Dept. Of Agriculture Wants To Trick Kids Into Eating Better

The U.S. Department of Agriculture really wants kids to eat better, especially during school lunches where parents have a lesser impact on what their children shove down their gullets. To that extent, it is spending $2 million researching how to trick them into picking healthier meal options.

Writes the AP:

Some of the ideas include hiding chocolate milk behind plain milk, putting the salad bar near checkout, placing fruit in pretty baskets and accepting only cash as payment for desserts.

On the topic of kid’s food choices, we’ve written about a study showing that kids think food tastes better if there is a cartoon on the packaging, as well as a program to put carrots in high school cafeteria vending machines.

School cafeterias to try psychology in lunch line []


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  1. Nidoking says:

    It’s simple. Either genetically engineer health food that tastes better, or genetically engineer children who prefer healthy food.

    When do I get my $2 million?

    • ihatephonecompanies says:

      Or genetically engineer people so that junk food is good for them. Evolution works too.

      • Nidoking says:

        But we have entire industries founded on the proposition that fat, sugar, salt, sodium, and other things that make food taste good are bad for you!

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          No … they are good for you, that is why we crave them. But during the early years of human development, such delicious, necessary things were also SCARCE. Now that they are easily available, our bodies *still* go “omg, that is something that is hard to find in nature, I need to eat it. Eat it all. Now.” And like any good thing in excess, it becomes a bad thing. Fats, salts, and sugars are not bad unless you eat too much of them.

    • grapedog says:

      Or, make the food that is bad for you not be so cheap?

      When you can buy a shitty 1/2lb burger for less than a $1…. or you have to fork over a couple dollars for a couple apples or bananas, something is wrong.

      Bad food is WAYYYYYYYYYY cheaper than food that is actually good for you.

    • jesirose says:

      Healthy food does taste delicious. It just takes your body a bit of time to get used to eating it again if you’ve been eating unhealthy food. Our bodies are designed (evolved) to want the things that are good for us. We then became smart enough to synthesize those tastes and make them overpowering and unhealthy.

      When your body craves sugar, an apple will satisfy that craving the same way a candy bar will. Your brain might not be satisfied at first, but if you stick with it, you realize how tasty natural food is.

  2. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i’ve read stuff before about how to get kids to pick a certain one of multiple choices. apparently, all other choices being equal, people tend to pick the last one given to them.
    not to say that the salad bar is equal to the pudding cup in any kid’s mind but putting the salad bar near the checkout might be a little effective.
    but i could also see it backfiring as kids make a bunch of other choices before they get there and have spent all their money or their hands are full

    • mariex05 says:

      That’s what I was thinking..if their tray is already full, they may walk away from the salad bar.

    • ShadowFalls says:

      That only works if you give them three choices. Based on statistics, the answer is always “C”.

    • massageon says:

      That’s what I was thinking. Their hands might be full or they’ve already got everything, so then they wouldn’t be able to choose the saladbar.

    • invisibelle says:

      This makes sense if you don’t know ahead of time what the choices are going to be, but it’s not like kids are going to be surprised on a daily basis when they get to the end of their choices and the last one is salad again.

  3. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Healthy food can actually taste good instead of bland and nasty. Taking the time to cook healthy, delicious food pays off in the long run.

    Also, exposing children to a wider variety of healthy foods at a younger age will encourage them to be less picky and make healthier choices.

    Here’s another idea: encourage your children to be active. If they enjoy being active, they will not enjoy foods that make them feel drained, heavy, and tired.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      right, if the salad bar at my school had been something other than brownish iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, green olives and chow mein noodles – i might have eaten salad more often. aside from rotting lettuce, i like those other things, just not usually together

  4. Macgyver says:

    I tired of people telling other people what to eat.
    People should be aloud to eat what they want to. And if they don’t like it, so what. Stop forcing your health views on everyone else.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Moron. Children learn from their environment what to eat. If you teach them to eat pizza 4 times a week, that’s what they will do as an adult.

      Yes, let adults, who are old enough to make informed decisions for themselves (even if they don’t), eat whatever shit they want, but children have neither the intelligence nor experience to know what’s good for them.

      Also, literally all animals on earth control what their children do early on, to avoid stupid mistake that would otherwise kill them. It’s some wierd concept called evolution or something.

    • aloria says:

      Selling only healthy foods ina school cafeteria is not telling anybody what they can and can’t eat. If kids/parents don’t like the selection, they’re more than free to bring what they want from home.

    • Beeker26 says:

      Because when you and your kids are then 500+ pounds each and riddled with disease, who do you think is going to have to pick up the tab when they go on welfare and Medicaid and all want free gastric bypasses? Hint: it won’t be the them.

      It’s an absolute travesty the kind of garbage food schools allow kids to eat. Education shouldn’t stop at the door to the cafeteria. The lessons and habits they learn now will ensure healthy eating habits (and healthy adults) later.

      • Pax says:

        “Healthy” or not, most school-cafeteria food isn’t really FOOD. Certainly, it rarely if ever looks, smells, or tastes like it.

      • Macgyver says:

        The only thing they can do is educate them, and let the kids make their own decisions.
        There’s a big difference between educating them and tricking them.

