Sarah Brodsky
The Christian Science Monitor describes a Farm to School program in Vermont that encourages local meat consumption. This student has gotten the message (emphasis mine):
"I think it's really good because we get healthier here than at my old school, and we get more fruits and vegetables and local meat," says fourth grader Morgan Jones.

The district bought meat from a local farmer, spending an additional $1 per pound above the price it would normally pay.

As Farm to School expands to include products like meat or cheese, it gets harder for supporters to justify the program as anything but protectionism. The appeal of local fruits and vegetables is easier to relate to. Anyone's who's eaten delicious fruit right off the tree can sympathize with activists' support for local produce. (At least, we can sympathize in the early fall and late spring. Activists still have to explain how local produce is superior during the rest of the school year, when very few fruits or vegetables are harvested. Many will say to preserve the local food in the fall — but is locally preserved food really better than food that was preserved somewhere else, or shipped in fresh?)

Meat, on the other hand, has no local advantage at any time of year. There's no such thing as a hamburger picked fresh off the cow. Meat has to be preserved and prepared no matter where it comes from. Its quality depends on factors like the health of the animals and how safely the meat was handled.

It would be great if Missouri districts could resist this Farm to School trend and refrain from insisting on local meat. Districts should shop around for the safest meat at the best price — and not settle for whatever meat happens to be raised nearby.

About the Author

Sarah Brodsky

Sarah Brodsky