Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Childrens Health by Amy Kalafa

“Our kids might be the first generation in history on track to lead shorter lives than their parents.” Michelle Obama, as quoted by Amy Kalafa.

That is a sobering thought, yes? This book is full of such tidbits. Here’s a few more:

  • Our country uses 15 trillion pounds a year of over 80,000 industrial chemicals, tested on by the manufacturers. Pesticides account for 4.4 billion pounds of those chemicals annually.
  • The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables has risen 40% in the past 20 years. The cost of soda, sweets, meat, dairy, fats and oils has decreased by as much as 20% at the same time.
  • Only 2% of school-age children eat the USDA’s serving recommendations for all 5 major food groups. Half of America’s school-children eat less than one serving of fruit a day.

That is just a tiny sampling of the sobering facts catalogued in the opening chapter of Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health. And once you get by the very informative, if slightly overwhelming in it’s data-dump-titude, opening, what follows is an informative manifesto on how to go about getting your schools’ food program in shape. All the tools you need; letters, press releases, surveys, and more are at your disposal. However, if you’re not the type to go stormin’ the castle, takin’ on the whole school system, there is a lot of information on how to start a food revolution in your own home. Even saving your own child goes a long way toward saving a few more. My own daughter, who eats like an angel with very little influence, has helped her own friends make better food choices. Every little bit helps!

“A rising tides lifts all boats.” John F. Kennedy, as quoted by Amy Kalafa.

If this book doesn’t leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and ready for action, I don’t know what will.

A French study found that sugar was a more powerful choice than cocaine, even for a rat population addicted to cocaine.

The sad fact is that, despite being one of the major super powers of the world, our children do not eat as well as most of the modern world. We eat too much refined sugar, processed foods, fruits and vegetables laden with chemicals, meat saturated with steroids, antibiotics, and other such nasty things and it is doing terrible things to our bodies. We all need to eat “farm-fresh, chemical-free, whole, unprocessed food” that is not only good for us, but “healthier for the planet, and probably better for lots of other people as well.” And the way to learn is to teach ’em young. We have to start with the children.

Penguin was kind enough to sponsor this review and a lot more through BlogHer. Join the conversation; it is sure to be a doozy. Also check out Amy Kalafa’s website, Two Angry Moms, which is also the title of a documentary she made on the same subject. I can’t wait to watch it.

I was compensated for this review, but let me tell ya, it doesn’t color my review at all. This topic is too near and dear to my heart.

Teaser Tuesdays – Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out all about it, and how to join in!

This past week I’ve been reading Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Childrens Health by Amy Kalafa which is equal parts horrifying and empowering. But more on that Thursday. For now, here is a teaser:

Americans spend $200 billion per year in diet-related health care costs; twice as much per person than any other developed nation. The estimated annual cost of obesity is $123 billion-half of which is paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.

and one more, for good measure. The most upsetting line in the whole book, for me:

Our kids might be the first generation in history on track to lead shorter lives than their parents.

I have so many more I could share! And will! Thursday!

Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Christopher Lee

If you’re anything like me, I bet you read “Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Christopher Lee” and though, ah, that’s brilliant! Because that’s what I did! I saw the above on Audible for a lovely low price, knew RIP was coming up, and snatched it right up.

Without noticing that it was abridged.

Yes. Abridged. That scourge of classic readers the world over and a particular pain in my neck.

I finally read Dracula for the first time during last years’ RIP challenge (my review) and I fell head over heals in love with. I knew I would want to reread it during this years’ RIP challenge and audio has become my method of choice when it comes to rereading. And Christopher Lee did exactly what I was expecting of him. His lovely deep macabre voice brought life to Dracula (ha!) (I mean the book.) exactly the way I thought he would. I was actually surprised by how well he read the feminine characters. He did a fantastic job.

The problem here is the abridgment. Gone is all that lovely tension leading up to the ending. The thrill, as they say, is gone. I felt like almost all of Mina Harker’s sections were gone. That taunt chase across the continent, to beat Dracula to his lair felt like it took mere minutes. One of my favorite sections is that race to catch Dracula, all because of Stoker’s mastery of suspense! His mastery with words! Gone! Bye bye, see ya later, arrivederci! *sigh*

So. What I’m saying is: read the book if you have never read Dracula because it is a truly amazing piece of horror fiction. Or find an unabridged recording if you really want to listen to it. If you know the story well, and just want a brief revisit, this is worth your time for Christopher Lee’s performance. Just don’t go expecting anything much. The thrill, as they say, is gone. *poof*

Brought to you by:




Jen at Devourer of Books has started a new meme where she collects audiobook reviews every Friday for her Sound Bytes feature. Stop by and read her review, then click over to see what others have posted. You can link up your own audiobook reviews from the week!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.

