Berkeley high school Dumps organic lunches

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The Berkeley High School that decided to give organic lunches a shot are dropping the program, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The lunches weren’t very successful, with many students opting to go off-campus or for cheaper fast food for lunch. From the sounds of it, it wasn’t due to the quality of the food, but more because of poor marketing (many students didn’t even know about the organic food court) and certain logistic issues for the food providers.

The district’s superintendent is pushing for another shot at organic lunches, this time done properly. “I think this is a setback,” she said, “but we aren’t dissuaded from the goal of getting our students in the habit of eating healthier food.”

Student allowed back into class

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The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Jennifer Watson, the 16-year-old that was forced out of her anatomy class because she wouldn’t dissect a cat, has been allowed back in. The school bought her a CD-ROM to allow her to use the computer to do a virtual dissection.

One parent is quoted as saying that students should “take a different class” if they object to dissection. “This is not just you go out and kill a cat. There is learning.” Um… pardon?

Student forced out of anatomy class

Girl, 16, forced out of anatomy class

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that a high school student was forced out of her honors anatomy and physiology class at Kenwood High School after refusing on ethical grounds to dissect a cat. The girl’s mother offered to buy a copy of software (like this one) as an alternative, but the teacher refused and threatened to fail the student if she didn’t participate. The teacher claimed it was “integral” to the course, despite the fact that medical schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the University of Maryland don’t do dissection.

I didn’t think that teachers, particularly high school teachers, could force students to dissect actual specimens when acceptible alternatives are available. Apparently, they can.

(via OS)

Organic news roundup

There have been a number of articles worth noting about organic farming recently:

In Toxic to the Tongue, the Village Voice‘s Lenora Todaro takes a look at Fatal Harvest, a tome quite omptimistic about organic farming’s future and quite pessimistic about modern industrial farming’s effects on our current food supply.

Frankenfoods Get Funkier takes another look GM foods. “Opposition to GM crops is first and foremost a political stance against the industrialization of our food supply and the takeover of agriculture by big business.”

Perhaps the most surprising is the positive look at organic farming in this week’s issue of Newsweek. The author’s consensus is pretty much in line with my own on the matter: organic food tastes better, is better for the environment, but may or may not be more nutritious/safe for you. One fact that blew my mind: pesticides kill 67 million American birds each year. Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa says, “Conventional agriculture still delivers cheap, abundant food, but when you factor in the government subsidies and the environmental costs, it gets very expensive. We’re drawing down our ecological capital. At some point, the systems will start to break down.”

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra… no kidding

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It’s a rare occurrence that I find an item that can be featured on both the Veg Blog and one of my music review sites at the same time… I present: the first vienna vegetable orchestra.

Yes, you read that right: an orchestra playing instruments made of vegetables (and occasionally kitchen utensils). After the instruments are used, they are then made into soup. I’m not kidding.

But, hey—if people make drums out of animal skins, why not make instruments out of vegetables, right? A very cool concept with a very strange sound.