In this fine article, Tom Philpott regales us with the sordid tale of wanton whore bags from the industrial food lobby successfully preserving regulations that allow the lilliputian smear of tomato paste on a frozen pizza to count as a vegetable when calculating the nutritional merits of school lunches.
This inspired me to spend part of the morning peppering Governor Shumlin's twitter feed with perky pellets of 140 character cleverness asking why the fuck Vermont feeds our wee ones the bleached, irradiated, emulsified, amalgamated and most likely contaminated swill from outfits like Cargill, Tyson and Hood when we have such stark raving mad unrealized but nonetheless chomping at the bit capacity to meet the needs of our school lunch program with food made here.
Oh Governor, I said, what better way to strengthen our economy and the well being of our children than to commit to sourcing our public school lunch programs locally? Would it not be easier to shrug off the entire federally subsidized school lunch program, a program that offers a mere $1 per meal subsidy to our schools, than to hope (in the Derrick Jensen sense of hope: a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency) that the USDA will one day free itself from the clutches of the agribusiness interests which currently bend policy in the direction of their hungry gaping maw somehow not sated by the steady stream of agriculture subsidies already flowing thereto.
The thing about the corporate capture of regulatory agencies is that, well, they are somewhat restrained by the fact that they are captured. It is hard to imagine arguing that our energy would be better spent reforming the entire regulatory and electoral system of the United States than it would be developing a way for Vermont to feed this one small part of our population that already shows up in semi orderly fashion at the same place everyday.
How difficult, within the wider scheme of difficult things, would it be to put ovens and stoves back in our school kitchens and to have people there that can use them to prepare 2 simple meals for children? Can we really, in good conscience and without hanging our heads in shame say "the federal system only allows us to buy commodity beef and the local milk doesn't come in a box" and leave it at that?
We are admitting defeat in a much more expansive way than we intend if we throw up our hands and resign ourselves to supporting industrial milk because industrial milk comes in a box and local milk doesn’t come in a box so we can't serve public school kids local milk. That is "take us out behind the shed and make it as quick and painless as possible" type talk, folks.
Those boxes suck anyway, they are god damn near impossible to open.