        • ghostfire says:

          Children are not just short adults. They’re not mentally equipped to make fully thought out, long-term, rational decisions. Eight year olds don’t pile on the salad instead of the cake thinking, “Sweet! In fifty years, I won’t have diabetes!” That schools are resulting to subtle trickery to get kids to eat better means that the not so nutritionally sound options are still there – they could take them away entirely.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Unfortunately, we as a species haven’t evolved far enough to an “education-only” approach to life. We are physical being, and we learn by doing. ghostfire Has it down – children are not small adults, and need to be taught, shown, and allowed to experience the proper way to do things in order to truly “learn” how to do them.

      • LadyTL says:

        Not everyone who eats what they would like get to excessive weight levels. This assumption that everyone’s body works in exactly the same way as everyone else at the same age is ridiculous and poor medical science. Even family members can have different metabolisms at the same age. As an example when I was a kid I was skinny despite eating tons of junk food and candy, my sister is not and has to watch what she eats even at the same age I was. All children are not the same. What if a kid needs more calories than another one? Should they be penalized because their body is different?

        • Beeker26 says:

          Hellooo… have you been living under a rock for the last decade? Childhood obesity is at near epidemic levels. So yeah, the last things that schools should be doing is stuffing junk food down our kids’ throats. And if you’re a skinny kid who can eat anything and not get fat, well junk food still isn’t good for you, so they’ll be healthier too.

          I can’t believe that people are arguing to allow schools to feed our kids stuff you most likely wouldn’t feed your pets (or your pets would be smart enough not to eat). Seriously, this is a total no-brainer, yet some still feel the need to argue.

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            Schools aren’t stuffing any thing down anyone’s throats, parents are just to lazy to pack healthy lunches for their kids. If they really cared about their kid’s health and weight, they wouldn’t be depending on the government to take care of it.

            • Beeker26 says:

              And if they’re getting subsidized meals and/or come from poor households that can’t afford it? I dare say most parents have no idea how bad the school food is. It’s not like the school is going to tell them. I mean seriously, it’s been many decades since I’ve been in middle school and the food sucked back then. I can’t even begin to think what it’s like now.

              Of course I’m still trying to figure out why anyone would advocate feeding kids garbage. Or is your stance that only well-to-do kids, whose parents have the time and money to provide them with high quality meals from home, deserve proper nutrition at school? Is that what you’re trying to say?

    • OnePumpChump says:

      Kids should be able to learn whatever they want. Why do we need to force them to study particular things?

    • jessjj347 says:

      These are kids….

    • Andyb2260 says:

      I still think it’s funny that people keep harping on the food kids eat and not the fact that they get almost no exercise. Pull the damn video game controller out of their hands and make them go outside. and actually move their bodies.

  5. Alvis says:

    Why coddle them? They’re kids; they’ll eat what they’re made to.

    • ShruggingGalt says:


      I don’t remember having a choice when I was in school. It was what it was.

      /get off my lawn

    • newdogoldtricks says:

      I love this attitude. It won’t hurt them to eat healthier foods, so why shouldn’t we just take all the “bad” foods out of contention? Sometimes I feel like such an old fogy for being in my 20s and still feeling that “kids these days” thing, but seriously. They should eat what’s offered or find alternatives. They don’t really need to be coddled like special snowflakes.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        How is this coddling anyway? Children can’t go get the foods they want, or even the foods they think are healthy. They eat the foods we give them, so isn’t it our responsibility to give them the foods that make them healthy?

        The only people we are coddling is ourselves…from reality.

    • Kibit says:

      I agree.

      All of the schools I went to focused on quick cooking crap. Pizza, nasty hamburgers, burritos that I swear had grease bleeding out of the foil and the nastiest of all, the Flying Saucer. When my dad was stationed in Alabama we lived off base and the elementary school would serve a piece of fried bologna with a scoop of instant mashed potatoes on top and then covered with processed cheese food aka the Flying Saucer. I was obviously traumatized by this because I am now 32 and I still remember it. I never ate it, I packed lunch on those days.

      When we were stationed in Goosecreek, SC the middle school on base had a salad bar and each grade/class had a specific day of the week that they could eat from the salad bar. When ever it was our day we all ate from the salad bar and they would have to restock it a few times during the lunch period.

      Kids will eat good, healthy food. They get tired of crap too.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        wait, you were only allowed to eat from the salad bar one day a week?
        were they cheap, or trying to trick you into thinking it was special?

      • bsh0544 says:

        So the moral of your story is that if you make the crappy food crappy enough, kids will eat healthy?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          No, I think the point is that kids are going to eat what they’re given, go only give them healthy choices.

      • Conformist138 says:

        I sympathize. The school lunch that still haunts my dreams was Tricolor Tortellini. Three colors of pasta (green, orange, and standard “noodle”) that, despite the implication of spinach and carrot flavor, all tasted the same. The pasta was terribly overcooked to the point of being mushy, yet the inside was filled with “cheese” that was so dry it was like half-dried clay mixed with sand. There was no sauce on these sad culinary abominations, you were expected to eat them plain. Despite years proving that this dish is not standard anywhere, I still cringe when I see pasta with a similar mix of colors.

  6. BettyCrocker says:

    Cook healthy food that tastes good and give kids ample time to buy and eat it. It’s pretty simple in concept and apparently impossible in real life.

    Kids will eat what tastes good if they have the chance to.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    They should do a research to get adults to stop being stuuuupid.

