A matched set on Leftism’s theoretical virtues

Whoopi Goldberg got some airplay on conservative sites the other day for pointing out something I’d already learned by the time I was 13 — Leftism is great in theory, but it doesn’t work so well in the real world.

To that “duh” moment (although I doubt it will convert her from worshiping at the Leftist altar), I offer another bit of hard evidence, in the form of the “healthy” lunch program that the L.A. Unified School District has implemented to huzzahs from the feds. It turns out that making “healthy” food for 650,000 kids a day, while it looks great on paper, doesn’t work in the real world:

For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.

There’s just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.


The new menus are in line with the federal government’s updated dietary guidelines, which recommend, for instance, that fruits and vegetables make up half the plate. L.A. Unified has virtually eliminated canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, boosting spending on fresh produce from $2 million in 2006 to $20 million in 2010.

For months before introducing the new fare, the district held community taste tests and collected 300,000 comments — 75% of which were positive, Binkle said.

But Barrett said the debut was a “disaster.” Participation plunged by more than 13%, he said. About two-fifths of the loss was tied to 99 schools that temporarily resumed requiring lunch tickets; typically, a drop-off is expected when this occurs. In the last month or so, the overall program has begun to recover; participation is down by about 5% or 6%, Barrett said.

Michelle Malkin, naturally, eviscerates this government boondoggle, which turns out to have little to do with children’s health, and lots to do with feeding the unions:

There’s nothing wrong with encouraging our children to eat healthier, of course. There’s nothing wrong with well-run, locally based and parent-driven efforts. But as I’ve noted before, the federal foodie cops care much less about students’ waistlines than they do about boosting government and public union payrolls.

In a little-noticed announcement several months ago, Obama health officials declared their intention to use school lunch applications to boost government health care rolls. Never mind the privacy concerns of parents.

Big Government programs “for the children” are never about the children. If they were, you wouldn’t see Chicago public school officials banning students from bringing home-packed meals made by their own parents. In April, The Chicago Tribune reported that “unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.” The bottom line? Banning homemade lunches means a fatter payday for the school and its food provider.

Remember: The unwritten mantra driving Mrs. Obama’s federal school lunch meddling and expansion is: “Cede the children, feed the state.” And the biggest beneficiaries of her efforts over the past three years have been her husband’s deep-pocketed pals at the Service Employees International Union. There are 400,000 workers who prepare and serve lunch to American schoolchildren. SEIU represents tens of thousands of those workers and is trying to unionize many more at all costs.

In L.A., the district’s cafeteria fund is $20 million in the hole thanks to political finagling by SEIU Local 99. The union’s left-wing allies on the school board and in the mayor’s office pressured the district to adopt reckless fiscal policies awarding gold-plated health benefits to part-time cafeteria workers in the name of “social justice.” As one school board member who opposed the budget-busting entitlements said: “Everyone in this country deserves health benefits. But it was a very expensive proposal. And it wasn’t done at the bargaining table, which is where health benefits are usually negotiated. And no one had any idea where the money was going to come from.”

I’m going to throw in one more thing here:  Do you think it’s a little peculiar that, when they shift to healthy food, the menu suddenly gets foreign?  I have nothing against food from other countries.  While I’m not a fan of Latin American food, I love foreign foods, especially Asian foods.  But the subliminal message I get from the menu isn’t just that food from other nations is yummy and that we should all broaden our palettes so that we get more pleasure from dining.  Instead, the wholesale abandonment of an American menu seems to me to say that all American food is unhealthy, which is just one more bad thing America has done to the world.

Question for you:  Is my last statement a sign that I’m one step away from wearing a tinfoil hat or am I correctly recognizing yet another slap at who and what we are in America?

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  • Wolf Howling

    You are not a step away from a tin foil hat.  After years of watching left wing attacks designed to create fundamental, anti-American change – often masquerading as something else – one becomes conditioned to assuming that there is fire whenever the smoke becomes visible.  You only get to the tinfoil hat stage when you skip the necessity of seeing the smoke before screaming “fire.”

  • Al

    No, BW. You are not sizing yourself for a tin hat or a white jacket. I caught the reference to Thai foods as yet another not so subliminal dig by our betters that we do not have the intelligence to properly feed our young.
    And I will bet you that the unionized caffeteria workers go home and prepare hot dogs and beans and burgers and fries for their own children.
    Rush talked about this today.Apparently, there is a growing black market in junk food in the LA School District. And I may not have heard this right, but I thought I heard Rush say that some teachers were providing some of the “bad” food to the students. Of course, in any black market, there is always profit.
    Happy Hanukkah

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Al Capone made profit off Progressive prohibition of alcohol and made it into an organized crime ring. the Left is simply experimenting with the same methods.

