food

Encounter with an American school lunch

56 Comments
By Michelle

Many people in Japan think that American school lunches are unhealthy. For the most part, they are right. When photos of the greasy fried foods and brown piles of slop that are served to students in the U.S. surfaced on the Internet, Japanese netizens were shocked.

With all the talk of Americans being overweight and school lunches being fat-laden and unhealthy, our own Japanese reporter wondered, “Is it really as bad as it seems?” During his recent trip to the U.S., our reporter was allowed to try the lunch served at a school in the United States. The following is a translation of his encounter with American school lunch.

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When you think of school lunch in the United States, you probably imagine hamburgers, French fries, potato chips; anything with a lot of fat and a lot of calories. But what is it really like? I was recently given the opportunity to visit an elementary school in California where they served me school lunch.

First choose your main dish

You first go to the front counter of the cafeteria and pick up a plastic tray. In Japan, it’s common for schools to decide the lunch menu and to not give the students an opportunity to choose their food. However, on the day I visited this school in California, students were able to choose between chicken burgers or tacos. They could also choose their drink: milk or chocolate milk. Once you receive your main dish from the cafeteria workers, you can go to the salad bar and get vegetables and fruit.

There are rules at the salad bar

However, the salad bar has a few rules. First, you must take at least one main fruit or vegetable dish from the “fruit and vegetable corner” of the salad bar. Second, you must take at least three different kinds of vegetables from the salad bar, but you can’t take more than four. Although there were a few rules, there was no restriction on the amount of vegetables that could be taken.

Pay for lunch at the register

Once you have taken vegetables from the salad bar, you can go and pay for your food at the cash register. The price is $4 for adults and $2 for children. Students can just show their student ID and their parents will be billed later.

But how did it taste?

I quickly tried both the chicken burger and taco, but I was surprised to find that they both had no flavor. Also, the chocolate milk wasn’t so sweet. As I sat there wondering if these American children were satisfied with the meal, I realized that all of the children were putting ketchup on their burgers…in large quantities I might add. Maybe this is why many American children gain weight.

Problems with this school’s lunch

After eating school lunch, I talked with a few Japanese parents. Many of them said something like this: “There are lots of fruits and vegetables in the salad bar, but the kids only choose the foods they like to eat. Most of the kids aren’t eating many vegetables which is a problem.”

I saw that the milk each student receives is in a plastic bag and students pierce the bag with a straw to drink, but I noticed that a lot of the kids were sloppily slurping up their milk.

To those familiar with American school lunches, do you think this was an accurate depiction of a typical meal served at schools in the U.S.?

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- School Lunch in Japan -- Hungry? Fill yourself up with this bento lunch that weighs in at a hefty 1kg -- 24% of Workers in Japan Have Less Than $2.84 to Spend on Lunch

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56 Comments
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I thought school lunches were horrible growing up in the '50-'60's and it seems they still are. The programs are run by a bunch of idiot dietitians out of touch with reality.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

That looks absolutely disgusting.

Personally I don't know why the kids are given a "choice" - If they are elementary school, they should eat what is the menu (which will have been decided by a nutritionist in advance) unless they have some kind of allergy, in which case they can get a slightly altered version of the school lunch.

None of this "Ill take the vegetables I like" nonsense. Eat what your given.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

At least there's no refined, polished, devoid-of-nutrition white rice!

-6 ( +17 / -23 )

This is one school out of how many 10's of thousands in the US and while a tad better, which is NOT saying much of anything really, on the whole US school lunches suck big time!

Gotta admit Japanese kyu (sometimes spew) shoku, has US school lunches beaten hands down for nutrition, taste, and value.

One would think that after all these years the US could do a better job of feeding it's school children. Somethings never change.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The school lunches I had as a kid in England were great. Simple, but a lot of variety and now that I look back - well balanced and very nutritious.

The state of school lunches has been dealt with in several documentaries by British chef Jamie Oliver. I was shocked to see what kids in North Carolina were given to eat.

JAMIE "They need more vegetables."

DINNER LADY "OK. We'll give them more French Fries."

