Friday, March 6, 2009

Michelle Obama: Lovin' America with Risotto

The IFA blog posted a piece this morning on the state of the American corporate cafeteria. Having worked for the non-profit sector all my career, the thought of having such an employee amenity at my disposal is as foreign as Christmas bonuses or office parties not preceded by the word "potluck."

Even so, IFA makes a great point. How can we even pretend to care about the quality of the meals we feed kids in public schools when most corporate cafeterias - the Beemer of high-volume lunchrooms - sell adults swill smothered in cheese? My observation has been that European companies do an amazing job of offering cafeterias with impressive food - a truth illustrated by the change that happened when my husband's Dutch employer was bought out by an American company last fall. Literally overnight, the employee cafeteria food went from fresh fish grilled to order to coagulated meatloaf sitting under a heat lamp. And the meatloaf was more expensive.

I was inspired by another news item this morning that occurred in a cafeteria setting most consider to be even below the standards of a public school: Michelle Obama volunteered at a soup kitchen in DC yesterday. Rather than serve their usual menu, she brought with her mushroom risotto and broccoli from the White House kitchen. That kind of respect for how we nourish other people's bodies and spirits in even the most basic of ways isn't the norm, which favors efficiency, convenience, and cost containment. This makes me like Michelle even more.

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