Thursday, September 29, 2011

BlogHer Book Club Review: Lunch Wars

It’s time once again for a BlogHer Book Club review! Just to keep everything out in the open with full disclosure and what not, this is a paid review. But as always, my thoughts are my own. ( I CANNOT BE BOUGHT! ) I wouldn’t tell you to read something that I didn’t enjoy.
LUNCH WARS: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health, by Amy Kalafa, is attempting to teach parents how to take on the school system and bring healthier meals into our children’s cafeterias. The book is full of information on the inner workings of the school lunch system. It details government involvement, funding, and how you can make changes. It includes alarming facts, such as the meat served in schools are held to a lower standard that fast food restaurants and are labeled as “pet food grade”. I just… I don’t know. This little fact honestly seems hard to believe.

Speaking of hard to believe, I had an issue with some of the casual claims the book makes to really drive home the point of needing healthier food for our children. I felt it was using scare tactics to get parents to feel like they MUST take action. It is implied that autism can be cured with a healthy diet. Cured. Kalafa also discusses how students are completely out of control after lunch due to the high amount of sugar and processed foods they take in. That they become unteachable. I know a lot of teachers, and they seem to disagree that the majority of students are unteachable after lunch. She says it as a personally observed statement, but when you put something like that in print you should back it up with well documented research.

Lunch Wars supports the idea of using local fresh grown foods and is strongly against highly processed and sugar filled options within our school cafeterias. These are two ideas I support, but I felt like 350 pages is a lot to read on the subject. This book is detailed to the point of making the idea of action seem daunting. And this is coming from someone working on a masters degree in public health who reads case studies and statistical literature on a regular basis.

Lunch Wars is a good read if you are passionate about what your kids are eating at schools and if you have a strong desire to lead the way in making changes. This book is really not for someone who is just casually interested in school lunches, which I guess was more where I stand. We will be discussing Lunch Wars over at Blogher Book Club for the next several weeks.  We would love it if you stopped in and joined the discussion!
BlogHer Book Club Reviewer


  1. Um wow, curing autism with healthy food? This author sounds like a wacko.

  2. I enjoyed your post. I definitely agree with the scare tactic statement. I personally think that Amy Kafala is an extremist and that she wants to push her ideals on the rest of America.

    They said we could be honest in our review, and that I was.

    I also found the book A LOT to read for a subject that is pretty basic. It was very redundant and I didn't like how the author didn't use a journalistic approach but how she was almost proselyting.

  3. I've only briefly looked at this book and I agree she's kind of over the top (okay, really over the top). However, I also think the food we're feeding our kids at schools is awful. I am in different schools, different school systems daily and it's universal - pizza and hotpocket looking things, corn as the only vegetable, nothing green, chocolate and strawberry milk, poptarts and sugar cereal for breakfast.
    I know that in at least one elementary school in this city disicpline referrals peak at about 10AM. That coincides pretty well with when one's blood sugar would dip after a particularly sugar-laden breakfast.
    I completely get why it's not an important issue for you right now. But, for me, as a parent of a kindergartener and a mental health therapist who gets all kinds of referrals for kids with behavioral problems at school, it's a big deal. (she says as she eats the rest of her honey nut cheerios...)