4 ( +9 / -5 )

I realized that all of the children were putting ketchup on their burgers…in large quantities I might add. Maybe this is why many American children gain weight.

Soft drinks and large portions. That's why American children gain weight.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"...but I noticed that a lot of the kids were sloppily slurping up their milk."

How is that a but statement? I see teachers and salary men sloppily slurping EVERYTHING. >:)

10 ( +15 / -5 )

I don't know about school lunches in the US, but one of the things I like about the food served in the country is the variety. You want to eat junk food or comfort food or food from any particular region of the world, you can get it. You want meat, you can get it. You want vegetarian, you can get it. In other words, you have the choice, and it's up to the individual to make the right choices.

I remember going on business to the US and having lunch at the cafeteria of the meeting place (which was a governmental building - that may explain a few things). You could get everything. As a vegetarian, I found I was in heaven. The salad bar was exactly that. Even the restaurants I've been to in California and NYC were really good for people of all tastes. Back to Japan, the so-called salad bars at my workplace and at the universities and other workplaces I've been too are terrible. No imagination, and most with meat or fish.

I saw that the milk each student receives is in a plastic bag and students pierce the bag with a straw to drink, but I noticed that a lot of the kids were sloppily slurping up their milk.

Oh for god's sake, they're drinking it, aren't they?

6 ( +13 / -7 )

I'm from the UK, but have homestayed in a Baltimore suburb a few times, and the school lunches were well thought out and healthy. But that was only one school, very much like the Japanese journalist in this article, whose research can hardly be described as exhaustive. I can almost hear muttered 'やっぱり' and 'さすが' from the people who lap up all this stereotype-reinforcing bollocks.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

The chicken burger and taco had "no flavor," probably due to a lack of salt (and why the students add ketchup). The US calls for 2.3 grams of salt per day, and the school lunch is probably adjusted accordingly. Meanwhile, Japan allows for 10 grams per day, and the typical kyushoku has 3 grams. http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/sports/syokuiku/08110511/001.htm

Overall I think school lunches in Japan are great nutritionally, as is the traditional Japanese diet, but salt content is a glaring weakness.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

In a country where pickle relish and ketchup are considered "vegetables" I think the reported did not eat a representative school lunch.

The U.S.'s problem goes deeper though, and is typified by this attitude:

you have the choice, and it's up to the individual to make the right choices.

Kids are not old enough to make sensible choices about an issue as complex as diet. Hell, most ADULTS don't know enough to make sensible choices about diet.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Always had to make a lunch and bring it to school back home. Kyushoku is crap. They like to use the cheapest foods available and then coat them with sauces. Japanese people love their sauces. Everyone in Japan thinks that healthy equals no calories Why?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Honestly,

I can certainly agree that this is quite what it looks like in "School Lunches" in America. You may have a choice but alot of people deny the "Good Stuff" that is healthy for you and only eat what is well make you gain weight and stuff.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The school lunch pictured in this article actually looks much more healthy (and edible) than the elementary school lunches that I saw on a recent trip to the US. My children spent time at the school and were appalled (but still enjoyed the cultural 'experience') -- especially given that they have grown up eating school lunches in Japan.

Japan has the US beat hands down in this area. The schools not only teach children about responsible eating and nutrition, but put it into practice. It is considered a key part of the day care and elementary school curriculum, referred to as shoku-iku (food education).

In my children's government-subsidized day care in Japan, there was a full-time nutritionist on staff. The children even grew vegetables in the facility's garden, which were harvested and served at certain times. Elementary school was quite similar, with the student body actively involved in food preparation.

My only complaint about the Japanese food education appraoch is how shoku-iku is used to push a nationalistic agenda and that of Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA). My kids were served whale at least once a year to 'teach' the students about the importance of whale meat in Japanese culture -- with no debate or discussion about the global controversy surrounding whale consumption.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Airion, righ on the salt. Japanese lunches might be healthier from the nutritional point of view, but the amount of salt generally found in Japanese food would reduce to tears any Western nutritionist. I'm sure this is one of the reasons for the high stomach cancer rates in Japan.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

First, you must take at least one main fruit or vegetable dish from the “fruit and vegetable corner” of the salad bar.

