Issues like this really make me shake my head. We have farmers complaining about the percentage of the food dollar that they receive, complaining about who is owning what and selling what to who, and a variety of other topics where farmers are at opposite ends of the spectrum. We grumble at each other enough that we do not need "activists" fighting us also.
So I really shake my head and give a moment of silence for another loss in the agriculture community when 80,000 students do not have the option of buying a meat product for their lunch at school.
The Baltimore City Public Schools system on Wednesday became the first in the United States to pledge to serve no meat on Mondays, according to the organization behind the campaign called Meatless Monday.
The move means 80,000 students have no meat option on Mondays. Next Monday, the menu offerings, as posted on the school district's Web site, are limited to an entrée selection of mini ravioli or grilled cheese and a side selection including mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes and fresh fruit.
In a press release, the group, an affiliate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it presented Baltimore school officials its 2009 Award for Visionary Leadership in Local Food Procurement and Food Education.
"The Meatless Monday campaign, initiated in 2003 with Dr. Robert Lawrence and Dean Alfred Sommer, has become a growing international movement of individuals, organizations and communities committed to cutting out meat one day a week for their health and the health of the planet," said Sid Lerner, Chairman of the Monday Campaigns.
Meat industry advocates, however, said Baltimore students will be missing out on nutritious proteins and should at least be offered a meat option on Mondays.
"The U.S. Dietary Guidelines have affirmed time and again that meat is an important part of a balanced diet, because it contains vital amino acids and nutrients that are essential for the growing bodies of young adults," said Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Meat Institute, in a statement e-mailed to Meatingplace. "Additionally, for young adults who are working to maintain a healthy body weight, meat is an important part of the diet because it's nutrition-dense and helps with a feeling of satiety. We believe that students should be free to choose whether or not they wish to consume meat, instead of simply removing it from the menu and depriving them of that choice."