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Surviving lunch
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What happens when you let two school kids loose in a room full of processed, pre-packaged lunch foods and ask them to choose? Will they overcome the Handi-snack hazards? (What's in a Mickey Mouse Fruity Peel-Out* anyway?)

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BY CECILY ROSS AND LUCY WAVERMAN
Saturday, September 1, 2001

Faryn's pan: Vachon strawberry Jelly Log
Photo: Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

Imagine you are 10 years old and you get to have anything - anything - you want in your school lunch. What would you choose? Nachos, raisins and a pudding snack? Fruit rollups, potato chips and a vanilla milkshake? Hmmm. This was the task facing two Toronto school girls last week when The Globe and Mail asked them to assemble their own school lunches from the vast array of ready-to-eat products on the market.

The challenge: to put together a meal that is tasty, convenient, as nutritious as possible, but also fun to eat.

The students: Islay Thompson, 12, going into Grade 7 at Deer Park Public School, as she picks through the pile of nutrabars, Lunchables and juice boxes: "I like to eat pretty much only homemade stuff," she says. "Look at how many red things there are. I think it's because red really catches your eye."

Her sister, Faryn Thompson, 10, going into Grade 5 at Huron Public School: "Usually we have food that isn't pre-packaged. But some people at my school bring pure junk - chips, gatorade and a sandwich they don't eat."

Both Islay and Faryn say they prefer homemade food to the packages of sweet and salty goods laid out on the counter. Their parents pack them a substantial lunch of juice, fruit, a sandwich, cookies and a thermos of soup or leftover pasta. They say that they don't usually trade with the other kids. You have to have the right stuff for that, says Faryn. "If you have fruit rollups you can trade, but a piece of broccoli for some bubblegum?" she grimaces, "Nooo."

Nevertheless, their eyes widen as they survey the smorgasbord of snacks before them.

Next Page: The lunches


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