    There’s a school in the US that is already experimenting with a different school lunch. Kids are taught where the food come from and are involve in preparing their own food. Guess what, kids love eating the healthy stuff!

    I don’t know the details…

    At the same time, other countries are already having student grow and cook the school lunches. We are a fat nation, instead of trying to figure out how to solve it, learn from other countries already have a system that works.

    • mythago says:

      I know the details. It’s in Berkeley and the program is shutting down because it’s out of money.

      Our tax dollars subsidize bad food.

  8. Raanne says:

    Why hide the chocolate milk, instead of just not carrying it?

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      Because the USDA decided it’s better that kids drink sweet, chocolate milk than no milk at all. They believe kids will not drink white milk.

      • Rose says:

        Which is stupid, because all kids will drink white milk, if the choice is white milk vs. nothing.

        • TasteyCat says:

          The choice wouldn’t be white milk vs. nothing. It would be white milk vs. juice or soda.

          • haggis for the soul says:

            Or water, which would not be a bad thing at all.

            • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

              When I was a kid, that was our choice. You either drank milk or you could use the water fountain. There were no soda machines, no chocolate milk, etc.

        • oloranya says:

          I would have drank nothing if the only option was white milk as a kid. Even now (at 23) I’ll go thirsty before I’ll have even a sip of white milk. It taste atrocious.

      • Martha Gail says:

        Believe me, I would have chosen nothing when I was in elementary school. Even now, there is no way I could stomach the taste of plain white milk.

  9. c!tizen says:

    Why not just offer only healthy foods? And leave the chocolate milk alone… it’s harmed nobody.

    • Pax says:

      My mother always let me have (one) glass of chocolate milk. OR, I could have regular milk, and a couple cookies (2 or 3).

      Either way, she was just happy to know I was getting an entire glass of milk, and drinking it all down.

  10. aloria says:

    Easy. Give the kids two options: healthy foods or nothing at all.

    They are children. You are adults. You have the authority in this situation. So poor little Bobby is upset because he has to have carrot sticks instead of french fries with lunch? Tough.

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      Bag lunch from home consisting entirely of potato chips.

      Let’s not kid ourselves. Parents are part of the problem we’re trying to solve. I’d say they’re also part of the solution, but I hate parents. I like kids, but parents are incredibly bratty considering they’re adults..

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    WTF? Just serve them only healthy items at school that are prepared well.

    If you stop serving them hot dogs and pizza, they’ll stop eating them. Hence the linked article about carrots.

    So instead of passing the school food reform bill in Congress, they’re spending 2 million on inane “research”

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      The problem is that pizza and corndogs are 1) cheaper 2) not heavily subsidized

      So against 1) they’ll be accused of wasting money and/or passing the cost along to the middle class, and 2) they’ll be accused of not being farm-friendly (not that the american farm is family run any longer, nor deserves to be gov’t supported)..

      so yeah. Until you untie the congress-urchins from the pockets of agribusiness, we’re kind of sol.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Healthy food is not a waste of money. How the hell is this not far friendly? They’d be supporting DIFFERENT farms, maybe, but healthy food doesn’t come from the sky. Someone farms it.

        • LadyTL says:

          It appears that way on a budget when the healthy food is almost double the cost of not healthy food that gives just as many calories.

          • bennilynn says:

            But, it’s not, because it’s not just about calories. Fresh, unprocessed foods provide more bang for your buck as far as nutritional quality goes. You may get fewer calories, but you’re getting more vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other essential nutrients. If you eat 2000 calories a day worth of french fries with gravy, pizza, fried mozzarella cheese sticks, and chips, you’re going to be in a lot worse of a situation than if you got 1800 calories a day from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and good protein.

            I eat very healthy and I cook pretty much all my meals from scratch. My grocery bill is easily a third of my roommate’s, who lives on a diet of take out and frozen pizza. It’s largely a myth, I think, that healthy foods are so expensive. They’re not, but it is more labor intensive and requires some planning so you don’t end up wasting produce (which, if you waste food, it will get expensive quickly). My grandmother’s generation somehow seemed to manage without the overabundance of overly processed crap. We can, too.

            Besides, of all the things to be cheap about, food should be at bottom of the list. Eating the right things in the right amounts will help improve your health over the long-term, which can add up to be a real cost savings when you avoid heart problems, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia as you get older.

            • LadyTL says:

              Take out and delivery pizzas are more expensive than prepackaged food from a grocery store. Also it is not a myth depending of where you live and potentially the time of year since most farmer’s markets close down during the winter. Also, your grandmother’s food didn’t cost as much as todays so you can’t really use a time 50 years or more ago to tell about food now. As well as cheap filling food and a multi vitamin cost less than trying to deal with perishables that have the vitamins in them already. As for the health problems, no one actually know’s on those things because there have been no lifetime studies of these eating habits. They are guessing based on a potential of those things happening. Finally, time and money vary from person to person. Just because you have the time and money to make things from scratch and using fresh things does not mean everyone else in the world does. Making assumptions helps no one.

              • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

                I can make a very healthy meal for a family of 3 with leftovers for lunch for $5.00. It may be meatless, but it is minimally processed, simple, full of veggies and nutritious. Hell ramen noodle soup with frozen veggies added is cheap and better fat and nutrient wise than a burger and fries and costs very little. It’s also easy to make a really good black-eyed pea or black bean soup. If I took the time, I could list and endless number of high volume, healthy, cheap, easy, tasty meals.

