Coming soon to a lunchbox near you?

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A mother in the Canadian Province of Manitoba was fined ten dollars for packing her child a lunch that was missing a grain. The packed lunch consisted of roast beef, potatoes, milk, carrots and an orange. Sounds completely unhealthy right? Well, to make up for that missing grain, the school officials supplemented the lunch with none other than Ritz crackers the epitome of health.

According to legislation addressing nutritional requirements for Canadian schoolchildren, if a child brings a packed lunch, it must contain certain food groups fruits and vegetables, grains, milk or alternatives such as soy based products, and meat or protein-containing alternatives such as beans or lentils. As long as the lunch contains those food groups no matter what foods are used to meet the standards (ie Kraft macaroni and cheese is considered a grain) the lunch will pass muster with the Canadian food monitors also known as teachers.

The mother, Kristen Bartkiw, understands that the purpose of the policy is to encourage parents to pack whole meals for their children, but she adds this caveat. I would encourage parents to not just blindly follow the Canada Food Guide, but really think about eating more real food and not packaged food.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky had this to say. It s important to make sure that children are consuming foods from different food groups and getting adequate nutrition. However, the guidelines are being used too rigidly. If a lunch consisting of roast beef, potatoes, milk, carrots and an orange is not considered up-to-standards, yet a lunch containing processed macaroni and cheese as the grain is considered totally fine, I m a little worried about what other interpretations could be made from these guidelines. This reminds me of the time some years ago when our country was debating whether tomato sauce qualified pizza to be a vegetable for school lunch programs.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom was a bit more brusque: This would be funny if it weren t so pathetic and dangerous. The food fascists in Canada have decided that they are best equipped to determine what your kid has for lunch. This leaves egg on their faces, which will go nicely with their scrambled brains. He continues, What s next on their mandatory menus? Pol Pot Roast? Sandwiches that must hold the Mao? Mussolini Alfredo?Just when I think nothing surprises me anymore ¦.