LOL. When Reagan was president, tomato sauce on pizza was designated as a vegetable.

I also remember crap food from American school lunches. Hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Mashed potatoes, Turkey Gravy with little bits of turkey in it, cheese sticks, corn, roll and milk. all for 50cents.My favorite school lunch every other week. I would use my cheese sticks as a fork to dig into my mashed potatoes. Wish I could eat like that for 50 cents a day today. I turned out alright. 42 and healthy as a horse.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Airion

The chicken burger and taco had "no flavor," probably due to a lack of salt (and why the students add ketchup). The US calls for 2.3 grams of salt per day, and the school lunch is probably adjusted accordingly. Meanwhile, Japan allows for 10 grams per day, and the typical kyushoku has 3 grams.

I think ketchup contains well enough salt for eaters to feel that the food with ketchup tastes good. Moreover, is the diet recommendation with such small amount of salt widely accepted and actually followed by Americans?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

kyu (sometimes spew) shoku

Ha,ha! Brilliant! I am reminded of the term a foreign woman that I know online uses for traditional New Year's food- 'O-retchi'.

My school lunches in the 60s were awful. I remember with horror the canned yellow beans (what are they called anyway?), endless mashed potatoes (they didn't give us fries back then), 'Salisbury steak' or a square of meatloaf with a puddle of watery juice around it. Fish sticks every Friday as it was a Catholic community then. When I hit high school the pizza tasted like gourmet fare in comparison.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some thoughts:

1) The school system in the US isn't standardized, so visiting a single school is not really going to give you much insight into what "American school lunches" are like.

2) That said, most of the school lunches I got over the years at various institution were mediocre to poor. There were occasional bright spots (Friday is pizza day!). I'm not sure any of it was particularly healthy. I'm reminded of the story of a kid who got scurvy despite drinking school orange juice for breakfast everyday. The punchline was something about them melting the frozen orange juice concentrate in the dishwasher to save time or some such - the extreme heat destroyed the nutritional content of the OJ, apparently.

3) What it ultimately comes down to is money. You want better food? You want healthier food that is edible? You have to pay for that food and for competent people to prepare it. A tall order when your school system is strapped for cash and desperately needs new text books.

4) Brown bag it. Seriously, that's what most kids did anyway. And we didn't have fancy bento boxes, either.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My vegetarian friends are in heaven when they go to the United States. In Japan, they're highly frustrated, if not miserable.

This whole argument about healthy eating in Japan versus the US is based on a flawed premise. In the US, diet is a matter of choice. In Japan, it's about conformity, even nationalism. In America, you can have the healthiest diet on the planet, thanks to the availability of such things as salads bars and lean or skinless cuts of meat. In Japan, it's much harder to do that.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"To those familiar with American school lunches, do you think this was an accurate depiction of a typical meal served at schools in the U.S.?"

No.

1) School lunches in Japan, although they may differ from school lunch company to school lunch company, are decided beforehand (I mean, months beforehand), carefully planned out based on balance and overall Calorie-count, and are relatively standard (not saying they're great, and they CERTAINLY don't compensate for kids with allergies, for example, but still). Schools in North America differ vastly in terms of what's offered.

2) Most schools I know of don't even have a school lunch. They have cafeterias or kiosks, and occasionally pizza days or something like that, but in any case it's usually a pay cafeteria where you can buy what you want, or you otherwise bring your lunch with you.

3) As stated at the end of #1, you really can't compare one school's lunch with others. Some, although I'd say very few, offer only relatively healthy products, whereas others use simply reprocessed foods to save money. Simply visiting ONE school for lunch isn't going to tell you anything about the system in general, let alone that school (next day it will of course be something else).

I was a little surprised to see the comment about 'almost no flavour', as it suggests the author likes more flavour, which means more additives (in the case of a meal like school lunch) and less healthy.