                While I agree that not everyone has money, I am also amazed that at my husband’s school, where 99% are on free lunch and “poor” most of the kids have IPhones and Blackberries. It’s often about choices and priorities.

    • jason in boston says:

      Agreed. Just don’t give the kids a chance. Provide less choice, but better quality and I think that would be a win-win.

      Here is where I would like to get an honest answer from a school board: how much in subsidies do the junk food industry provide the school? I would wage that the junk food people are giving the food at a loss to the schools. Just like cigarettes used to be almost free for the military.

  12. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    If you don’t offer them crap in the cafeteria, they will default to what’s available. Children will not starve themselves if they don’t have chocolate milk and pizza hut every day. Where’s MY $2 million???

  13. PanCake BuTT says:

    Eating right starts, IMO, even before birth. If parents have horrible eating habits, and that is what is being fed to an embryo/fetus, well that is laying down the ground works for a finicky eater. This is not written in stone, just a possibility. Also, I feel as if a newborn/toddler, is not fed a balance diet, then what could you expect of them when they enter pre-K, and the following years. Go fig.

    • travel_nut says:

      This, exactly. I have a 7 month old who eats exclusively breastmilk, fresh or pureed fruits and veggies, and whole grain cereal. I have family who tries to feed him french fries, ice cream, and other junk food. He has the rest of his life to explore junk food, but if he starts life on a solid base of healthy food, he’ll be that much better off later in life.

      (And btw, my family feeds kids junk food and soda starting at ~5 months, and then wonders why we struggle with obesity as adults. Let’s all ponder that for a minute.)

      • travel_nut says:

        (Since I can’t modify my post)

        I don’t mean he’s not EVER allowed to have junk food. Just that IMO he’s too young to introduce junk food yet.

        • Outrun1986 says:

          I think most people would agree with you that children at least under 1 year old shouldn’t be eating junk food. I personally don’t think they should have it until they are much older (lets hope most people agree with that). A baby definitely shouldn’t be eating any of it, though there are parents out there that feed it to their kids as soon as they are able to mouth food.

          The problem is if you don’t let them have a little when they get older they will just binge when they do get it, which is worse than having a little at a time. If the food isn’t in your house they will find a way to get it like at a friends house. The idea is not to have kids eating a large portion of fast food for every meal or for even one meal a day which is what causes obesity very quickly. Teaching portion control with all foods is also important so they don’t overdo it. When they are having a treat stick to the serving size listed on the box and it shouldn’t become a problem.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        That’s true that he has the rest of his life to explore junk food – and he’ll be old enough for his parents to teach moderation.

      • webweazel says:

        I overheard a conversation in a store one day, where a mom was talking to another woman about her about 6 month old baby. She said, ‘her grandma put Pepsi in her bottle, and now that’s the only thing she wants.” First off, she should give the kid what she NEEDS, not what she WANTS with no choice in the matter. It’s a baby for cripes sake, she can’t whip the bottle up for herself. Her preference will change. Two, she should slap the dogshit out of grandma, and tell her to get a clue.

    • Rose says:

      Except that real science says that you’re wrong. What’s eaten during pregnancy matters, but your body filters what’s given to the fetus. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. Definitely good enough to NOT pass on a pregnancy craving for chili dogs or fried cheese sticks.

      What’s eaten during infancy and childhood, however, does have a huge impact on the choices that children make when they’re old enough to have choices.

  14. redskull says:

    I’m torn on this topic. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of the government telling people what they should and should not eat. On the other hand, I recently started working a second job at a grocery store and am appalled at the metric tons of junk food that I see people buy every day, and at the number of people who can barely waddle behind their shopping carts.

    • newdogoldtricks says:

      Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really think this is an issue of the government telling people what they should eat. It’s the government telling public, government-run schools to only serve healthier foods. Totally makes sense to me. It’s not like they’re mandating private schools to stick to the same rules.

    • aloria says:

      Offering healthy food is not telling people what they can and cannot eat. That’s like saying a Chinese restaurant is telling you that you can’t ever have a slice of pizza; you’re always free to leave and go to the Italian joint down the street. (Or in the kids’ cases, bring their meal of choice from home.)

    • Dover says:

      The government isn’t telling anybody what they have to eat (beyond setting the cafeteria menu, which they do anyhow), they’re just trying to steer kids into healthier foods. Frankly, they’re not going far enough.

    • c!tizen says:

      You’re right, the government shouldn’t be telling people what to eat, the parents should have been doing this decades ago.

    • Rose says:

      The government _should_ be deciding the menu since the government is paying for it. No one is telling parents what they can and can’t send in a bag to school, you know. :P

  15. Jimmy60 says:

    How about not having unhealthy food as one of the options?

  16. Oranges w/ Cheese says:


    How about getting RID of the chocolate milk, getting rid of the pizza (or at least using REAL ingredients instead of mass produced-sodium infused-plastic)?

