Monday, September 03, 2007

School Dinners

There was an amusing story on the radio this morning to the effect that, thanks to the government's Jamie Oliver-inspired healthy school meals 'initiative', uptake of meals in secondary schools has fallen by 20 percent - exactly (inversely) matching the government's target figure of a 20 percent increase by 2009. Oddly, I haven't been able to find a link to this story - maybe inept news management by the Lib Dems, who had got hold of the figures - but, as an example of the 1st law of human affairs, the Law of Unintended Consequences, it could hardly be bettered. 'Enlightened' progressive opinion makes the fundamental error of assuming that people want certain self-evidently beneficial goods and that as soon as they have access to them will take full advantage. This is entirely reasonable, and entirely wrong.
The school meals business also indicates what happens when the state gets involved in feeding people. Hospital meals - by some estimates 30-40 percent wastage - are another good example. If the state ran supermarkets, there'd be nothing on the shelves but carrots and cabbages. Oh all right, maybe potatoes on alternate Wednesdays.


  1. inevitable. Oliver's clearer message was that school dinners created slow-piosoned, attention-deficit thickos. the parents certainly wouldn't want that.

    the secondary message was give the little buggers raw carrot, falafel and beetroot burgers. but the kids don't want that.

    the problem here is one of too much choice. the only choice should be eat what you're given or go hungry. it's a good lesson.

  2. Mr. Oliver should have talked to me since I have a daughter in high school. My darling little girl would prefer to each mac and cheese or perhaps a soy burger at every meal. Or simply not eat. On a school day she skips breakfast and lunch because she hates to eat in the morning and despises the food at school. On a non-school day she skips breakfast and lunch because she doesn't get up until 2 PM.

    Personally, I think schools should give kids Big Macs and french fries for every meal as preparation for their adult life.

  3. Isn't this typical neagtive spin by the redtops your indulging in, so what if take up has dropped 20% (from where?) it still means those that are taking them up are eating a whole lot healthier.

  4. Wiped out by chips, nuclear missiles or meteors? Which would you choose?

  5. Bernard Matthews' Turkey Twizzlers, of course, Mopsa. (he's from Norfolk, you know?)

  6. My five year-old niece's favourite meal is, inexplicably, vegetables. Especially the ones kids are normally repulsed by, like Brussels sprouts and beetroot.

    And her parents are most definitely not health freaks.

    I think they should be very afraid.

  7. It's no good giving the kids healthy food at school when at home no one knows how to cook, so they continue to feed their addiction to micro-cr*p-in-a-box convenience food. Education, education, education is what's needed here.

    Time for the good old cookery lessons to return to teach kids that gravy doesn't always come in granule form, cottage pie doesn't have to taste like thatch, and that chickens were birds originally covered in feathers, not breadcrumbs.

  8. From age 11 to 18 i got by on about 5 hours sleep a night, and only ate one meal a day, in the evening. i'd have either a chocolate bar or can of Fanta or Coke for lunch. Didn't do me any harm, indeed i got so used to permanent hunger & tiredness i can go without food for ages, ignoring hunger as just another voice in the background, and i would regularly stay awake for 2, 3 days to see what it would do to my brain.

    It did some interesting things, as it happens.