Why Does Lou Dobbs Hate Vegetables?

OK, that is a sensationalist headline. I’m sure Lou Dobbs, the controversial CNN commentator who doesn’t much care for illegal immigrants doesn’t actually hate vegetables.

A more accurate headline would be, “Why Does Lou Dobbs See a Conspiracy In The Lunch Trays of The Baltimore City School System?”

But it just isn’t as catchy, so I’ll stick with the original.

What the heck am I talking about here, I am sure some of you are wondering.

It’s like this: The Baltimore City School System has instituted a Meatless Mondays policy and, even though CNN could not find any parents in Baltimore who were against having their kids eat more vegetables and fruits during school, the whole thing is obviously a conspiracy to turn kids into socialist vegan heathens or something.

Never mind that the whole idea came about as a way to promote healthier eating habits among children. Never mind that having kids eat more vegetables might do something to curb the epidemic of childhood obesity that is supposedly running rampant in our country. Oh, and don’t notice that vegetarian chili and grilled cheese sandwiches are cheaper than even the crap-quality meat that is scraped off of the meatpacking companies floors and is sold to school systems. Yeah, and never mind that our country is deep in a recession and nearly every school system in the US is strapped for cash.

Dobbs ignores all of these inconvenient facts and decides that the school system is pushing a political agenda just because PETA gave them one of their Proggy Awards for being the most progressive school system in the country because of their Meatless Monday policy.

I don’t know if you know this, Mr. Dobbs, but blaming the recipient of an award for having a political agenda just because the organization giving the award does have an agenda, is pretty twisted and screwed up logic. Yes, PETA has an a very definite agenda, but just because they recognize the Baltimore school system for being progressive does not mean that the aforementioned school system has the same agenda.

Watch the clip and then tell me the reporting isn’t slanted and bizarre:

I love the little banner on the bottom that reads, “The Food Police?” while the Baltimore school officials are on the screen. That is so–slanted.

And who does CNN get to talk about how it is a bad idea for any school system to do this?

A spokesperson for the American Meat Institute, a trade organization of meat packers and processors. Is this an unbiased source? Um, no. And did you notice that the reporter also was careful to point out that the spokesperson was also is a mother of two children? Why is this mentioned? Does CNN regularly tell us how many kids every spokesperson they have on their shows is blessed with? No.

No, they mentioned that mother of two children bit so as to make the viewer think that this woman is speaking more as a concerned mother than as a paid shill for the meat packing industry, an industry, which, by the way, keeps selling meat tainted with E. coli to the public, including to schools. You know, the very same industry that lobbies against tighter food safety regulations and more mandated health inspections.

You know, those trustworthy creeps.

And what does this paragon of unbiased information have to tell us? What does she say?

She points out at the end of her statement that 75 percent of American schoolchildren are deficient in protein, and for many of them the only protein they eat is what is in their school lunches.

Um, yeah.

Has no one ever pointed out to this highly credible and well-paid spokesperson and concerned mother of two that beans, grains, nuts, and dairy products such as cheese and milk all contain protein? So, the truth is that the kids we see in this news segment who are eating the vegetarian chili with rice or the grilled cheese sandwiches are not being deprived of protein as the American Meat Institute would have you believe. They are actually eating plenty of protein.

It just happens to come from somewhere other than meat.

And then, Dobbs goes on to talk about how the Meatless Monday policy is a “political storm in the making” and insinuates that it is meant to indoctrinate kids into the shadowy world of progressive socialist vegetable-eating, tree-hugging evil-doers.

Look, Mr. Dobbs, it is like this.

Kids should eat more vegetables. You know this, and I know this. The mom interviewed in your news story whose kids actually go to school in Baltimore knows this, and frankly, the American Meat Institute mother of two knows it, too.

And I think, sir, that you know this isn’t some ploy to turn all of the children in America into vegetarians, one school lunch at a time.

But you have to get het up about something and get your viewers upset so they will keep watching you.

But really, the truth is, there are people of all political stripes all over the world who eat very little meat, or who are cutting down on meat, or who eat no meat at all.

And there are plenty of socialists who eat meat. Go to France if you don’t believe me and watch them chow down on some cassoulet, boeuf bourguignon, and foie gras, goodness sake.

