Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ann Cooper: Kickin' Butt and Takin' Names

Speaking of the school lunch program, blog follower A. Brown sent in this great clip of Ann Cooper, director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley Unified School District and author of Lunch Lessons,at a 2007 conference:

Woo hoo! I love the passion and intensity she brings to this issue.


Loni said...

That was awesome!I loved that!

crystal said...

that was so inspiring! it makes me want to contact my local school district and start working for change!

Avery said...

Ann Cooper spoke at my college last spring. She's a really hard worker!

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

As an overweight 40 year old SAHM responsible for 2 little ones whose been feeding them this junk, where do I start? *sigh* It's so overwhelming.

And, how do I get family (particularly grandparents) to stop feeding my kids cheese from a jar, Doritos, and ice cream?

And, how does someone who's a "meat and potatoes" cooker learn about better foods and how to cook them in a way that's tasty.

How do I break these bad habits for myself and for the kids?

And, it's so expensive buying more fruit, veggies, organics and such - what's the best bang for my buck to start with?

Princess Tuesday said...

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings: it's great that you want to start making some healthier choices for your family. My suggestion is that you start at home by cooking more meals from scratch using lean meats (sorry vegans!), fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Once you're comfortable with that, then start worrying about what they eat outside the house (like at grandma's). Don't try to tackle everything at once. I can tell you from experience that you AND your kids will feel better and enjoy food more when it's prepared at home from wholesome ingredients. Make them help you shop and cook! Also, check out this link: Good luck!

Unknown said...

To Beth and Princess Tuesday:

I think this site is a helpful resource as well for families and individuals trying to make changes to their eating and cooking habits while being frugal and using what you may already have:

You can search for recipes by title OR entering in an ingredient you may already have. It also has search criteria to help you find resources to being eating better in general. I hope it is helpful!

M.C.T. said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing that...TED is a great site, btw! Her passionate expression of the direness of the nutrition situation in this country, for children AND adults, brought tears to my eyes. Go, Ann!

Unknown said...

That was great! I presume you've already seen the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who's been fighting for better school meals here in the UK -

Skirt on a Bike said...

Hi Jennifer,
This question is off topic but I know you use a Vita Mix blender frequently and I am considering buying one. I noticed that the Vita Mix units can come with a "wet" and "dry" blade option (container). Is this real;y necessary? I can create oat bran and flour in my regular blender with pretty good results. I am skeptical that a much more powerful blender such as the Vita mix needs needs two separate containers and blades. The cost of the Vita mix deluxe model is substantially more than the regular model (without separate wet/dry containers and blades). I'd really like one of these units but balk at shelling out $550 for separate blades and containers when I suspect that the regular model can do both just fine.
Any thoughts?
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! This is the first I've heard of Ann Cooper and I'm hooked. Thank you for sharing this!

Melissa May said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I also posted it on my blog and hope that some of my friends will take the time to watch the whole thing - very insightful!

To Beth/Mom2TwoVikings - Just take it slow! That is what I did last year - I just started making a conscious effort to slowly weed the junk food out of the house while replacing it with fresh food. Organic food IS more expensive, so we shop locally at farmer's markets and such whenever we can. When I still ate meat, I would "splurge" on the good organic turkey and things like that. I started making my own bread (which is actually pretty easy) once a week and also making my own sweet treats as well. That way we always have something sweet around - but I know exactly what is in it.

I am a Vegan now and my husband and daughter are not. Since I cook the meals they are sort of a captive audience, though, and I have just slowly added more and more vegetable/fruit/grain dishes and reduced their meat intake. We save so much money now on not buying as much meat, we can AFFORD the good, organic produce in addition to what we get at the Farmer's Market.

Just do the best you can. The internet has a wealth of information, support and recipes. Get your husband and kids involved - have them do meal planning and shopping and cooking with you whenever you can. Also, plant a small garden and grow something simple like cherry tomatoes or squash and have the kids be in charge of it. Its a great motivator!


Jennifershmoo said...

Hi Kiki! Regarding the VitaMix, we have both containers and use them both. But if you're just going to blend oats into oat flour, I'm sure the wet container would work just fine. If you're thinking of grinding dry corn or whole wheat berries, things like that, I would recommend getting the dry container, too. Have fun!

Anonymous said...


I am blown away.


Anonymous said...

Loved it! I will post it on my blog and pass around to friends too. Get the word out there!

On another note, buying organic is more expensive than buying non-organic, but you will actually be saving money in the long run by not eating out at fast-food restaurants and you won't have extra health care costs from being sick all the time.

I have been vegetarian for about 5 months now and am slowly working my way to being 100% vegan. I buy organic whenever possible. This past couple of weeks my entire department at work has gotten sick from a cold bug, guess what - I didn't get sick! I feel so much healthier than I used to feel! It really makes you wonder about all the crap the government recommends we eat...