  17. Noadi says:

    There’s a very simple solution. Stop serving the junk food. Sure some kids will switch to bag lunches and bring junk food however school lunches are cheaper so plenty of parents won’t give in for financial reasons (especially those getting free or reduced lunch). If unhealthy foods aren’t an option the kids have to either eat the healthy food or go hungry, going to guess it’ll only take a few days of no lunch for kids to eat the healthy food.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      The problem is with federal subsidies on junk (corn!) a real food alternative for schools would be cost prohibitive. Parents would rather feed their kids the 69 cent bag of fritos and the 50 cent twinkie then pay $5 for healthy meals @ school.

      • travel_nut says:

        I do get what you’re saying…but what’s wrong with fresh carrot and celery sticks and a lunch meat sandwich? Granted, the lunch meat is not super healthy, but it is a healthier option than hot dogs and doritos.

        • LadyTL says:

          There is nothing wrong with it except the cost and perishabilty compared to prepackaged food.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          I’d love to eat salads every day at work. Or, for example I could eat lunch meat sandwiches.

          The salad is healthy, with some chicken breast its very good! The lunch meat is full of sodium and the bread is full of HFCS. The salad mix will go bad after 3 days in my crisper drawer ( and who wants to eat soggy brown lettuce ) and cost me $3. The chicken breast is frozen and cost me $9.99 for several.

          The bread cost $2 and the lunchmeat cost $2 and both are irradiated to the point they won’t go bad for a month.

          $13 for 3 meals or $4 for 10.. hmm.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          There are also many bean and rice based meals, inexpensive/high protein grains like quinoa, foods like hummus and whole wheat pitas, tofu stir fry’s, etc that would be cheap and WAY healthier than a sandwich with meat. My daughter’s school serves yogurt and fruit plates with small chunks of cheese, chef salads with some romaine and other veggies in them, and several other very healthy meals. Kids don’t need meat at every meal to get protein. And, when they do serve it, they can serve it with another protein source so they don’t have to use so much. It’s really expensive, adds to the cost of the meal, and increases cholesterol levels in children.

          I feel like the kids can eat what they are offered or starve. When I saw my kid getting a bit of a belly, we changed her eating habits fast. She was cranky and mad at first, but now she eats what she gets and is learning to like it.

      • mythago says:

        Parents aren’t paying for it if they’re receiving free lunches.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      The real problem is funding. It’s very difficult to provide food that is both cheap and fresh, and also served in an institutionalized setting. School lunches are also typically provided by the USDA and stocked up in warehouses for entire fiscal years.

      The vast majority of it is either canned, boxed or frozen and all of it has to have very long shelf lives. The system will have to be completely redesigned if healthy and fresh are to be considerations. At the same time, it’s also unlikely that parents would be willing to pay any kind of surcharge for healthier foods given the huge percentage of children who are already receiving free breakfast and lunches at school.

  18. sk1d says:

    Why can’t somebody invent a pill with all my nutritional requirements for the day?

    • OnePumpChump says:

      Because while you can fit the vitamins and minerals in a pill, you can’t fit all the calories in one.

      If you want you could take a multivitamin, eat a bowl of flour, some protein powder, and wash it down with a shot of oil.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      Read “In Defense of Food”. It is an excellent treatise on nutritionism and how this idea that we can get all the nutrients we need from a pill is absurd. There is still a lot we don’t know about how foods interact with each other and the nutritional benefits they provide.

  19. dangermike says:

    For some reason, I read the title as:

    “Dept. Of Agriculture Wants To Trick Kids Into Eating Butter”

    And I think I kind of like it better this way.

  20. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Oh sure. Put the CHOCOLATE milk behind the WHITE milk. Just stand down with your CHOCOLATE self, says THE MAN.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Its funny cause in my high school, which was a while ago the chocolate milk was up front and the white hidden in the back. There was also significantly more of the chocolate milk so that most of the time you had to dig to get to a container of white milk. This setup was just beckoning you to take the chocolate milk.

  21. GrammatonCleric says:

    This is definitely true, the high school here actually has shortened the lunch blocks to half of what they used to. This means there is nowhere near enough time to go to one of the entree lines and get a sub with deli meat and lettuce or a salad, and instead kids are forced to go to the quick snack line and get a bag of chips and a Powerade or whatever less healthy foods are offered there.

    Point being, we don’t need tricks or anything, just give the kids the option of healthy, properly prepared food, and the time to eat it. That’s where the $2 million should go.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      It’s so sad when they don’t get the time to eat. In middle school, my parents organized a coalition of parents who DEMANDED that children get enough time to eat. This problem wasn’t the actual lunch hour, it was the fact that our principal who LOVED to hear herself speak would spend almost 20 minutes on announcements at the start of the hour. And THEN she would scream at us to shut up if we got loud. And she would WAIT until we were quiet again to start off. Everyone was just anxious because we knew if we were the last table to be called, we would get 1-2 minutes to eat. I could usually only grab a bag of fries and woof it down.

  22. Razor512 says:

    how about this, Stock up on good tasting healthy food, if nothing else is available, students will eat it, especially if they are not charged for the lunch.

    When I was in high school, sometimes they would have a all vegetarian menu., students ate it because there was nothing else, and some of it was actually pretty good.

  23. dolemite says:

    Good luck with that. I absolutely hated 90% of veggies and ate no salad until I was about 20 years old. There was absolutely no way to “trick” me into eating something that I couldn’t stand the taste of. I still refuse to eat tomatoes, cucumber and a number of other things.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      May we ask why? Was it because you weren’t introduced to them? Were you expecting them to be bad?

