Lunch in B.C. Public Schools

Frankenstein’s Food Masquerades as a Healthy Alternative

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How healthy is your child’s cafeteria food?

According to the B.C. Ministry of Education, very healthy. Boasting strict guidelines on their website, the ministry states that its school lunch program is “designed to maximize students’ access to healthier options and fully eliminate the sale of unhealthy foods and beverages in BC schools.”

Actions, however, speak louder than words, so I decided to investigate the adherence of the guidelines by visiting various public school food vendor websites. Vendors Products of Canada stood out amongst its competitors because it featured a special line of “healthy” foods, called Healthy Alternatives. Perusing their list of available foods, I randomly selected an item to research – a Nutribar Chocolate Brownie snack. Its nutrient profile: Only 100 calories, nine vitamins and minerals, and two grams of fiber. Moreover, it claims that indulging in this snack is “part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Falling under the unique category of healthy alternatives, it’s no surprise this treat appears to meet the Ministry of Educations healthy mandate. That is, until you turn the package over, and take a closer look at the ingredient list, which included components such as:

Ingredient ListSoybean oil: Unless organic, you can bet the bank it’s from genetically modified (GMO) soy; meaning it’s loaded with pesticides, multiple antibiotic resistant strains, and additional pernicious aggregates. Digest enough of this ingredient and you may see liver damage.

Soy protein isolate: Originating from GMO plants, this has been identified to be a hormone disruptor in humans and animals (cancer causing).

Chocolate coating sub-ingredients (see label to left): GMO hydrogenated oils can clog arteries and have been identified as a main source of cardiovascular problems and high cholesterol cases.

Synthetic vitamins and inorganic iron: Because the body is unable to recognize synthetic compounds, these man-made nutrients can cause cell toxicity, which may lead to a deterioration of the immune system. Other synthetic supplemental nutrients in the school lunch item are: niacinamide, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, thiamin mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, ferric orthophosphate, folic acid.

Glucose-fructose: Increased awareness over the dangers of high fructose corn syrup has permeated the public over past few years, so companies are adapting. Glucose-fructose is another way of saying high fructose corn syrup. This should be avoided. It is artificially made and will metabolize into fat, damaging the liver and cause obesity.

The list of harmful ingredients just continues, and this is from the ostensibly healthy alternatives category. This begs a critical question: why aren’t healthy foods not the standard and the more deleterious snacks considered the alternative?

And how do we reconcile statements from the Ministry like, “Since the introduction of the Guidelines in 2005, the sale of junk-food has been replaced with healthy food…?”

How can companies like this one justify this product as healthy, with all of the harmful ingredients in it? It’s simple – just change the standard. Here’s an example of how this was done in the past to ascertain what was considered to be safe levels of radiation. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the New York Times reported, “the government raised the legal exposure limit to radiation from one to 20 millisieverts a year for people, including children — effectively allowing them to continue living in communities from which they would have been barred under the old standard.” These deemed safe exposure levels are being raised our governing bodies globally.

In the same way, by changing the standard of what’s healthy, foods that were previously deemed unhealthy can now fall into the “healthy” camp, even though the nature of the food itself hasn’t changed. This is why you’ll find them defending the sale of potato chips, hot dogs, sugar laced soda drinks and so fourth.

In our post enlightenment era, where truth is subjective and based on interpretation, the objective, undeniable fact, is that chronic disease is killing people, and our diets are the single greatest contributing factor.

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B.C. schools food guidelines: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/health/2010_food_guidelines.pdf
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