So. How great was last week? Pretty awesome, right? It was so great meeting new bloggers, and old, again, and celebrating all the hard work and love we put into our little homes on the internets. BBAW was amazing and congratulations to all the winners! I can’t wait to see what the team comes up with next year!

On the reading front, I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Holy cow guacamole you guys. What. A. Book. I hope to get my thoughts together and post on it later this week, but for now, I leave you with this oft-spoken phrase around here, but always well meant: “Best Book of the Year.” And this time, I add a “Hands Down.” To reiterate: Best Book of the Year – Hands Down. This baby is going on my top ten of all time.

As I was certain would happen, I plunged into a complete reading slump upon finishing The Night Circus. My mind is still in those delicious circus tents, inside the mystery. So I comforted myself by taking up a crochet hook and started a new scarf for myself, and watching some Doctor Who. Have I mentioned just how much I adore the new Doctor? I adore the new Doctor. And I’m starting to adore my new granny stripe scarf, even though it’s only half complete. Surprisingly, I’m not too worried about a slump. Are you surprised too? Don’t be, I picked up Daphne: A Novel by Justine Picardie last night, just to feel it up and next thing I knew, I’d read 50 pages. The book is a novelization of Daphne du Maurier’s life during the years she wrote her biography of Branwell Bronte. At only 50 pages in, I can’t begin to describe what it is about, so, from B&N:

A haunting novel that illuminates the true story of Daphne du Maurier’s fascination with the Brontës: a tale of madness, theft, romance, and literary archaeology.

Drawing on Justine Picardie’s own extensive research into Daphne du Maurier’s obsession with the Brontës and the scandal that has haunted the Brontë estate,Daphne is a marvelous story of literary fascination and possession; of stolen manuscripts and forged signatures; of love lost and love found; of the way into imaginary worlds, and the way out again.

Written in three entwined parts, the novel follows Daphne du Maurier herself, the beautiful, tomboyish, passionate author of the enormously popular Gothic novel Rebecca, at fifty and on the verge of madness; John Alexander Symington, eminent editor and curator of the Brontës’ manuscripts, who by 1957 had been dismissed from the Brontë Parsonage Museum in disgrace, and who became Daphne’s correspondent; and a nameless modern researcher on the trail of Daphne, Rebecca, Alexander Symington, and the Brontës. Haunting and gorgeously written, Daphne is a breathtaking novel that finally tells, in the most imaginative of ways, what Brontë biographer Juliet Barker has called “the last great untold Brontë story—and perhaps the most intriguing.”

Sounds great, no? I can’t wait to delve deeper into the mysteries.

On the audio front, I am almost finished with Wildwood by Colin Meloy, read by Amanda Plummer. Next, I plan to start All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. I’ve loved Zevin since her first book Margarettown, so I can’t wait to get into this YA dystopia, read by Ilyana Kadushin.

How was your reading week? Any keepers? Do tell all.

I Egnéus

The Night Circus – Winners!

To celebrate BBAW, I was giving away 1 ARC copy of The Night Circus. I have since finished The Night Circus,  LOVED IT,  and have decided I have to have my own beautiful hardback copy.

The Night Circus

So now I’m giving away 2 copies of The Night Circus. One foreign, one at home. So my two winners are:

Kristen at 



Congratulations ladies!! I’ll be getting the books in the mail soon!

BBAW Day 5 – The Tried and the True and the Future

Here we are. The last day of BBAW. It always goes so FAST, doesn’t it? Here is today’s topic:

The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

Three things that are essential to me?

1 – Templates. I don’t know how I blogged before templates. They make life so much easier!

2 – Twitter. Can I get an amen? All things come from Twitter.

3 – Tumblr! For my sanity. Since I try to keep this blog as book related as possible, Tumblr has become my go-to site to post whatever the heck I want to talk about. And I love it!

Hey, it’s the three T’s of blogging!

Three new trends of tools?

1 – Does Pinterest count? Because dude. I am obsessed.

2 – Time. Is that new? I need it! Desperately!

3 – Honestly, I have no idea. I’m so out of the loop these days (thanks work!), I’m usually the last to know when the cool new things come out. I’m just thankful I discovered Reeder and Evernote on my own!

