First Lady Michelle Obama is not a dietitian by profession, she is a lawyer. She also studied sociology.
Here is a photo of one of Michelle Obama’s FDA-mandated school lunches. It’s from Oklahoma.
The school superintendent is not impressed.
Chickasha superintendent David Cash agrees the skimpy lunches need to be addressed.
“You’ve got in some cases little kids that their only two meals are breakfast and lunch at school and they’re getting you know a grand total of 1100 calories. That’s not enough,” Cash says.
The new lunch complies with lunch regulations championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and implemented by the USDA.
Mrs. Obama’s school lunches have come under massive criticism for being tasteless, for lacking a real variety of foods that kids will actually eat, and for being too small, as above. Schools are still struggling to adapt to the FDA-enforced, Obama-approved school lunches. Many schools around the country have opted to dump the First Lady’s lunches.
In addition to being too small, too boring, and filling up trash cans without filling up kids’ bellies, there may be another problem with these lunches.
They’re mostly raw.
Cooked food enables humans to have bigger and smarter brains, according to this 2007 article in Scientific American.
Richard Wrangham has tasted chimp food, and he doesn’t like it. “The typical fruit is very unpleasant,” the Harvard University biological anthropologist says of the hard, strangely shaped fruits endemic to the chimp diet, some of which look like cherries, others like cocktail sausages. “Fibrous, quite bitter. Not a tremendous amount of sugar. Some make your stomach heave.” After a few tastings in western Uganda, where he works part of the year on his 20-year-old project studying wild chimpanzees, Wrangham came to the conclusion that no human could survive long on such a diet. Besides the unpalatable taste, our weak jaws, tiny teeth and small guts would never be able to chomp and process enough calories from the fruits to support our large bodies.
Then, one cool fall evening in 1997, while gazing into his fireplace in Cambridge, Mass., and contemplating a completely different question—“What stimulated human evolution?”—he remembered the chimp food. “I realized what a ridiculously large difference cooking would make,” Wrangham says. Cooking could have made the fibrous fruits, along with the tubers and tough, raw meat that chimps also eat, much more easily digestible, he thought—they could be consumed quickly and digested with less energy. This innovation could have enabled our chimplike ancestors’ gut size to shrink over evolutionary time; the energy that would have gone to support a larger gut might have instead sparked the evolution of our bigger-brained, larger-bodied, humanlike forebears.
Dr. Wrangham worked with Dr. Jane Goodall when she proved that primates other than humans are capable of making and using tools. He is no rookie or crank. He has been studying his cooked food theory for 10 years now. Many in other fields dismiss his idea, but he has pulled together considerable support for it.
What would it take to convert a chimpanzeelike ancestor into a human?” Fire to cook food, he reasoned, which led to bigger bodies and brains.
And that is exactly what he found in Homo erectus, our ancestor that first appeared 1.6 million to 1.9 million years ago. H. erectus’s brain was 50 percent larger than that of its predecessor, H. habilis, and it experienced the biggest drop in tooth size in human evolution. “There’s no other time that satisfies expectations that we would have for changes in the body that would be accompanied by cooking,” Wrangham says.
The problem with his idea: proof is slim that any human could control fire that far back.
As they say in science when they’re being honest and fair, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It just means that there is a gap in what has been verified.
So far, Wrangham has found that no current human group anywhere eats all of their food raw. Everyone cooks, across all human cultures. Modern humans need a lot of high-quality calories to support our high-functioning brains. We need cooked food to get those high-quality calories. Raw meat as seen in the Obama lunch above therefore doesn’t help much, according to Wrangham’s research (Wrangham has been working on this idea longer than Obama has been First Lady). Cooking saves energy that humans would otherwise have to spend chewing more food for longer periods — because “Heat alters the physical structure of proteins and starches, thereby making enzymatic breakdown easier.”
It’s not a slam dunk. There remains little evidence that our ancestors controlled fire far enough back to fit his theory. There are other dietary questions yet to be answered.
Whatever is the case, pretty much no one but Michelle Obama likes her school lunches — and she doesn’t even have to eat them.
Food for thought…