Ed Bruske

A reporter for the Washington Post in a previous life, I now tend my "urban farm" about a mile from the White House in the District of Columbia and teach kids something I call "food appreciation." I believe in self-reliance, growing food close to home and political freedom for the residents of the District of Columbia. I am currently working to introduce local produce into the D.C. school system. I write a daily food blog called The Slow Cook.

Cafeteria Confidential

New study says school food may make kids fatter

A new study from the University of Michigan finds that kids who eat the food served in schools are more likely to be overweight or obese than peers who bring lunch from home, and also are more likely to suffer from high levels of “bad” cholesterol. The study, which examined the eating habits of some 1,300 Michigan sixth-graders over a three-year period, found that children who get their food at school eat more fat, drink more sugary sodas, and consume far fewer fruits and vegetables. The findings, presented last week at the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session, are said to be the first …

Carb your enthusiasm

Obama’s cholesterol beef isn’t with the burgers, but the buns

(Photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell,  Creative Commons)It must have surprised many that a president as young and vigorous as Barack Obama could be experiencing rising cholesterol, as reported last week. But even more surprising is the misinformation being doled out by the people around him about the likely causes. “Too many burgers,” came the ready explanation. More likely, Mr. Obama’s beef isn’t with the meat he eats or even the fat in it, but with the cushy bun surrounding his burger and his apparent weakness for White House pies. In his most recent physical exam, Obama’s cholesterol had spiked. His total cholesterol was up to …

Cafeteria Confidential

Can Michelle Obama make the math work for better school food?

Launching her anti-obesity campaign — “Let’s Move” — last week, First Lady Michelle Obama vowed to add 1 million kids to the 31 million already being served daily by federal reimbursable meal programs while cutting back on the foods kids like most — refined grains, potatoes, sugar, salt — and adding things kids like least — vegetables and whole grains. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama offered to split $1 billion per year over the next 10 years between schools and other meal programs, an amount school food advocates say isn’t enough to add even an apple to kids’ cafeteria trays. Sound like a winning strategy? Impressively, …

Cafeteria Confidential

What’s for breakfast at school today? 13 teaspoons of sugar

Yesterday I stopped by the cafeteria at my daughter’s school here in the District of Columbia — H.D. Cooke Elementary — and this is what many of the kids were having for breakfast: A package of sugar-glazed cookies called Kellogg’s Crunchmania Cinnamon buns; chocolate- or strawberry-flavored milk; grape juice. A 1.76-ounce packet of Crunchmania contains 13 grams of sugar, or 3 teaspoons. Chocolate milk packs 26 grams of sugar, somewhat more than 6 teaspoons. And the grape juice delivers 18 grams of sugar in a little four-ounce container, another four-plus teaspoons. Altogether, that’s more than 13 teaspoons of nutritionally worthless sugar …

Cafeteria Confidential

Echoing Michelle Obama, a D.C. pol pushes ‘healthy schools’

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) has introduced landmark “Healthy Schools” legislation that integrates nutrition standards, locally produced foods, school gardening, broader access to subsidized meals and increased physical exercise to address obesity and other children’s health issues in the nation’s capitol. I recently submitted questions to Cheh about her bill, resulting in this interview by e-mail. The questions were submitted before I reported a six-part account of the food being served in D.C. schools.  Q. What prompted you to write the “Healthy Schools” legislation now pending in the D.C. Council?  A. There is a lot going on right now to reform the District of …

Cafeteria Confidential

Washington Times puts screws to city’s food provider, Chartwells

By some sort of crazy coincidence, a reporter for the Washington Times was investigating Chartwells, the contracted food provider for D.C. Public Schools, at the same time that I was spending a week in a school kitchen discovering just how bad our school food is. Times reporter Jeffrey Anderson, meanwhile, reveals in a report today that Chartwells in the past has continued to use the same foods that have been linked to disease outbreaks in different cities where they hold school contracts. The Times questions whether the food Chartwells is serving in D.C. actually complies with federal standards. It also rakes the food …

Cafeteria Confidential

Tales from a D.C. school kitchen: Better school food — can we get there from here?

Ed Bruske recently spent a week in the kitchen at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in the District of Columbia observing how food is prepared. This is the last of a six-part series of posts about what he saw. Read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. When I asked to spend time observing the kitchen operation at my daughter’s elementary school, I thought I was going to see people cook. The food service provider for D.C. Public Schools, Chartwell-Thompson, had recently ditched the old method of …

Cafeteria Confidential

Tales from a D.C. school kitchen: How food service turns a green school into an enviro hog

Ed Bruske recently spent a week in the kitchen at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in the District of Columbia observing how food is prepared. This is the fifth of a six-part series of posts about what he saw. Read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Photo: Flickr via bookgrlOne unfortunate aspect of the sewer system design here in the District of Columbia is that in large swaths of the city it connects with the same pipes that carry storm runoff. Thus, when we get a heavy …

Cafeteria Confidential

Tales from a D.C. school kitchen: Hold the fat and please pass the sugar

Ed Bruske recently spent a week in the kitchen at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in the District of Columbia observing how food is prepared. This is the second of a six-part series of posts about what he saw. Read parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. At 7:30 a.m., the first glimmer of daybreak tints a wall of windows in the big, new dining area at H.D. Cooke Elementary School. Three children sit with food they’ve brought from home; their eyes are glued to a wall-mounted television monitor tuned to …