11 November 2008

Future Eaters

I have other things to do, but I just can't seem to get away from the New York Times and their relentless coverage of issues that interest me. Yesterday's paper featured an article about the victimization of school bake sales in California. I wanted to write about this yesterday, but a bout of something won't allow me to stay awake long enough to actually sit down and write about it. After sleeping 9 hours the last two nights and taking a 2 hour nap this afternoon, I feel I have enough energy to quickly jot down a reaction while my maple-cinnamon-apple rice pudding happily simmers on the stove top.
So, I'll keep this short. Certain friends of mine could attest to my current irritability (sorry!), and I don't care to rant in blog form. I merely want to outline the point of this article (it's short -- feel free to read it yourself), and to explain why California has surprisingly disappointed me. Of course, I mean surprisingly in regards to food; California already disappointed me when they voted yes on 8.
Long heralded as a mecca of eating fresh, local, organic cuisine and to being at the cutting-edge of whole foods and ecovore delights, California skipped a beat when focusing solely on numbers and percentages:
"The old-fashioned school bake sale, once as American as apple pie, is fast becoming obsolete in California, a result of strict new state nutrition standards for public schools that regulate the types of food that can be sold to students. The guidelines were passed by lawmakers in 2005 and took effect in July 2007. They require that snacks sold during the school day contain no more than 35 percent sugar by weight and derive no more than 35 percent of their calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat."
Nutrition is, of course, very important. Raising children to be aware of what they eat leads to healthy eating habits and respect towards ingredients and food origin. But I fear that obsessing over calories and percentage of sugar and fat will lead to yet another generation of yo-yo dieting, calorie-crazed fanatics whose medical issues will put yet more strain on the health system.
I would have had no qualms with this article had it told me that California had passed a law that regulated ingredients of bake-sale items: Bake-sale goods must be a) home made and b) be made of real ingredients (unprocessed flour, free-range eggs, organic milk, unrefined cane sugar, preferably everything organic, even more preferably local). Now others might balk at such a "wacky" idea. Yet isn't it better to involve children in the creation of food and draw their attention to the quality of ingredients than to teach them to freak out about calories? Perhaps a limit should be enforced on the quantity of baked goods bought per individual. Fine. Moderation is a great lesson.
Now the article wasn't all bad:
"In California, bake sales are waning because ingredients cannot be regulated. Sales are banned during school hours but may be held a half-hour before or after school.
The ban on bake sales has not been met with universal enthusiasm. The Piedmont Highlander, the school newspaper, editorialized about “birthday cakes turned into contraband” and homemade goodies snatched from students “by the long arm and hungry mouth of the law.”
Even some nutritionists question whether banishing bake sales is the best approach. “It concerns me we’re not teaching moderation,” said Stephanie Bruce, the president of the California School Nutrition Association, who works in the Ontario-Montclair School District in Ontario, Calif."
Exactly. Regulation of ingredients and teaching moderation. This is good. Praising children to eat anything as long as it has low calories and a low percentage of sugar and fat, regardless as to whether the consumed item is actually food or just some potion of low-cal chemicals, is bad.

Now, speaking of wholesome treats, I mentioned rice pudding. I love rice pudding. It is something I often eat in Germany, and wish I ate more of in the US. Admittedly, I have never made rice pudding. Until this evening, that is. In my under-the-weather, seeking-comfort state, I decided that exactly what I needed for dinner is some of that cozy and soul-soothing pudding. I tweaked the recipe as I went along as I wasn't really satisfied with the initial results, but in the end I think it came out decent, and if made under different milk situations (see below) it could be delicious.

Maple-Cinnamon-Apple Rice Pudding

Combine in a heavy small pot 1/4 cup Arborio rice, 2 cups whole milk (I used my sour raw milk, which might have been fine, but I think at this point it is more whey than anything else, and it might not be ideal for pudding), 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1 cinnamon stick. Heat over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Give it a nice stir. Add 1 diced apple, peeled and cored. Let simmer (bubbling but not boiling) for approximately 30-40 minutes (until thick and at your preferred rice pudding consistency), stirring occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom. You might want to turn heat down as it begins to thicken. Towards end add ca. 1tsp ground cinnamon (to taste) and the zest of half a lemon.
Serve immediately. Garnish with cinnamon. Serves one person in need of much comfort or two more reasonable and moderate eaters (I'm attempting to put away the second serving for a later date!)

No comments:

Post a Comment