Ultimately, the only thing that means anything about this article is towards the end, where when interviewing Japanese mothers Michelle points out that it's ultimately about choice, and THAT is where you can say there's a difference; you can't choose in Japan, but kids in the US are going to eat what they want based on the options. Schools SHOULD give you better options, but that won't ensure the kids choose more wisely.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

ymkmym

I think ketchup contains well enough salt for eaters to feel that the food with ketchup tastes good. Moreover, is the diet recommendation with such small amount of salt widely accepted and actually followed by Americans?

That was my point about the ketchup. Without ketchup the food is low in salt, and therefore healthy but bland. Add ketchup and it's now higher in salt (and added sugar), and therefore less healthy and more tasty.

No, the salt recommendations are not widely followed by Americans. There's no doubt that everyone would be healthier with only 2.3 grams of salt per day, but even in an otherwise healthy diet that's hard to achieve. Nonetheless school lunches in the US have recently been required to cut back on the salt and probably contain much less that the typical Japanese school lunch. Unless the kids add ketchup.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The state of school lunches has been dealt with in several documentaries by British chef Jamie Oliver. I was shocked to see what kids in North Carolina were given to eat.

Bertie, I remember that documentary - the school bosses eventually banned Jamie from the school as they thought his suggestions for healthy food were too extreme and he was opposed to them serving those 'pink slime' things - looked like the Minced Morsels I used to give my dog.

Jamie DID manage to change the school dinners in the UK though... less chips and more veg and fruit.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well, I'm betting California school lunches are among the healthiest, and that Sloppy Joes (unidentifiable saucy ground meat on a bun - also sometime found on spaghetti) or fish sticks (deep fried rectangles of fishy something) served with potato chips (your vegetable) are still menu items somewhere. OH, and surely we can find overcooked brussel sprouts or overcooked lima beans?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

fast food is so cheap in the US and for one cheap price you can drink as much softdrink as you like, crazy thing is large bottles of softdrink are cheaper than similar sized bottles of water!?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ebisenJun. 07, 2013 - 09:47AM JST

Airion, righ on the salt. Japanese lunches might be healthier from the nutritional point of view, but the amount of salt generally found in Japanese food would reduce to tears any Western nutritionist. I'm sure this is one of the reasons for the high stomach cancer rates in Japan.

A brain surgeon in my first Eikaiwa school many years ago (seriously), also told me a lot of his business came from aneurysms, largely caused by excessive salt in the diet of his patients. Sodium content varies, but a single bowl of miso soup will generally give you more than your RDA in the US. Your general lifestyle/fitness can affect how much sodium you can eat safely, but it's worth keeping an eye on how much 'healthy' Japanese food you put away.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Generally, American school lunches are crap. Some small school districts in more affluent areas have avoided this, but for the general populace it's better to pack your kids lunch.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Healthy school dinners. Something I protested about as a student when they were introducing it, but now something I approve of as a parent. How times change.

It all comes down to choice. You can either choose what you eat in the school or you can choose not to eat those options and instead have a packed lunch from home. As a parent if you're worried about whether your child is eating healthily at school take a few moments in the evening or wake up just that bit earlier in the morning to make them a lunch full of healthy and nutritional food.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To those familiar with American school lunches, do you think this was an accurate depiction of a typical meal served at schools in the U.S.?

I think this is a pretty accurate depiction of a typical Japanese authored article employing overly broad stereotypical generalizations of foreigners while tacitly trying to acknowledge Japan's unique cultural superiority.......

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Well, it would be very simple if only eating habits were responsible for being overweight. There are genetic factors, that's one thing. But second thing is the passive culture, where kids sit during classes, sit in a car or a bus, sit in front of the TV, computer, console, sit on the toilet. Always sitting, never doing anything else. But it's not just physical activity, brain activity also burns calories (the brain itself consumes presumably 20 watts of energy, while the whole organism needs 100 watts). Since I'm a neurotic person myself my brain is quite active all the time, and I never had problem with weight. Also, I walk a lot, and it makes me a bit healthier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

putting large amounts of ketchup on anything isn't the cause for weight gain in American children...a table spoon of ketchup there are roughly 19 calories in a table spoon of ketchup while Japanese put large amounts of Mayo on many of their dishes..a tablespoon of mayo is almost 100 calories! The condiment doesn't make the child overweight it is the amount of oil used in food and the serving sizes of the foods they receive. The food choices he saw? that is amazing compared to the choices I had as a kid. When I was a kid my choices were hamburger or chicken sandwich floating on grease before put onto the bun with nothing on it with french fries and a fruit cup or pizza with french fries and a fruit cup. They did have premade salads but after finding hair in the first salad I ate at school I never ate it again.