And for that matter, plenty of us progressives eat meat, too–just not meat from confined animal feeding operations like the ones that the American Meat Institute favors.

Eating more vegetables is not going to hurt the kids, Lou. It isn’t a vast left-wing conspiracy that is out to turn the nation’s children into elitist arugula-loving activists.

It is really just what the principal and the nutritional director from the Baltimore school system say it is–a way to help kids eat healthier while saving the schools some cash.

Stop hating on the veggies, man and chill out.

Because, dude, just because some kids in Baltimore are eating no meat for lunch one day a week doesn’t mean that PETA is coming to pry your Big Mac out of your cold, dead hands.


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  1. Yeah, this is the reason I haven’t watched network TV News or News/Commentary in over a decade – it’s full of loons who like publicity and ranting more than actual sense.

    Really – isn’t he a guy who yells for a living? I haven’t seen him so I don’t know him in particular. But our outrage-filled “news” these days seems to demand new things all the time to be outraged by, otherwise, they’d be out of jobs the lot of them – on all sides of the political spectrum.

    And when did we start taking nutritional advice from news commentators, anyhow? Or caring what they think? It’s not like they know anything about this stuff.

    Comment by Diane — October 21, 2009 #

  2. and PS – sorry for the grumpier-than-usual comment. That kind of sensationalist TV news stuff brings out the worst in me, which is why I stopped watching it.

    I support your very well-written post BTW if you couldn’t already tell!

    Comment by Diane — October 21, 2009 #

  3. Filet mignon? Coq au vin? Sounds like elitist socialist food to me!

    Comment by Elizabeth — October 21, 2009 #

  4. Good for you – a brilliant post!

    Comment by Meg — October 21, 2009 #

  5. I come from a hard core meat eating family, (we even have it for breakfast!)in hyderabad, India. We’ve instituted meat three times a week because quite frankly, I’d like to take advantage of tremendous amount of vegetables and greens out there along with pulses and expand my cooking and eating horizons. Thank you for this post. This sensationalist news is the reason why I got cable cut (its much much worse in India because of so many rival news channels) and I’m pretty happy with just the internets 🙂

    Comment by huda — October 21, 2009 #

  6. Won’t somebody please think of the children? How will they get their RDI of mystery meat (2-3 servings) if the government won’t provide it?

    Sounds like someone’s really grasping at anything to try to whip up a controversy. I take that as a good sign.

    Comment by Maria P. — October 21, 2009 #

  7. I didn’t know you could get e-coli from meat. I recently spent 13 days in acute care in the hospital suffering from an e-coli infection in my blood. I really thought I would die. I never even suspected meat could have been the cause! Veggies maybe but meat, never! They never did find out what caused it.

    Comment by Grace — October 21, 2009 #

  8. I watched this piece and you did a fabulous job articulating everything that was wrong with what they said. Wish they would bother to read what you had to say! very well done!

    Comment by biscuit — October 21, 2009 #

  9. Ooh, let me play!

    It’s a conspiracy, I tell you! Didn’t you know that vegetarianism makes you gay? I think some person said that some time, so IT MUST BE TRUE! And Hitler was a vegetarian, so that just proves it then doesn’t it? In order to grow up to be good upright patriotic Christian citizens they MUST eat breaded mystery meat patties smothered in cream gravy for lunch! To do otherwise would be treason! Treason I tell you!

    (But seriously though, I’d expect this sort of thing from Fox News, but CNN? Bad CNN! No biscuit!)

    Comment by Neohippie — October 21, 2009 #

  10. Grace…. I hope you’re joking? If not, I have to say: What planet are you living on? You can pick-up e-coli from all sorts of things, but many outbreaks start with tainted meat. The most recent outbreak in my city was January, at The National Western Stock Show. About 20 kids picked it up in the dairy barns. Although what parent allows his/her child to trail through a livestock barn touching everything in site and then allowing that child to eat before washing hands is beyond me…but that’s another topic!

    I’m not surprised at this backlash on meatless mondays, although it pisses me off to no end. Recently, there’s been a lot of back lash from the meat industry on practices such as this and on sustainable agriculture. Michael Polin was supposed to speak at Cal-Poly last week, and that kicked up a whole dust storm from one of Cal-Poly’s largest donors, Harris Ranch. Polin’s invitation was revoked right before he was scheduled to speak. You know what that means? It means that people are sitting up and listening, beginning to eat less meat and really questioning what it is they are eating, and the meat industry is seeing a big threat to their profits. I hope it continues!