  • suek

    Well…yes and no, I think.
    We’re pretty well fed in the US.  The traditional diet is pretty much “meat and potatoes”.  Other countries aren’t nearly as fortunate – so their diets are much heavier on fillers and much lighter on the meats…thereby in this day and age, considered to be much “healthier”.  I don’t know what the average life span in those other countries is, so I don’t know if that’s a reasonable judgement or not.  I suspect it’s not, but you can chalk that up to natural prejudice.
    So…if you make the judgement that the traditional diet is not healthy, then I’m not so sure you can say that’s really anti-American.
    The problem I see is that 100 years ago or so, the diet was also meat and potatoes, but people – especially kids – were much more physically active, and homes were kept at lower temperatures, so their weights weren’t so much of an issue.  If those who were overweight lived long enough, the excess weight served as a reservoir in times of hardship or ill health.  Early deaths weren’t so much an issue of overweight as they were due to other unrelated causes. 
    The other thing I think is an issue, is the lack of recognition that almost _all_ animals resist changes to their diets.  There’s an old story out there about a farmer who tried to feed his pigs corn, but they wouldn’t eat it – he switched from one feed to another without any conditioning time.  They should have introduced this as a ten year program or something – introducing one food after another…maybe linking it to the native nationalities of students or something.

  • Michael Adams

    Well, if it’s a tin foil hat, it’s the tin foil Fedora of Truth, so, wear it with elan!
    I don’t know that they are so much trying to make an antAmerican statement with the food as reflecting the mind set that third-world is better, more small-planet, whatever.
    Sue, the life expectancy is longest here, except that other countries count the numbers differently.  They don’t include very low weight babies, or any babies who live less than a week or two outside the womb. Deduct all the babies who do die in those first days, and the average rises. People are always falling into that trap,  e.g. the idea that people in ancient Greece died young, because of their high infant death rate.  Actually, Greeks in Socrates’s day lived to quite productive old ages, usually without dementia, BTW. The average is a guess, anyway, but, with the baby girls exposed on temple steps, and whatever, it went pretty low.  Likewise, in the modern era, child death rates are horrific in many third-world countries, but, if you live past the age of five, you can get pretty old in Nigeria. Incidentally, dementia in old age is much more rare in Africa.  Various hypotheses are offered to explain this, like the lack of aluminum cooking utensils, or no fluoridation in the water, I’ll get back to you when I know.  Alas, I’ll probably be drooling by then. For now it’s just a bit of geewhizzery.

  • expat

    I wonder why they don’t use frozen or canned vegies and fruits. Frozen ones especially are supposed to retain most nutrients. 
    The foreign foods thing is just a part of being sophisticated, and everyone knows that Americans are rubes.
    The real problem with this whole initiative is that MO and friends don’t understand that their is a mother/child feeding bond that affects a kid’s tastes for life. Aside from  broccoli or brussel sprouts hatred or the tendency to eat the potatoes first, most kids eat what they are given by their mothers. If they see that their mothers have made an effort to prepare that food and if the mothers make some effort to include their favorites once in a while, the kids will generally accept most foods as OK and eat a balanced meal. With all the frozen meals like pizzas and fast foods, all the kid experiences is which package from the freezer or which kid’s meal is chosen. There is little association with the mother’s effort to provide for the kid.  A school lunch is just too anonymous to change a child’s taste, and quinoa will lose out to doughnuts and Doritos every time. 
    We have lost the many small rights of passage that encouraged girls to help with cooking and then progresssed to their being able to cook for the family. It used to be understood by most that this was what mothers are supposed to do. Maybe it even signalled that 14 year olds were not ready for motherhood.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Americans are far larger than Asians, Africans, Philippinos, or even Europeans. The reason is simple. Americans don’t have to deal with lack of food. The world treats this as a problem and calls it obesity endemic, but that’s because it’s a great way to avoid saying “the Americans provide plenty of food while we let our children starve and get stunted growth”.

     Remember, it’s all about honor and face. Never about the truth or the benefit of human of progress.

  • suek

    >>…that’s because it’s a great way to avoid saying “the Americans provide plenty of food while we let our children starve and get stunted growth”.>>

    Out of the depths of my brain is the memory from somewhere that in the past the Hawaiians considered the condition of fat as being display of a person’s wealth. A fat leader with multiple fat wives was indeed a rich man…but I don’t know where the memory came from, or how accurate it is…

    However, connecting this and the holiday foods thread…

    my recipe for Callaway cookies….