      My aunt and uncle swindled their daughter into eating healthy foods by offering her prizes. That works I guess, but the way they built it up its no wonder she thought the brocolli would kill her. Damn, the kid wouldn’t even try CHOCOLATE pudding because they built it up so much and she was afraid it would taste terrible so it DID.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        The way to get kids to eat them is to not give them a choice. It’s easy to hate veggies when you get mac and cheese or chicken nuggets every time you ask.

        I learned to make main dishes with veggies in them like soups, stir fries, roasted veggie salads, etc.. so my child can’t avoid them. She eats what is in the bowl and gets nothing else.

      • dolemite says:

        No, we had plenty of tomatoes, peas, etc growing up. I’ve sampled things like Asparagus, turnips etc, and simply don’t like the taste of many of them. I mean…some people don’t like chocolate, some don’t like nuts…I pretty much dont like any melons, tomatoes, celery, and quite a few more things. I can tolerate leafy greens with dressing, and I do like corn, beans, potatoes.

        If they are prepared in a dish or with some flavoring, I can usually tolerate them, but fact is…most fruits/veggies are very very expensive, their flavor on their own is bland, and you are usually hungry again within 1-2 hours if that is all you ate.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          I think you’ve unfortunately suffered from overcooked veggies. On their own they’re extremely tasty with little to no additional flavoring.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I don’t make my kids eat anything they don’t want. I just don’t provide any alternatives. I try to provide a wide variety of foods but nothing terribly exotic. If they don’t like what’s for dinner then they’re more than welcome to go to bed hungry.

      I’ve never heard of any child in the USA starving to death because because they didn’t like their parents cooking.

  24. kataisa says:

    Or, instead of having the kids eat poisonous, below-grade USDA food that’s so full of chemicals and hormones that many kids suffer from food allergies and causes 9 year olds to suddenly sprout breasts and menstruate years before puberty, why not kick the USDA out of schools (as well as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and a host of other junk food marketers) and get the NATURAL OVENS people in instead to serve healthy, home-made meals? It costs just as much or even less than the USDA subsidized crap:

    The USDA Food Pyramid is a joke, they receive millions of dollars in bribes from the Big Food Industry (Sugar, Meat, Dairy, etc.) every year to ensure that the USDA DOES NOT recommend kids eat less meat and dairy and to eat more fruits & veggies. Meat and Dairy — with their copious amounts of chemicals and hormones — are the two foods responsible for making many of us fat, unhealthy, and allergic to other food.

    And why is chocolate milk available in the first place? The school I went to had only two milks available: skim and whole milk. You cannot trust that children — who are brainwashed by hundreds of hours of junk food advertising — will make the right food choices, it is the adults’ responsibility to show the kids the proper foods they should be eating.

    The USDA Food Pyramid is a joke, they receive millions of dollars in bribes from the Big Food Industry (Sugar, Meat, Dairy, etc.) every year to ensure that the USDA DOES NOT recommend kids eat less meat and dairy and more fruits & veggies. Meat and Dairy — with their copious amounts of chemicals and hormones — are the two foods responsible for making many of us fat, unhealthy, and allergic to other food.

    • Foodie92 says:

      There’s a lot of misinformation about food on the Internet. Some of it I saw in the articles you linked.

      I would like to see a movement where people take the effort to source peer-reviewed published literature. Generally, peer-reviewed articles are much better sources than blogs or op-eds. Academics tend to spend their lives becoming experts in very narrow fields of research. A lot of tax dollars are spent funding their research, even though only a small group of people end up reading their papers. If everyone made better use of the literature they generate, we’d get more out of our money.

  25. StuffThingsObjects says:

    They’ve really bastardized the term ‘psychology’ with this.

    Where the are the studies that prove this is effective or will have effect at all? I’d like at least and abstract and more importantly how the tests were conducted, under what socio-economic circumstances, with what ages of children, and in what areas of the U.S.

  26. wjmorris3 says:

    This might sound like a radical concept, but why not do three things at once here?

    One, ban all non-healthy food items from the cafeteria.

    Two, forbid brown-bag lunches.

    Three, make the cafeteria food both free and healthy.

    All three combined, and we’ll have darned healthy kids.

    • LadyTL says:

      With your second one, they better also be paying for all the kids lunches since that can force kids to have no lunch if they can’t afford the school lunch.

    • Rose says:

      Four: Let parents of children with allergies sue the pants off of the school when they refuse to provide appropriate meals.

      My son had an allergy to bovine protein, which was tons of fun. Now I homeschool, and it’s not a problem, but keeping them from issuing crap to my kids was a helluva problem.

      For instance, they refused to put soy milk that I purchased and brought to the school in their fridge, and give it to him. In addition, they MADE him take the milk, and then various people who were not his teacher would refuse to let him get water or a different drink, leaving him beverage-less during lunch.

      They would also try to force him to take foods with bovine protein in them, and argue with him, no matter how often I came up there at lunchtime to explain his allergy to them and wave his doctor’s note in their faces.

      Last, and most importantly, they refused to put packed lunches into their fridge. You could only bring dry goods from home. It sucked.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Forbid brown-bag lunches? Negatory. No government agency supersedes me in deciding what to feed my child.

