by Marion Nestle
Jan 15 2010

The latest “eco-stunt:” school food

In her riveting New Yorker review of Colin Beaven’s No Impact Man and other books based on year-long experiments in green living, Elizabeth Colbert coined the term, “eco-stunt” to describe them.   Julie Powell’s Julie/Julia blog project extended the genre to eating.   In this category, an intrepid school teacher, Mrs. Q, has vowed to eat school lunches every day for a year.  She is, of course, recording the details for posterity.  Will she survive?  I can’t wait to find out.

Update January 19: Thanks to Andy Bellatti of Small Bites for doing a personal interview with Mrs. Q.  I’m happy to see that she is indeed surviving, and flourishing at that.


  • Sarah Smedley
  • January 15, 2010
  • 10:53 am

What does it prove? If it brings awareness to the issues around school lunches, which I assume are not so healthy, is it of value? Or just more noise?

  • Carla
  • January 15, 2010
  • 12:14 pm

I suspect as Mrs. Q. blogs and more people find their way to her diary, that at least in Illinois where she is from, there will be some outraged parents and hopefully, an equally outraged school board. Those are some of the worst-looking school lunches I have ever seen. I think (hope) schools do better than that around here.

  • Subvert
  • January 15, 2010
  • 1:28 pm

Disgusting!!! All that polymer plastic packaging that the food is being heated in (scary!), and all the waste. I hope this gets some press and parents start to give a sh*t what is being slopped out to their kids for lunch.

  • Elaine Corn
  • January 15, 2010
  • 2:27 pm

She’d better eat-and-report quickly. Opportunity to improve school lunch won’t come up again for 5 years. Better yet, have students in senior class cook lunch for the rest of the school as a requirement for graduation. Prep is during Zero period.

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  • Anthro
  • January 15, 2010
  • 5:06 pm

No greens at all. This is the result of thirty years of giving kids what they “want” to eat, mothers (or dads) not packing lunches, and the marketing scams that have influenced not only today’s kids, but many of their parents as well, who have grown up on this sort of nonsense.

I packed lunches every morning even when I worked outside of home–peanut butter or tuna on whole wheat, apple or orange, salad in a dish and a cookie (only one, not too big) or single serving chips. Soup in a thermos in the winter and milk money (no chocolate in those days). Sometimes, juice in the thermos–no little boxes and such. Brown paper bags and waxed paper sandwich bags–mostly reused all week. Four children…nobody fat—never more than a simple cold for any of them—environmentally responsible adults.

My primary responsibility was to feed my family what was then called “proper” meals as economically as possible. It is hard to believe that someone shells out money for the meals described by Mrs. Q. Ugh!

  • Cassie
  • January 15, 2010
  • 7:04 pm

Wow! Those are disgusting looking! I hope she brings some attention to the topic –do you suppose there will be a movie based on her blog? :-)

  • Cathy Richards
  • January 15, 2010
  • 8:06 pm

This is going to be fascinating to watch. I’m having a blast imagining the screenplay or documentary that will hopefully spring from this!

This is disgusting! Kids would be harmed because of this. Plastic is heated and it will definitely be in the food.

  • Mrs. Q
  • January 15, 2010
  • 11:00 pm

Thanks for the mention. I certainly don’t feel “radical.” I’m simply trying to raise awareness about this important issue. I would like my students to get additional nutrition options from my actions. I’m grateful for the supportive words.

Ew, I could not survive on school lunches for a month, let alone a year. Her health is bound to dive…

  • Emily
  • January 18, 2010
  • 1:20 pm

Mrs. Q, you are either brave or foolish (or perhaps both), but either way, I hope you will bring some critical attention to this issue. And also, that you, like Morgan Spurlock, are able to return to health once your experiment has ended.

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