Kids school lunches are getting more healthier all the time. They need to fix portions though and taste but it is better than what my friends daughter goes through at a japanese school. She is punished and yelled at if she doesn't eat all of her food..she doesn't like potatoes or beans and they don't give her the choice to avoid those..so what happens? she comes home with food in her pockets because she hides it from the teachers who lurk behind their backs as they eat. Can't say this is the same for every school though.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

To those familiar with American school lunches, do you think this was an accurate depiction of a typical meal served at schools in the U.S.?

Not at all. I grew up in a relatively small district in an average income area. Our lunches included the following choices: Pizza slice (usually three varieties, and cooked fresh, they were pretty good), Sub Sandwich (6 incg, choice of basically every typical sub meat and veggies), a few grilled options like Hamburger, Chicken patty, Cheeseburger, a special item for the day, and an unlimited salad bar. We have the choice to eat poorly or well.

I do, however, think the schools (AND PARENTS) can do a better job of teaching their child good eating habits.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An important note - kids have the CHOICE to bring packed lunches - I did for years. Also, giving students choices at an early age is so important - it enables them to make decisions later in life - something sorely lacking in this society, where They take what ever is shoved at them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It should be noted that not all children buy lunch at school. There is a great many who bring a bag lunch, which is packed by mom, which is a very healthy lunch.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In my country we have to bring our own food, back when I was kid, all lunches were allowed. Now though, lunches have to have a salad, no chocolate allowed, no sweets allowed...and lunches are checked too. And I think that is VERY bad, because they never explain WHY they're not allowed..and when kids grow up and start junior high, they're met with all this lovely tasting fast food!! High school is even worse, there are some 15food shops or more around 1 school..a donuts shop just in front. I know what I'm saying, when I started high school I thought I was in heaven! I cannot comment on school food, what I can comment on are canteens; unless the healthy food become reasonably priced, sorry but fast food will be the option to choose. Why do I have to pay around EUR3.50 for a supposedly 300g of pasta, when I can buy a meat pie 2x as big with EUR1.50? Now I would probably not eat anything and go home and make my food, but if you are dying with hunger and a student without money, guess what you'd choose?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Usually you have the burger choice (chicken here) and the mash potatoes or fries. Milk is generally in a carton (paper). The salad bar is sort of rare (I'm sure the parents fought for this) and that salad looks very good. Those straw-berries look almost like the real thing and not the jumbo tasteless franken-berries you find at most grocery stores. I would say this lunch is generally much better than the average American school lunch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8CF15HJJ-0

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anf btw, I would much rather "encounter" the worst American school lunch, than "encounter" any cetacean meat in my school lunch. just sayin...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

He may be right. Sort of. But......

It just really irritates me, this constant obsession Japan has with comparing itself to other countries and coming up with all the crappy bits which is obviously designed to make them all feel better aboute themselves, be it American food, British weather, Australian style (they think Aussies only wear cut offs and flip flops) or whatever. You have to be really incsecure about yourselves in the first place to run around acting like this.

On the specific topic in question:

1) Yes chocolate milk is sweet. So have normal milk instead - almost certainly a low fat variety, as opposed to the full fat one they serve in J schools. 2) What was on the menu the other 4 days of the week? 3) A salad and vegetable bar where you can take as much as you want? Surely better than the shred of lettuce, slice of cucumber and solitary cherry tomato that constitutes "salad" in Japan? 4) How much fibre in that Taco compared to Japanese white rice?

Personally, as a parent I think Japanese kyushoku is fantastic. But I really dislike this aspect of J culture where they just ridicule or criticize anything outside Japan just to tell themselves how wonderful they are in comparison.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

@chibachick - it gives them a purpose...