    Why a holiday food? Not really seasonal ingredients – but expensive ones.

    I remember when stockings hung by the chimney with care were filled with apples, oranges and nuts – and a couple of very small gifts. Big deal, right? but even in the 40s, fresh apples and fresh oranges were expensive treats, and nuts are still expensive. It wasn’t so much the seasonality of the food items, it was the rarity, or cost that was the major factor. Raisins, for example were pretty expensive – but today at Costco, I can buy about 5 lbs for about $8. One cup is about 8 ounces, or about .50 worth. Not so expensive.

    In fact, although I complain as much as the next person about the price of foods, and shop around for the best deals in town – we have such a choice of good, plentiful and cheap foods that anyone who complains should be ashamed.

    My solution for the food choice problem? I’d start with “what’s your favorite food that your mom makes?” Take the top ten, and start from there.

    Then I’d start Home Ec classes. Hey…start them in 1st grade. Little kids can do stuff in the kitchen…! Short “what is this” lessons. Introduce veggies through biology (Life Science) classes…
    In our area, they could even do field trips to local farms!

  • heather

    Out of the depths of my brain is the memory from somewhere that in the past the Hawaiians considered the condition of fat as being display of a person’s wealth. A fat leader with multiple fat wives was indeed a rich man…but I don’t know where the memory came from, or how accurate it is…

    Still the case in at least some parts of Africa.  

    My kids are getting an orange and some old-fashioned nuts in their stockings in a few days.  By old-fashioned I mean that they have to be cracked with a nutcracker.  

  • jj

    Last year the Seattle school district (Disorganized and Stupid as opposed to Unified) decided that they were going to clean up the vending machines in the schools.  They took out soda, put in stuff like tea, fruit juices, etc. – and removed the cookies and candy bars  to replace them with fiber bars and stuff like that.  The vending machines used to bring in $250,000 a year, district-wide, which was used for uniforms for sports teams, and a variety of after-school stuff.  The schools are now closed until January, so the year’s done, the numbers are in, and in 2011 the vending machine revenue went from 2010’s $250,000 to $17,000.  The school district plans to “think about it” in 2012.  We’re hopeful that they don’t break anything inside their heads.

  • http://bkivey.wordpress.com/ bkivey

    From my studies of history and economics I’ve noticed that in every command-and-control economy, a black market (e.g. capitalism) exists. I would submit that capitalism is the natural economic system for human societies, and the further a society deviates from that system, the less successful it is. The economic struggle in society is between those whose primary motivation is personal security (Children), and those who understand that risk is part of living (Adults).

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    They don’t need the money from vending machines. They’re just going to tax it from the rest of you peons working in the fields to pay for their shat. If they still don’t got enough money, they’ll use media propaganda to complain about Republicans cutting education funding and how this “stunts” the education and smartness of all the chilldrin.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Look at any first or even second generation Asian family. The children are almost 6 inches taller than their parents. Giants in the making? Something in the air here over at diseased America? That’s what the Euros said about the US back in the day, that there was “something in the air” here which allowed republican values to run wild and crazy.

    Yea sure.


  • Libby

    American foods like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and mac’n cheese are bland, but they can be spiced up as needed by the eater and they’re usually paired with something else that has more flavor (i.e. mac’n cheese and stewed tomatoes). Conversely, vegetarian curries, tamales, and pad Thai noodles are spicier and more aromatic – and you don’t have the option of picking and choosing the ingredients. Since a lot of kids may not have yet developed a palate for spicier/aromatic food, it would make sense that the standard fare is eaten more than the exotic. I happen to have a kid who is a picky eater – he has an acute sense of smell and he’s turned off by any foods with a strong odor. He would starve (or I’d have him smuggle in food) if he were forced to purchase school lunch in L.A..

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Spicy food is not recommended for active young individuals. Spicy foods is hard on the digestive system, and acidic to boot. Sick people can get really sick because of it. On the other hand, spicy foods are a great way to get some minor vegetable vitamins and can boost the metabolism and sweat production. But my course was always to drink milk, a base nullifier, after spicy food and I never had digestive issues because of spice.


    The major difference between America and the rest of the world is protein. Americans are rich in money and time enough that they can worry about things like that. Asians eat rice and vegetables. Meat is a rare commodity. It’s China still looks around for cats and dogs in certain places. Free meat sources, you know.