Central planners' steady diet of conformity
By Ralph R. Reiland
Published: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
To move away briefly from the mud-tossing in the presidential campaigns, the big news out of Sweden is that lunch lady Annika Eriksson has been shut down.
Eriksson was an exceptionally creative and hardworking head cook at a school in central Sweden — too creative and too resourceful as it turns out.
Uniquely motivated to offer school kids a wide array of tasty, healthful and attractive foods, Eriksson baked her own fresh breads and changed the daily vegetable into an assortment of 15 vegetables as part of an ever-changing appetizing and innovative buffet.
Eriksson also did some fancy culinary footwork for the kids with chicken, shrimp and beef patties.
The kids had no complaints, and nothing busted the school's food budget.
Well, that was all too good, too yummy and too unequal for Sweden's overstocked supply of bureaucrats, central planners, food monitors and equity cops.
The talented and enthused lunch lady was “told to stop baking fresh bread and to cut back on her wide-ranging veggie buffets because it was ‘unfair' that students at other schools didn't have access to the unusually tasty offerings,” reported The Local: Sweden's News in English website.
“The municipality had ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same caliber of food — and that's unfair,” explained The Local. “Moreover, the food on offer at the school doesn't comply with the directives of a local healthy diet scheme, which was initiated in 2011, according to the municipality.”
Katarina Lindberg, head planner of the government unit responsible for coming up with the school diet scheme, told the local Falu Kuriren newspaper that the diet scheme's mandatory and uniform menu is “about making a collective effort on quality, to improve school meals overall and ensure everyone does the same.” The “same,” even if everyone is worse off. Or as Winston Churchill put it, “socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
What's reportedly next up is a government investigation of Eriksson's special and unequal smorgasbords for Easter and Christmas.
Sending a hopeful sign, fourth-graders at Ms. Eriksson's school, apparently not yet pounded into full obedience and conformity, have launched a protest petition.
Closer to home and reacting to another top-down, one-size-fits-all mandate on school foods, a group of American high school students has produced a YouTube parody, turning the song “We Are Young” into “We Are Hungry.” Masked students in the video, hungry and frantic, are shown robbing classroom refrigerators, sneaking off school grounds to buy junk food and collapsing to the floor during gym class because of their lack of energy and nutrition.
Emanating from a campaign by Michelle Obama to tackle childhood obesity, we now have federal “calorie maximums” for students through high school.
For a sixth-grader, the recommended minimum lunch last year was 785 calories. This year, it's been dropped to a maximum of 700 calories. For high school, the new lunch limit is 850 calories.
Responding to charges that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is causing hunger, a USDA spokesperson said, “One thing I think we need to keep in mind as kids say they're still hungry is that many children aren't used to eating fruits and vegetables.”
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.