While kids in the United States don’t get enough time to eat lunch at school, and it’s undermining their nutrition, we Americans could learn a thing or two from how the folks in Saitama City, Japan, do school lunches.
In America, many kids get less than 20 minutes to eat their lunch. Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who did a study on school nutrition. “Kids who had less than 20 minutes to eat were consuming, across the board, less of everything,” he said. This is a mistake because, as one of his colleagues said in the article, “Many children, especially those from low-income families, rely on school meals for up to half their daily energy intake.”
Compare our system to how things are structured in Saitama City in Japan. There, they treat their food and their mealtime with much greater respect. They have longer to eat, and they eat as a group, with their teacher. Kids bring with them a little bag that contains all the things they need, including a cup and a toothbrush for when they’re done. All of the kids have jobs, in order to ensure that the food and eating environment is safe.
Much of the food itself is from a farm on the property. Five workers make 720 meals per day. And the food is good, too. In the video below, the kids eat fried fish with pear sauce from a local farm, along with fresh veggie soup. Not too shabby. When they’re done, all of the kids bow and thank the workers for their meal. Then they all clean the place up.
The striking thing to notice when you watch the video below is how happy and healthy these Japanese kids seem to be. It seems as though this immersive and mindful style of preparing and consuming school lunch has a variety of benefits Americans could benefit from.
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