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February 16 2017

California District Cuts Meat and Cheese From Its School Menus to Fight Global Warming

Charlotte Allen

Hey, kids, no hot dogs for you!

No pizza, either!

Instead, you'll be eating--mmm, mmm, mmm--tofu veggie stir-fry!

Yum!

You see, the school district  Oakland, California, has decided to fight global warming by cutting most of the meat and cheese out of school-cafeteria lunches. Because apparently chugging down tofu chunks is not only good for you but good for the planet.

So, kids, you can now be the youngest warriors in the battle against climate change.

The report from the Oakland Unified Shool District is titled Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprints of School Food.

I've heard of carbon footprints, but water footprints?, you may ask. Well, that's because, even though the 700 foot-high Oroville Dam might be on the verge of collapse owing to record rainfalls and flooding all over the state, the Oakland school authorities are still under the impression that California is suffering a drought.

Here's what the school district says:

Overconsumption of animal foods is unhealthy for us and unsustainable for our planet. Animal products are the most resource-intensive fods in our diet, requiring massive water and energy inputs. Studies show that we cannot avert the worse impacts of climate change or protect future water supplies unless we make food production more sustainable, waste less food, and reduce meat and dairy consumption in favor of plant-forward meals.

And nothing says "plant-forward" like a tofu veggie stir-fry.

The report includes a chart, prepared in conjunction with Friends of the Earth, showing that producing a beef hot dog emits six times as much carbon dioxide as producing that tofu stir-fry. Pepperoni pizza is up there, too, as is Asian chicken.

In another carbon-shaving strategy, the school district plans to mix chopped mushrooms into the hamburgers--which, by the way, will be made with meat from old dairy cows, another cutting-edge food fad in Northern California. Here's the school district's report on that one:

The amount of water you’d normally need to raise a cow for meat could now be used to get both milk and meat.

One teensy problem: The "retired organic dairy-cow" meat from Mindful Meats, the fancy Point Reyes Station ranch where the school district sources (along with some chic Bay Area foodie palaces), costs $9.99 a pound. You'd need a lot of mushrooms to make that work out economically. Fortunately, however:

"[Mindful Meats founder Claire] Herminjard said that because of her interest in food justice, she has made it the company’s practice to offer school districts a sizable discount — as much as 30 to 40 percent off, depending on the item.

So hey, kids! Food justice, plant-forward, no more hot dogs! What's not to like?

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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