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Ed Bruske's Posts

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Hey, White House — how about ‘Eat Lunch with Your Kid Day’?

If Michelle Obama and Sam Kass were to eat this recent DC school meal, it would cause a sensation.(Ed Bruske) The one thing never mentioned at all these White House events around childhood obesity is the food kids are actually eating at school every day. Let's see, we've had loads of kids to the White House to help in the vegetable garden. We've had pow-wows with food manufacturers and food service providers to talk about making food healthier. We've even invited a gaggle of chefs in their white jackets to spend a day on the White House lawn talking about how …

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DC rejects soda tax but funds better school food

The Washington, D.C. city council yesterday agreed to fully fund a recently approved "Healthy Schools" initiative -- providing more money for school food, as well as funding local produce in school meals and establishing grants to expand school gardens and increase physical education -- but not with a controversial "soda tax" as had been proposed. Rather, the city will begin imposing a more traditional sales tax of 6 percent on all soft drinks sold in the District. What, you might be asking, is the difference between these two approaches to taxing sodas? The beverage industry mounted an all-out assault on the …

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Lessons from Berkeley schools: The truth about kids and vegetables

Typical breakfast in a DC public school(Ed Bruske photos)The conclusion of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. Might as well say it straight up: Kids don't like vegetables. At least most kids don't like most vegetables most of the time. That's the ultimate lesson I draw after spending weeks in school kitchens from Washington, D.C., to Berkeley, Calif. And that certainly challenges the idea of produce as a magic …

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Forget broccoli — Berkeley students aren’t keen on beans either

Part 5 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. After spending hours sorting chicken pieces during my first day on the job in the Berkeley school system's central kitchen, I got a break. "How would you like to serve the kids at lunch?" asked Joan Gallagher, the sous chef in charge of kitchen production. "It's the most exciting part …

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Healthy breakfasts buy lunch in Berkeley schools

Part 4 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Breakfasts for Berkeley schoolkids are simple, healthy -- and cheap.(Ed Bruske photos)Around 8:30 each morning, students at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, Calif., cross an asphalt playground behind the main school building and begin drifting into a cafeteria and kitchen complex known as the Dining Commons …

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Two Berkeley chefs make healthy food that kids will eat

Part 3 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Berkeley Public Schools Executive Chef Bonnie Christensen(Ed Bruske photos)Executive chef Bonnie Christensen was at her desk, holding forth on her troubles with labor unions, when her second-in-command, sous chef Joan Gallagher, walked into the kitchen office cradling a bunch of asparagus freshly picked and just arrived in a 350-pound delivery …

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Berkeley school food revolution’s secret ingredient: parents

Part 2 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Eric Weaver's son is a freshman in college now. Back when he was in kindergarten, Weaver volunteered at his school, where he couldn't help noticing that the kids were sneaking into the teachers' snacks. Not only were kids hungry because they hadn't eaten breakfast, Weaver discovered, but what the schools were …

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No more nuggets: Berkeley schools serve Epic Chicken

In this second, multi-post set of his Cafeteria Confidential series, Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. My instructions, simple enough, were spelled out in permanent black marker on the cover of a brown pizza delivery box: Lay six chicken breasts down on one side of a parchment-covered baking sheet pan, lay four across, then fill all the spaces in between. The precise pattern, altered …

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The sweetener lobby: still a powerhouse in the school lunch debate

For the sweetener industry, shovelling empty calories to your kids has been very, very good business. They'd prefer not to stop. "Healthy Schools" legislation written by D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh comes up for its first committee vote today after months of deliberations and with one very conspicuous missing element: no regulation of sugar in school meals.  Removing the astonishing amount of sugar served to D.C. school children every day is probably the quickest and cheapest way to make school meals healthier. But you won't see any of that in the "Healthy Schools" legislation. How can that be, you might ask, when kids are …

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A teacher openly crusades for better school food–and gets seared

Colorado teacher Mendy Heaps: dangerous lunchroom radical--or fruit-cart-pushing concerned citizen? Mendy Heaps, a stellar English teacher for years, had never given much thought to the food her seventh-graders were eating. Then her husband, after years of eating junk food, was diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure and suddenly the french fries, pizza, and ice cream being served in the cafeteria at rural Elizabeth Middle School outside Denver, Col., took on a whole new meaning. Heaps was roused to action. She started teaching nutrition in her language-arts classes. She bombarded colleagues, administrators, and the local school board with emails and news clippings urging them to overhaul the …

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