Fine dining for French school children

A French school is attempting to combat unhealthy eating habits by hiring a chef to cook meals from fresh, local produce.

by: AFP: Isabelle Wesselingh | 09 May 2008

The aim is to energise listless teenage taste buds and control weight problems, which are currently estimated by the European Commission to affect about 22 million of the European Union's 75 million children.

Lunches, as prepared by Dominique Valadier, formerly a chef at restaurants on the Cote d'Azur and in the Alps, are priced at three euros for teachers and 2.20 euros for students. This is about half the price of a canteen meal at many other schools in France which can charge up to six euros per day.

For Valadier, a school should play a crucial role in teaching children how to eat properly and in turning them away from junk by ensuring they get the best possible choice food.

What about some turnips and artichokes?
For starters, to attract the wary teenager, Valadier dribbles normally unpopular turnips with honey and offers a choice of other fresh products including small amounts of carrots, artichokes in sauce or olive tapenade.

Given the students' reactions, with some saying they now prefer to eat in the canteen rather than at home, and others comparing it to a real restaurant, the eating-better part initiative seems to be working well, and will hopefully have positive results in terms of weight and general health.

"Dominique Valadier is proof that cooking with fresh products does not cost more," said Charles Symphorien Mercier, a doctor who specialises in the treatment of infantile obesity in Sarnary-sur-mer, another town in Provence. We say that vegetables are too expensive, but that is because we have lost the sense of the seasons," said Valadier.

In what ways do you think should SA schools be combating unhealthy eating amongst their pupils?

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