As of Oct. 2, 2011, every meal served at French public schools must contain animal products. This French law was created to help control nutritional quality. While vegetarians naturally react strongly to this law, I find myself torn.
I am an omnivore. I actually think that using animal products in school lunches, as a general rule, is excellent and if my child was going to a French school, I would be very glad. It forces schools to concentrate on the more expensive animal products, which I happen to think are more nutritious.
School lunches in America are not a good example by any account. The food is often completely overly processed, whether vegan or meat focused. I think we could learn a lot from the French schools about how to feed our children well.
However, what I get nervous about is the government dictating what can and can’t be served in such broad sweeps. If this same type of overarching law were passed in America, I think it could possibly shut out animal products rather than support them. Any time a political entity makes a law that has such profound effects on food demand, you can be sure that there will be various political pressures that could — and probably will — shape that law.
In the end, while I would be happy to have my children eat in French schools right now, how long would that last? Would political pressures eventually force schools to serve only vegan fare? I'm not sure we can trust government whims to regulate school lunches.
I would love to see parents' voices being heard in their local school districts. It’s their tax money funding the schools. It’s their children eating the food. I think they should have more of a voice in deciding what goes into school lunches.
What do you think about this recent decision by the French government?