      (Unless, like, they’re in juvy or something : )

      • wjmorris3 says:

        I applaud the idea, but if one cannot trust parents to pack healthy lunches for children, it should be the government’s responsibility to make sure they eat healthy.

  27. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Sometimes you have to let Darwin thin the herd. Let them eat whatever they want and they will die off sooner and that way we won’t have totally bankrupt Social Security and Medicare systems.

  28. Outrun1986 says:

    In my high school, for some reason that I will never understand, you HAD to take the milk. I think it was required by the government or something, they never told us the real reason. All we were told is that we had to take the milk and the lunch ladies were very firm about it. Whether or not the milk was drank is another story. Lets just say there was quite a bit of wasted milk during most lunch periods. We were NOT allowed to get a bottle of water, we were NOT allowed to get juice or any other beverage with the meal. If you bought the school lunch, you had to take the milk, simple as that. I went to high school from 1995-1999. Of course you always had your choice of bringing your own lunch, you didn’t have to get the school lunch.

    The milk case was mostly filled with chocolate milk. The regular milk was in the back, and there was hardly any of it. Sometimes there would be milk past the expiration date, they told us it was safe to drink up to 7 days past the expiration date. There was a juice machine that you could purchase separately from but it was not included with the school lunch. Soda machines were turned off until 3pm. They also couldn’t start selling snacks until at least 15 min into the lunch period until then only the predetermined school lunch could be sold.

    The food was really good when I started but senior year is when they started serving more and more processed food. Home made tacos and pizza turned into abominable frozen foods that were basically inedible. I had to make sandwiches for several of my classmates a couple times and bring them in since I did not want them to have to eat that horrible food. We knew that processed food didn’t taste good.

    If you start kids on decent food they will like it, and will grow to hate processed food if they get a taste of stuff that is truly terrible, that is what happened with my class.

  29. rmorin says:

    May not be practical because of time constraints, but giving children food in order of healthiness is a neat trick that gets younger kids to eat better. Since very young children lack foresight and restraint you basically put out the healthy items first, they get full on those and then eat other things in moderation. As long as they are not completely adverse to foods (if they are good luck getting them to eat it anyway) it works for the younger kids. So you give the kid a salad first, then once they are done move onto the starches, proteins, etc. throughout the meal.

  30. Rose says:

    How about have an adult watch their choices and their meals?

    I don’t understand why teachers don’t sit down with their class during lunch, and make comments like, ‘Jenny, eat your vegetables.’ and ‘Johnny, don’t drink any more milk until you eat your mystery meat.’. I know it’s more fun to gossip with the other teachers, but it’s more important for kids to eat correctly.

    News flash? Well-fed kids learn better. Sugared up kids act worse.

    • Tae of the SLA in LA says:

      Excellent idea … but when do teachers get their own breaks from students to enjoy their own lunches (which as adults, they’re free to bring what they want). Let’s just import nuns from local convents who will guilt/beat kids into eating their lunches in due time and get them back to class.

  31. Mulysa says:

    My son’s school has Tofu as their “healthy” option 9 times out of 10. I don’t really want him eating soy products, so he gets the non-healthy option most of the time.

  32. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Here’s an idea: How about you stop trying to trick them? Kids aren’t stupid. Let them talk to some people who have weight issues at older ages and how they wish they would have tried to eat better, younger – to build better habits.

    I’d volunteer. I ate crappy fatty sodium filled public school lunches — and they served DOMINOS right along-side, since no one liked ‘cafeteria food.’

    Guess which one every child opts for?

  33. Ecks says:

    I could have sworn this article was called “Dept. Of Agriculture Wants To Trick Kids Into Eating Butter”. I was disappointed when I clicked through to read it.

  34. amuro98 says:

    How about actually putting some effort into making better food, instead of just serving canned mashed potatoes, and substandard meat patties smothered in artificial gravy?

  35. pastthemission says:

    I first misread this as ‘eating butter’. I got terribly confused.

  36. VeganPixels says:

    How difficult could this be? Look at the fabulous success they’ve had tricking the
    US adult population into what it believes is “healthy food.”

  37. Japheaux says:

    Maybe the feds can appoint a School Lunch Czar and blame it all on Bush.

  38. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I make it easy. I pack my kid’s lunch and only put healthy things in it, period. It’s balanced, she gets fresh fruit and/or veggies, whole grain bread or pasta, and high quality protein. I allow her to buy 1x per week as a treat and expect that she will eat crap.

    If you want your kid to eat well, don’t count on the schools to do it, plain and simple.

  39. mowz says:

    A study’s been done that shows that children will usually say yes when asked, while in the lunch line, if they would like a salad.

  40. parabola101 says:

    I think the adults here should just TRY to eat what passes for food at the school cafeteria at a public OR private school. Most of the processed “food” is prepared by the same companies that provide prisoners their meals… In my 30+ years of experience with kids, they will generally eat high quality healthy food if its offered to them as an OPTION. Hence, IT’S NOT THE KIDS!

    I think these “studies” are put often put in place so that no one has to actually THINK, and have to rely on common sense… something that is becoming less & less common.

  41. Chaosium says:

    Don’t give them such terrible options, duh. Put more federal funding into school lunches.

  42. Cantras says:

    How about serve some fucking healthy food? French fries are not a vegetable. Nothing should have more than 1/5 its weight in cheese. Plain spaghetti should not be oily.

