

    • Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen something with such a label at Whole Paycheck, but wasn’t at all interested to investigate further. Not when there’s Strauss in the dairy section, and you can’t make a cream sauce with something resembling shaving soap.


      • Posted May 3, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Reddi Whip is apparently real cream. I never use it myself, but have seen it at parties. You can get it at any supermqrket but it’s not what I’d ever use for cooking. Baihu would probably not reject it, though, and it would keep a long time in the fridge.

  27. Michael
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh my, chip butties! I’m reading this at an unreasonable time in the night and now I’m hungry for a carb overload that would not comply with this school’s policy 😦

  28. Wayne Tyson
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Something is getting to resemble Twits without a limit on characters. And WHAT characters!

    Goren, a physician, and maybe a few others have desperately tried to lend some reason to the emotional emoting, but alas, when otherwise brilliant folks write nonsense, reasoning will not stop the flood. If your assessment that I am a fool, for example, is correct, reasoning will have no effect–by definition.

  29. paul collier
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    It is arguably not the business of government to tell parents how to raise their kids, but any one who would think that oreo cookies comprise a suitable school lunch is not suited to be a parent.

    • Posted May 4, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      No one was giving a school lunch comprised of Oreo cookies to any kid.


  30. Posted May 4, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    What is the *real* data on the danger of peanut oils in the air etc. to the allergic? Schools from what I have heard in some places seem to have a zero tolerance policy, based on some notion that if there’s anything at all around some kid is going to die. This doesn’t sound plausible, but …

  31. Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I suppose it depends where you live. Many parents seem to think it acceptable to stuff their children full of salty or sugary foods. Those parents are the victims of the food industry. The children (& adults) of the poorer people will be more likely to get diabetes/obesity/high blood pressure, become a burden on a state health system as in the UK. I think it probably is acceptable that where the state DOES have a stake, i.e. healthcare (with a limited budget) that there is state interference in the food industry to control those things.

    The poorer the person, the more likely they are to eat junk food that is bad for you (in bulk) & the lower the life expectency.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      “Those parents are the victims of the food industry.”

      I disagree. They may be the victims of poverty, of poor parents themselves, of inferior education, even of apathy, but not of the food industry.

      Industry survives on what it can sell. To try to sell the public what it “ought to” consume is usually corporate suicide.

      I agree with the need for government intervention, but feel it more properly lies in ameliorating poverty, improving education, etc.

      • Posted May 7, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        The fast food industry has learned an awful lot from the tobacco industry. They know what they’re selling is harmful, but they keep pulling every marketing trick they can think of to keep selling as much as they can.


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