Schools in California’s Sausalito Marin City District are the first in the nation to serve their students 100 percent organic meals, sustainably sourced and free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Turning Green founder Judi Shils commented that students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins. She emphasized that this program far exceeds USDA nutritional standards and acknowledges the connection between the health of the children and the health of the planet.
The 100 percent organic meals are accompanied by nutrition and gardening education. The Conscious Kitchen first tested the program in 2013 and found that in-school disciplinary cases decreased and attendance increased, attributing these positive changes to the change in the quality of the food served in the school.
According to Eco Watch, this program addresses the controversial issue of GMOs in school food. It is the first program to take a stand against GMOs and the growing body of evidence that links GMOs to a great number of health risks as well as environmental damage. 80 percent of the items on most supermarket shelves now contain GMOs.
Nutritional experts have verified that food and beverages in schools have long-term effects on children’s health and well-being. In 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act required schools in the Unites States to update their meal provisions to meet new USDA nutritional standards and offer more whole grain products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins to children who receive subsidized school lunches.
Organizers also emphasized that schools capable of incorporating an integrated approach to edible education (i.e., combining local, seasonal food procurement strategies with hands-on lessons taught in the classroom, kitchen and garden) are more likely to sustain healthy school meal initiatives.
Simi Summer, Ph.D. is an organic advocate, independent researcher, educator, and freelance writer. She is a strong proponent of organic consumer education and informed consumer choices.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 2/2/2016