Farm to School: Large Expenditures for a Little Lesson
School districts in Minnesota are paying more for food produced in their state — up to twice what they would pay if they bought it from other places. The districts say there’s a didactic purpose:
But the expense is worth it, partly because serving local food is a good way to teach kids where their meals come from, said Wendy Knight, the district’s coordinator of food and nutrition services.
For Knight, the disconnect between modern kids and farms was illustrated last month by a small boy who drew a picture of the grass-fed beef hotdogs.
“He drew a picture of a hotdog eating grass,” she said.
That’s a cute story, but a poor basis for policy. Purchasing food in Minnesota doesn’t give the boy any information about hot dogs. Food from his home state doesn’t look any different from food grown somewhere else. To enlighten him, his teacher could read him a book about where food comes from, show a video on the topic, or help his class research food on the Internet. Those activities would teach students where their food comes from, and would serve as an effective and cheap alternative to wasteful local food policies.
Besides, all little kids have mistaken ideas, if not about hot dogs, then about other things. We can’t write policies to set every five-year-old straight. When a child says something silly, it should go into a home movie, not the state statutes.