Perhaps someone can explain to me the purpose of the chirimenjako (aka the tiny tiny fish that they throw sometimes on rice or in a salad) that sometimes appear in the kyushoku? When I taught in schools, most of the lunches were pretty good but I dreaded the days when the chirimen appeared. I usually brought some snacks from home to eat in the teachers room later on those days...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The beverage industry agreed - after Congress started making noises about passing laws on the subject - to voluntarily remove sugared drinks from their public school vending machines that kids have access to. So now you'll only find sugared sodas in the faculty vending machines, but even then over half of the selections are water, tea, or diet sodas.

On a whim after reading this article I went down to the cafeteria (in an elementary school in Northern Virginia) to see what the ladies were getting ready to serve the kids for lunch. The following Dropbox links to photos show some of the items on the menu. Kids have three choices from the cafeteria kitchen today: Chicken Barbeque Sandwiches, Fish "Sliders", or Garden Salad. The fourth option is "Bring your own from home". I talked with the cafeteria manager and she said that frankly it was better when there was only one offering served. She believes a lot more food is wasted by offering these choices than would be if there was only one lunch set offered.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105343.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105327.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105306.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105235.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105158.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105135.jpg https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59191044/20130607_105106.jpg
0 ( +0 / -0 )

My vegetarian friends are in heaven when they go to the United States. In Japan, they're highly frustrated, if not miserable.

This whole argument about healthy eating in Japan versus the US is based on a flawed premise. In the US, diet is a matter of choice. In Japan, it's about conformity, even nationalism. In America, you can have the healthiest diet on the planet, thanks to the availability of such things as salads bars and lean or skinless cuts of meat. In Japan, it's much harder to do that.

You nailed it. In the UK and US we have a lot of bad choices. We also have a lot of healthy choices. Theres the key word - choice. Western food is not bad, it is the choices people make that make it bad. And given that Japan has some of the highest rates of GI and stomach cancer in the world, they are certainly not perfect by any stretch.

I get a bit sensitive about this topic. Maybe youve noticed! I have just had 11 years of my J mother in law trashing my countrys food and telling me how lucky I am to be in Japan where I can eat good healthy food, and, quite frankly, it just pisses me off!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In my elementary school, we had to bring our own lunches. I got to eat a healthy sandwich for all four years before transitioning to junior high where I got introduced to a cafeteria setting. On some days, I would buy the cafeteria food. On some other days, bring my own food from home. Lunch-a-bles was really popular back then so I tried to bring those in as much as I can. Then, high school came and made me hate/loathe sloppy joes. At least, they offered salad, in plastic containers, which make up for the joes. Hence, I still kept trying to bring my own food from home as much as possible. On very few occasions, I would eat only onigiris due to the time. Hah...

Well, I'm sort of glad to see that now, in this day and age, American kids do have more cafeteria choices than before (depending on the state). Of course, kids will be kids when they don't like veggies. So, in that sense, kids will still choose to have a less healthy diet unless the parents encourage them to eat healthier at home. ^_^

The whole veggie thing and Japan reminds me of all my annual trips to Taiwan to see family. I always look forward to coming back to the US to eat veggies, because honestly, the veggie scene in Taiwan is also very very sad. Their veggies are not as good/fresh as the ones in the US. Ironically, I sometimes pick up the Ito En Veggie Shot drink from Mitsuwa because it tastes good. :D

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As someone who went to public school in Alabama in the mid 90s, that looks incredibly friggin' nutritious - at least, compared to the constant "slab of some kind of meat"/pizza and fries/"chicken tetrazini" meals we were served. Baby steps, I guess.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just finished my lunch like I do every day... at McDonalds. Grilled Chicken and Bacon Wrap, Bacon Ranch Salad with grilled chicken and balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead of Ranch, a white milk and a medium diet soda. You'll note there are no fries in that lunch and the only fried food is the bacon in the wrap and the salad. Since the end of February I've lost 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of weight and 4 inches (10.2 cm) off my waist... eating lunch at McDonalds.