    As for the chocolate milk… Keep the milk fresh. I chose chocolate because the white milk had a serious funk taste to it.

  43. JeremieNX says:

    When I was in high school (2001 – 2005), you could get a slice of pizza and a soda for $2.50. A salad ALONE cost about $4. What do you think sold more?

    Instead of playing BS mind games, why not make healthy foods reasonably priced? Even today at my office’s cafeteria – you can get an unhealthy pizza-soda combo for about $3.50 and the salad costs $6.

  44. ShadowFalls says:

    I’m lost on this part, “accepting only cash as payment for desserts”. Do they expect kids to whip out a credit card or something? I’ve only ever seen them pay with cash…

    Also, if you think desserts are so bad… don’t sell them??? Where are they healthy options anyways? I thought their way of getting you to eat healthy was to bring food from home, as what they served was always terrible…

    • haggis for the soul says:

      In our schools, the kids had an id card that doubled as a lunch debit card. You could add money to it whenever and they didn’t have to carry money for lunch.

  45. Zydia says:

    Need pics of the salad bar – if it’s some depressing brown, wilted crap with a bowl of ranch and croutons on the side, then that’s their fault.

  46. operator207 says:

    “where parents have a lesser impact on what their children shove down their gullets.”

    Wow, way to lay blanket blame on all parents for what their kid eats. Though I guess I am ok with that. I have a 5 year old that would rather eat green veggies than Mac and Cheese. Does not like overly salty foods, and rarely eats sugared foods. Yep, I the PARENT did that. Blame me.

    On a related note, when the child finds out that the government “tricked” them into eating something, won’t the child start to harbor ill will against the government? Won’t that ill will turn to anger and contempt for government officials? This does not mean the 5 year old will be angry at the government when they are 5, it means that the 18 year old that was the 5 year old could become angry at the government. It makes me wonder.

    • webweazel says:

      “Wow, way to lay blanket blame on all parents for what their kid eats. Though I guess I am ok with that. I have a 5 year old that would rather eat green veggies than Mac and Cheese. Does not like overly salty foods, and rarely eats sugared foods. Yep, I the PARENT did that. Blame me.”

      Same here. My son, also 5, BEGS for broccoli and cauliflower at the supermarket, and eats it (even as his WHOLE dinner) when we’re out whenever he can get it. He loves snacks of bowls of cherry tomatoes. He likes vanilla yogurts mixed with either banana chunks or a shredded granola bar. If there’s a fruit available, especially bananas, plums, or peaches, he’ll beg for them. Blame us, too. Thank you!

  47. esc27 says:

    I wish they would spend some money just improving the quality of the food. I remember days when the only thing worth eating were crackers. I’d be surprised if the average lunchroom could even afford to put in a salad bar (fresh vegetables cost a lot more than cheap canned food.)

  48. dush says:

    Hiding the chocolate milk behind the regular?
    How about just not serving chocolate milk??

  49. dush says:

    Cafeteria should be an educational class. Nutrition, cooking, economics are all involved.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Cafeteria should be an educational class. Nutrition, cooking, economics are all involved.”

      I sympathize, but nutrition, cooking, and economics don’t matter if they don’t have the money, ingredients, or time. Those home problems preclude healthy cooking, better to at least fix things at the school cafe.

  50. Mclick says:

    Here is an idea for school cafeterias, charge less for healthy food and raise up the prices on the burgers and fries. When I was a kid I would go for the cheapest fast food I could get as I didn’t have tons of cash.

    Or…limit the unhealthy food that is available at the schools. Now if they choose to leave the school for food and bring crappy food from home, that is up their parents, who are likely obese anyway.

  51. mandy_Reeves says:

    sweet potatoes rock!!! they are a really awesome way for kids to get their vitamins. Baked sweet potato fries…

  52. pegasi says:

    you wouldn’t have to trick kids into eating healthier foods if what the school served didn’t taste like cardboard to start with, and there was enough time for them to get 500 kids through the lunch line and expect the last ones in line to have more than 5 min to eat. My son’s high school is like that. 30 min for lunch. 500 kids… and you wonder why they pick the fries and such, because they can eat it as they’re being kicked out the door to class.

  53. It's not my baby, baby! says:

    When did we get so concerned about our kids having choices. When I was in school, we had 2 choices everyday. The healthy, hot lunch or the healthy salad bar. Anything like desert or soda cost extra, so the parents could choose whether or not their kids could get the unhealthy items. There was even a lady near the salad bar that made sure you didn’t put more than 2 tablespoons of dressing on your salad!!!

    We can’t expect children to make healthy choices on their own. Hell, even most adults don’t do that! About 30 years ago, parents stopped being coaches and started being cheerleaders and our country is worse for it. Children are just like adults in that they will always choose instant gratification over long-term success unless they are taught otherwise by their parents.

    Take the unhealthy crap out of schools and only serve nutritious food! I live in Ukraine now, and in schools they serve porridge and vegetables almost every day and the children eat it with a smile!!! They don’t cry about their not being able to get french fries and pizza.

    American parents need to man up and take responsibility for their children by being parents and not “best friends” to their children. It’s so sad that parents give their children less choice over the television that they watch (which has no real impact to the children long-term) than their health.