    Comment by Roxanne — October 21, 2009 #

  11. Where did she get that 75% of American school children are protein deficient statistic? If that number is even close to the truth, I’ll eat my hat.

    Comment by sgt pepper — October 21, 2009 #

  12. Brilliant post as usual, Barbara. I think everyone, children and adults alike, could stand to eat more vegetables.

    Comment by Nancy — October 21, 2009 #

  13. ….digging out her vegetarian lasagna recipe…. I think I will make this for the potluck at work this week. Do you think PETA will send me an award?

    Seriously, these snake-oil commentators need to get a life. Did their mothers never make them grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch or supper? Those sandwiches are basic food coming in right behind peanut butter and jelly.

    Comment by Maureen — October 21, 2009 #

  14. Snap. On the topic of fresh fruit & veg, I’ve just posted a video from a school where kids promoting healthy eating are being punished for breaking school rules and another bunch promoting the eating of crisps are being praised for adhering to the school rules. Tell me the world hasn’t gone stark raving bonkers.

    Comment by Trig — October 22, 2009 #

  15. Excellent post. I get so irritated at these extremist talking heads. Occasionally, when I am on the road, I listen to these folks (until I can’t stand it anymore) to hear what they are saying. What are some of the jewels??? I believe it was Rush Limbaugh who implied that our kids should not go to college because all colleges have a liberal agenda and they will ruin our kids. On another program he implied that the people who exercise are the ones running up help costs because of exercise related injuries (so, exercise is bad). They will say anything to get peoples attention in order to make $$$.

    I worked at a vegetarian campus for 16 years and we experiment with it at home. (My husband is vegetarian now most of the time.) We still eat meat but not as much as we used to. I believe that our vegetarian egg roll recipe is BETTER then our meat based one because it forced us to experiment with foods, tastes, & textures to get an interesting egg roll. What have I learned??? There are some mighty yummy and nutricious vegetarian dishes out there!!

    Comment by JoAnn — October 23, 2009 #

  16. Barbara, I agree with everything you wrote, but I think this comment deserves attention:

    “Yes, PETA has an a very definite agenda”

    Isn’t that kind of like writing, “Yes, NAMBLA has a very definite agenda”? In other words, a very neutral assessment of their agenda?

    PeTA specifically targets children without parental consent and advocates for the death of humans, and thus I don’t think it’s appropriate to regard PeTA’s endorsement of anything as neutral. PeTA is an evil cult, and their endorsement should rightly be treated with revulsion.

    Comment by Jimmy — October 25, 2009 #

  17. Jimmy–I didn’t want to get sidetracked by ranting about what I think of PETA, so I just stated that they -do- have a definite agenda. I didn’t feel it necessary to belabor the point of what their agenda is–because I didn’t see it as being pertinent to the story at hand.

    Now, if Lou Dobbs had gone on about the evils of PETA in his report, god help me, I might have had to agree with him, and it would have caused me pain.

    But, instead, PETA was mentioned in passing…so I just went with my main point which was–just ‘cuz kids are eating vegetarian in school one day a week does not mean that the world as we know it is going to end.

    Comment by Barbara — October 27, 2009 #

  18. In response to Sgt. Pepper –

    I’m not sure on the real statistics, but I think 75% sounds about accurate. When I was in high school, most of the ‘school lunches’ consisted of french fries, pizza, and packaged food like potato and corn chips. A diet like that is VERY deficient not just of protein, but of almost everything but carbohydrates and fat.

    Even the so called ‘home cooking’ options was usually a mystery meat burger, chicken nuggets, or some other form of processed meat by-product, extruded, ground, colored and flavored to look and taste (sort of) like meat. If we had been given a meatless Monday back then, I doubt any of the kids would have even noticed, let alone made a fuss about it. It always seems to be ‘concerned’ parents that have to push their own agenda on everything, instead of thinking about how much harm they are doing versus a minor policy change.

    Comment by Blue — January 7, 2010 #

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