chocolate milkIt's a battle that's been raging in various parts of the country for some time now -- should schools serve chocolate milk? Currently embroiled in the dairy debate is The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District that will vote this week as to whether flavored milks will be served in their cafeterias. I don't really see much to debate as the answer should be a clear and decisive no.

I understand all the arguments in favor of serving the flavored stuff -- that kids won't get enough calcium without it -- but literally sugarcoating it isn't the way to get them to do so or, more importantly, to teach them lifelong healthy eating habits. It's just as bad as dousing vegetables with butter or putting fruit in ice cream to get them to eat it ... and it's another example of adults pandering to spoiled children instead of standing up to them and making them do the right thing.

Plus, there are plenty of other ways to get calcium from vegetables to yogurt and cheese. Kids don't need milk to be healthy; they need a well-balanced diet that's not saturated with sugar. And yes, I've seen some of the studies that say chocolate milk is good for the heart, but so is wine. You're not going to serve kids some Merlot at mealtime now are you? 

Last year in the California school district, 76 percent of the milk served was chocolate flavored, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of course it was, because it was offered.

I don't blame chocolate milk alone for our nation's obesity problem, but I do think our mentality to try and coax children to eat healthy foods by covering them up instead of teaching them to appreciate and enjoy good, simple whole foods is definitely contributing to the problem. Pandering to picky eaters just exacerbates the problems.

While they're at it, I wish they'd ban all juices in schools too. There's no need for them, and if white milk and water were kids' only choices, then guess what they'd drink? Those are the only choices in my house, and the only things my kids ever drink unless they're at a party or some special occasion. School, however, isn't a special occasion, and there's no place for chocolate milk there.

Do you think chocolate milk should be served in schools?


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