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Meatless Mondays

by Amanda M. Fairbanks

February 25, 2010
In honor of our school lunch contest (a friendly reminder: you have until Sunday to submit your offering), we have food on the brain.

And so, apparently, does the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. He proposes that we outlaw bacon strips and hamburger patties in school lunches, at least insofar as Mondays are concerned.

The proposal is part of "Food NYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System" (full .pdf here), where he suggests that as part of "educating children to become a new generation of healthy and environmentally aware eaters," New York City public school cafeterias shall institute "Meatless Mondays." This, in addition to requiring not only a food curriculum but also exposing city kids to local gardens and farms.

Stringer told The New York Times that while the goal is not to promote vegetarianism or ban meat eating altogether, it is a way to encourage kids to eat less meat and more vegetables.

The proposal follows in the wake of Baltimore public schools, which imposed a similar version of meat-free Mondays earlier this year. The Times reports that the black bean nachos and eggplant parmesan have already gained a cult following and "cost 20 cents less than lunches with meat, leaving more to spend on better local and fresh ingredients the rest of the week."

But the proposal didn't sit well with the American Meat Institute, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, or the Missouri Beef Council, not to mention the editors of Pork Magazine. A common complaint was that kids were being deprived of a key nutrient-protein.

Should New York City's Department of Education implement Meatless Mondays? And should this be part of Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign, to ensure that kids eat healthier food? Or might further top-down initiatives inspire an all out revolt?

Photo (cc) via Flickr user greeen sheeep.

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Meatless Mondays