WHERE you eat isn't nearly as important as WHAT you eat when you get there. This is true whether you're in a school cafeteria or at a fast food restaurant.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is a stupid article. Judging all American elementary school lunches base on one school in one state is ridiculous. I went to school in the states in CA and NY. Not only were the lunches different, everything was different. I don't remember learning much in Southern Ca since the class was boring and it was going over stuff I already learned. The lunch was served on those "prison" dish trays. I remember bad tacos, was a new experience by compared to real tacos, it was bad. The other thing I remember comparing CA to NY is the recesses. It felt like I spent more time out of the class than in. Southern California weather is great for sleeping even in class. In NY we had trays, real dishes, real forks and knives. I remember that we always had a choice or two. Milk in waxed paper containers and I really didn't think much about the food. In elementary school, I don't remember having access to condoments, maybe salt and pepper. Personally, I don't think elementary school lunches are a problem since no matter how bad they were in nutrition which seem to change over time, the kids ran around and burned any excess off. Today, the kids don't run around as much especially after school. Since the weather isn't as good in NY as CA, they took us bowling after classes, twice a week. I'm with the cuts to education, that gone. If the kids get fat, it is what happens at home more than school.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The majority of US school's lunches are filled with lots of preservatives and chemicals. So an innocent looking hamburger may have 50 plus ingredients in it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I always liked my US school lunch. It wasn't always tasty or what I wanted to eat that day, but bouncing hot dogs and mashed potatoes that turn to paste in an hour made it all worth it. Wonderful stuff, that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

May I know in which kind of schools this food is served? Public or private?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My kids have a choice, but they have only a few options and all of them are approved by a nutritionist ahead of time. Yes,they are allowed to select fruit & veggies, but again they have selections for that day which have already been approved by a nutritionist. My kids are in middle & high school, but the school corporation where we live plans meal options a month in advance. Guess what, they aren't always burgers & fries???? I know you have probably passed out now. I live in a diverse community and our food selection is also diverse, including celebrating international holidays. This doesn't represent every school corporation in the US, but the schools that were serving food that had been exposed to run off water & radiation from Fukushima don't represent all of the schools in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan and the US, nanny states where people expect the government to feed them. Grow up and have parents feed their own kids. Japanese lunches are over salted and kids are forced to eat food they would prefer not to. My kids hate the food as it is nothing close to the yummy stuff they get at home but a bunch of lazy parents force mass crap down their throats.

Parents take some responsibility for your own.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Not realized is that unlike Japan, anyone in school can go outside and get a meal and are not limited to just the cafeteria. When that came up on conversation once I was just as surprised as my Japanese friend about the opposite situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

t just really irritates me, this constant obsession Japan has with comparing itself to other countries and coming up with all the crappy bits which is obviously designed to make them all feel better aboute themselves, be it American food, British weather, Australian style (they think Aussies only wear cut offs and flip flops) or whatever. You have to be really incsecure about yourselves in the first place to run around acting like this.

Thank God JT commenters are above making such juvenile comparisons.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The American school lunch has actually changed more drastically than this author realizes. When I was growing up, lunch looked like garbage and was completely horrible for you. Seniors in high school were allowed to go to McDonalds during lunch period. When I was in high school back not too long ago (graduated in '06), every school in my state revamped the lunch menu. The school line had much healthier choices that actually tasted better, McDonalds was banned, and the vending machines were removed. You were no longer allowed soda, PERIOD. You weren't even allowed to bring even a can to school. This rule hasn't changed at all since I graduated and has gone pretty much national. The biggest problem that is being faced right now isn't what kids are eating, but whether they ARE eating. They're are kids in the US who don't have the ability to eat anything outside of school, and this is why most schools have revamped their program and have begun authorizing trips to farmer markets on a more frequent basis.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am an American and I will say school lunches are so gross. I would take my lunch to school if you decide to move and go to an American school. Schools buy frozen products instead of cooking it themselves. Thankfully I am now going to a school that has the cooking class makes the school lunches from fresh ingredients. It's healthy and taste great! d(0,0)b Two thumbs up****

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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