Mary and I were eating some tater tots recently, and they reminded both of us of growing up and eating them at our school cafeteria. I would wager that upwards of 90% of my lifetime intake of tater tots happened at lunch during elementary school. Since we grew up in different parts of the country, we compared the sorts of food that we used to eat at the cafeteria and we realized for the first time that school lunches might not actually have been that healthy. When I think of school lunch growing up, I think of tater tots, syrupy canned pears or peaches, chocolate milk, corn dogs, Rib-B-Q (whatever THAT was), and square (or sometimes, hexagonal) pizza. I once got a barbecue pork sandwich that contained a little slice of pigskin. But that wasn’t the worst part: there were some little stubbly hairs in it! I learned many things that day: first, that pork came from pigs. Second, that pigs are apparently mammals. And third, barbecue pork sandwiches are disgusting (I later qualified this to: “poor quality barbecue pork sandwiches are disgusting”).
I remember that there was a salad bar in my school cafetorium (it was called a cafetorium because while it was a cafeteria during the day, it transformed into an auditorium for school plays and PTA meetings), but I also remember that almost no one ever visited it. I might have once or twice. But the main memory that I have of the salad bar is crouching near it and covering my head for several minutes during a tornado warning. It’s a good thing that a tornado actually didn’t come close to the school; I would have ended up unconscious with cottage cheese all over me.
Is it just that I remember those things that were really bad for me, or was it all like that? I may never know. The only person I still keep in contact with from elementary school days is my brother. Maybe he can shed light on this subject. . .