Roast guinea fowl for preschoolers? Beet salad? Beef tongue? Endives? Freshly-made, three- to four-course hot lunches are served every day to 6 million kids all over France (vending machines are banned, and kids are discouraged from bringing lunch from home — but frankly who would want to, with these delicious meals on offer?). In a Tour de France of French school food, I blog weekly about these menus (which schools proudly post on their websites). Teachers and parents teach French children to enjoy eating these foods, starting at a young age. For weekly menus, and an explanation of the French approach to school lunches, visit my French Kids’ School Lunch Project.
Some fun (and often cute) food-related ideas that French families use to make family eating fun. Check out the adorable cutlery!
Resources: The Food Movement
The food movement is growing daily, so it’s impossible to keep up. But here are a few of my all-time favorites. (Just to be clear: I don’t get endorsements or free samples…these are just things I happen to love!)
Today I Ate A Rainbow (Kits for Preschoolers): A fantastic idea for teaching younger children to have fun while eating their veggies; I love their adorable Rainbow Kits.
Fun, playful plates with dividers sized to meet USDA recommended portion sizes. Ingenious idea! Reminds them (and you) to eat their veggies: Super Healthy Kids
I wish I had discovered these plates when my older daughter was still a toddler.
Lovely eco-friendly lunch box sets by Lunchaporter.com, inspired by Japanese Bento Boxes. Mom-designed. They even have a ‘banana-guard’ to prevent leaky fruit mushiness!
Great card-based game to play at the table with older children: Crunch a Color
Works well with my seven year-old; she loves the idea of earning ‘points’ for everything from eating her vegetables to trying something new!
The amazing BebeCook, designed in France (and now available in North America–yay!) will steam, puree, reheat and even defrost baby food, all in one chic little machine. I used this constantly when my kids were little. Amazing time-saver…and avoids the mess of dealing with multiple pots and containers. They patented this thing, and rightfully so.
If you’re in the Toronto area, check this out: Real Food for Real Kids will deliver a freshly prepared, organic meal to your child’s school or daycare, every day. When are you guys coming to Vancouver?!?!?
Blogs: Families and Food
A favorite ‘family food’ blog: the Sweet Potato Chronicles….Women after my own heart.
Bettina Siegel writes about the politics of school lunch reform, and provides amazing recipes, at The Lunch Tray. An insightful and informative blog.
The Jolly Tomato is full of great advice on picky eaters, and interesting articles galore.
Monica White blogs on urban farming, environmental justice, and food justice at Soil2Soul.
Blogs: French Food
Laura Calder‘s books (and TV shows) are a wonderful introduction to French cuisine. French Food at Home is still one of my favorites!
La Tartine Gourmande, where Beatrice Peltre shares gorgeous photos, and writes about food, France and parenting. Exciting to see her new cookbook coming out!
Chocolate & Zucchini is one of my favorite blogs about French food. Lots of decadent desserts…say no more.
David Lebovitz’s motto is “living the sweet life in Paris”, and judging by his blog that’s exactly right! Great recipes and tips on good places to eat in Paris — harder to find than you might think!
The Centre for Science in the Public Interest is a powerhouse of the food reform movement. Check out its class action law suit against food companies’ ‘candification’ of fruit snacks.
The inspiring Farm to School movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Find out if there is a program in your area. If not, why not start one?
Two Angry Moms: a campaign to change kid’s lunches.
More of us should be this angry! Seriously, this inspired me to start my own campaign at my kids’ school…
Great ideas for starting a school garden:
Each class had a garden at the village school in France, and we miss ours a lot. Great way to encourage kids to eat more vegetables.
Last, but definitely not least, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Sign on to the petition!
Books for Parents:
Marion Nestle’s What to Eat and Food Politics (2007, MacMillan)
Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (2008, Penguin) and Food Rules (2009, Penguin)
Books for Kids:
Eating the Alphabet (Lois Ehrlert, 1996, HMH) (preschoolers)
Alexander and the Great Food Fight (Linda Hawkins, 2002, Turner) (5 to 8 years)
Did You Eat Your Vitamins Today? (Ena Sabih, 2011, Heart to Heart) (5 to 8 years)
The Vegetables We Eat (Gail Gibbons) (8 to 12)
Books for Teens:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Reader’s Edition (Michael Pollan, 2009, Dial) (teens)
Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food (Eric Schlosser, 2008, Houghton Mifflin) (teens)
Curriculum for Teachers:
For (english-speaking) students in a French class, this is a great project for learning about French school lunches, and improving your French vocabulary! Complete with worksheets and teaching guide: http://www.zunal.com/process.php?w=115209