Today, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to this article comparing school lunches in France and the US.
Not surprisingly, the French lunches are more beautiful, delicious and nutritious than the swill that often passes for food in the States.
However, as usual, the article starts with what the author feels is most important: not that French school lunches are both more nutritious and more interesting, but that these lunches explain, at least in part, why French children don't get fat. First of all, although obesity rates in France are much lower than in Canada or the US (according to the World Fact Book, published by the CIA!!, in the obesity sweepstakes the US ranks 18th, Canada 48th and France 108th), I seriously doubt there are no fat French children. Having visited France several times, I can attest to the fact that there is a typical French body type. The French are often small--certainly much shorter than the Dutch--and have a fine-boned, slight build. But that does not mean that every French person has that build.
I am furious at the reductionist vision of food that passes for mainstream thought in today's world: it's only good inasmuch as it doesn't make you fat.
And as to why French children (or, let's say a higher percentage of French children) are not fat, I can think of a host of reasons that have nothing to do with the wonderful food they eat. How about genetics, more active transportation, a better social safety net (as evidenced by the amazing food provided in the schools) that results in better outcomes related to the social determinants of health?
I fully support better, healthier foods in the schools and on all our plates because such food certainly contributes to making us healthier, though not necessarily lighter.
Here's a picture that I found on the Internet by googling "French food." It's not so different from the kind of food my family eats here in Canada, but I am certainly looking forward to trying a variety of delightful French foods and dishes on my upcoming visit to France!