"Make sure to eat your greens with a meal containing fat, so that you can absorb the calcium."
"Dress you salad with olive oil so that you can absorb the calcium in the greens."
This is common, and sound, advice amongst the "healthy" eating, "clean" eating, paleos, and primal eaters, but when it comes to dairy, and in particular in regards to school lunches and the USDA's myplate recommendations, we get a different message.
"Low fat dairy doesn't have the fat necessary to absorb the calcium, so don't drink it."
Ok... But the fat in the meal suddenly doesn't count when it's about milk? And really, how much fat does it take?
I understand that school lunches (because of the USDA) are bad, but low fat milk, unfortunately, is probably the healthiest item left on the menu. Let's work with it while we still have it.
- School lunches do not
ofteninclude greens cooked in fat.
- School lunches may serve salad, but my kids are not reporting them to be green salads dressed in olive oil. When there is a salad, It seems to be iceberg and/or romaine, and ranch dressing. You can argue the benefits of romaine over iceberg, but anyone who relies on one cup of romaine for their nutrition hasn't thought this thing through.
- School lunches are one meal a day. You still have at least two opportunities, per day, to feed them good food, so I'm sure they aren't calcium deficient from this one carton at school.
- Even low fat milk is a better source of protein than extruded chicken nuggets or pizza.
I do think school lunches, snacks, and vending machine policies suck. I think the decisions to provide low fat, chocolate, and skim milk at schools is based on crappy "science" and food politics, but the plain milk is the least of our worries when we still have low fat floury pizza, bean burritos, chicken nuggets, soybean and corn oils, and other truly unhealthy foods as mainstays of school lunches. Compared to these foods, low fat milk is a winner.
For more about improving school foods and making the milk our kids do get better, keep up with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and sign the petition. Milk, particularly low fat milk, is not perfect, but if we wait for perfect, we wait forever.