I say to give it a try, the worst thing that can happen is you find out that it's not for you. The best thing that could happen is that you and your family feel better.

swan said...

Check out before buying a Vita-Mix. If you can get past the gimicky blend it guy's demo, the Blendtec is cheaper, does wet and dry, fits under your cabinets better, and has as much horsepower. I saw it demoed with food, among many other crazy things, and wish I had purchased it instead of my VM which I still love.

Laci said...

Wow! That video was so provacitive and interesting! That woman seems really intelligent and determined! Thanks Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

It kind of confuses me when people say they don't change their habits because eating healthy is expensive. Where are you guys shopping? Off-season fruit and organic products can get pricey, but as a vegan with no job, I have to be very thrifty. I can get an entire bag of potatoes for the same price as some sort of prepackaged meal in a box. My advice is just echoing the other people in saying that you need to cook at home. My roommate's son is much more likely to eat his veggies when he is in the kitchen helping us. And he LOVES helping us make fruit smoothies! My favorite web site is Good luck Beth! I really hope things work out for you because cooking together really brings the family together; it's great to sit around the table and eat a wholesome meal you all took a part in.

Debra Phillips said...

Wow. She makes sense, and I had not heard many of the statistics prior to this video. Her passion for the issue is obvious. It would be nice to see how the candidates would respond to her questions in one of the upcoming debates.

Many years ago, when I was in high school, the school began a pizza program and a salad bar. So, the students had a choice of the regular lunch, pizza, or salad. There was a lot of pizza eaten by the students every day, but there were quite a few salads as well; mostly the salads were eaten by girls as a method of dieting. However, I prefer Ann Cooper's idea: Make the lunch itself healthy and teach children in the process.

Jim Gerl said...


I just voted for your excellent blog for the Bloggers Choice Awards.

Could you please return the favor at:



Bharti said... first visit to your blog and so far I love what I see!
This video was amazing and it's all the stuff I want to say to people and feel strongly about.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Thank you to those above with your supportive comments.

And, for those that responded to my comment about the cost of organics: we are on the Dave Ramsey plan for getting out of debt and I'm currently feeding the 4 of us on $60/week as well as cooking at home 18-20 meals per week.

My hubby gave up meat after attending a "healthful living" class. Since it's a health/weight loss thing more than a moral/ethical stand, I still cook w/half portions of meat for flavor and to phase it out for the kids but even that is probably less than half the meals we eat.

He also gave up white sugar in his coffee and he replaced it with Stevia. As a result of the above two things alone, he immediately lost 25 pounds.

I've also given up meat as part of a 40-day fast. After the initial re-thinking of how I'd cook and eat, I only missed it during that certain time of the month which later I attributed to low iron.

I spend less than $10 of our $60 on meat each week. And, I am regularly buying 3-4 types of fresh fruit and 2-3 types of veggies each week.

It's the soy products, whole grains identification, and the more non-mainstream veggies and fruits that are a bit intimidating. (For example, I cooked eggplant for the first time last week!)

And, it's the higher cost and lack of access we have in a relatively rural area more than a hour away from the nearest "big" cities of 77,000 and 105,000 people.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am very happy for you Beth! There are lots of ways to add flavor without meat; I make soups with something called "no-chicken broth" and you can use poultry seasoning to flavor meat. As for produce, something you can do to help cut costs is to buy things that perish quickly in frozen form. Also, buying in season helps; for instance, eat more pumpkin in the fall but eat less of something like strawberries, because the prices skyrocket. I know what it's like to be on a budget so I feel for you but it can definitely be done! Good luck. :)

tripetal said...

thanks for sharing that great video! it is so encouraging that Ann Cooper is out there doing that. I want to sign on with her! Also, this is a silly website to state this, but to the 'where do i start?' momma, pick up a copy of Skinny Bitch, The World Peace Diet, the Rave Diet, google Mike Anderson and get the Eating video off the internet for a few bucks, get the info, go vegan yourself and in no time, that good - energy surrounding you will influence the in-laws/ parents. Go Vegan is the easiest way to do it. it's like riping off a band aid you KNOW you no longer need. Just leave it on cuz it's a habit, all that junk that's destroying our planet, as well as our health? watch, start a vegan pot luck. Just do one positive thing, and know that you'll do another. Make your family one meal out of the Vegan Lunch box for dinner each week. Just do one thing. and pray. This world needs everybody to eat sustainable like we need oxygen to breath. It's really urgent now! Just Do It! :)

Sparklesmucho said...

The Truth = Pure inspiration

Ann Cooper is amazing! Thank you for posting this!