How about you? What blogging tools are indispensable for you? No, seriously, I really really want to know!

BBAW Day 4 – The Books

Day 4 of BBAW brings us one of those important questions.

Book bloggers blog because we love reading. Has book blogging changed the way you read? Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging? How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits? Have you made new connections with other readers because of book blogging? Choose any one of these topics and share your thoughts today!

In the 6.5 years of blogging I have done, blogging has radically changed my reading. For. the. better. Not too long ago, I realized I had been tracking my reading for 10 years. I started in 2001. So I started putting together a spreadsheet of each years books and what I had rated them. And something became startlingly apparent; I was reading better books. In 2001, I read aLOTof stinkers. I read 74 books in 2001 and only really liked 19 of them. That was the year I discovered Joanne Harris, so 3 of those are her books. And Slammerkin. Oh Slammerkin….

Anyway. So far this year, I’ve also read 74 books and honestly? I can’t think of one I have an active dislike for. Except maybe 1…. Same for last year. Last year was the year I discovered the magic of Terry Pratchett and yes, that was thanks to a book blogger (thank you Debi!!). I started blogging in 2005 and not only has my quantity steadily increased (in 2003, I read 31 books. Granted, that was the year my daughter was born. I was slightly distracted) the quality has markedly increased. If anyone says book bloggers don’t have influence, well, they are quite ignorant. Just this year, I’ve read (thanks to a book blogger review or recommendation):

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (Ana, who loves Elizabeth Hand)
The Bone series by Jeff Smith (Debi, with heavy influencing by BethFishReads)
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffeneggar (several, but the one that stands out is Jenn)
All the Terry Pratchett books I’ve read/listened to (Debi)
Tender Morsels (Kelly, Ana, and Chris)
The Coffins of Little Hope by Tim Schaffert (don’t remember who)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (I think Ana, but I’m not sure)
Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World by Signe Pike (Neil Gaiman. No, really. He blogged about it, I think it should count.)
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry (I think I was Swapna)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (several people recommended this one to me; Marg, Carl, Kelly….) (and thank you again) (geez, I adore this book)
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (like I needed much pushing; Ana, Chris, etc)
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (long time ago, can’t remember)
Tomorrow When the War Began (Galleysmith and BethFishReads)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (I believe My Friend Amy is the one who posted the book trailer to her Tumblr)
Yes, My Darling Daughter by Margaret Leroy (I believe this was Swapna too, it was a year or two ago)
Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Galleysmith)
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Ana and Chris)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Debi)
The Stuff of Legend Vol. 1 (Chris, via Debi)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (many, but mainly Carl)
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (many)
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (for NerdsHeartYA)
What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson (for NerdsHeartYA) (AND the winner!!!)

I’m not going to just outright say that book blogging makes you read better, but, uh, it sure does help!

BBAW Day 3 – Doing it Community Style

Today’s topic is Community and how we do it:

The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

Gosh, it has gotten hard for me to stay connected! At one time, I was able to get on Twitter occasionally at work, but now it’s blocked. That really hurt my community access! Now I only know if something is going on if they tweet with my name in it, I get it in an email. And thanks to Tweet mail, I can email a tweet in. Thankfully, I’ve made what I think will be lifelong friends in this community and I can email them.

Oh, and now, since work refuses to update MSIE past version SIX (YES! SIX!) I can’t get on Google Reader any more. Thankfully, I found Blog Lovin.

Then there is the whole promotion at work eating up what little free time I had at work. Now I’m lucky if I can look at a few blogs during lunch and break! Whoa, this is turning into a whine-fest!

So how about something good? About a month ago, I discovered a feed reader in the App store for my Mac. It cost $10, but it had some stellar reviews. I was feeling a little courageous, so I bought it. And I haven’t. looked. back. I hate you Google Reader! Reeder is amazing. It has really helped me stay in tune with my favorite blogs. I can save posts to Evernote, in different categories. It’s gorgeous. I love it. Blog reading has NEVER been better. I’m not even sure how I lived before Reeder and Evernote. The best part? I update Reeder. I can take all the time I want reading the posts that I’ve downloaded, and it can take days. Once I finish, I click the update button and bam! There are all the new posts from the last few days. No more 1000+ posts waiting for me and y’all. Seriously. It is the best thing ever. That 1000+ can stress me out and I hate hitting mark all read! I always feeling like I’m missing something! Now, I don’t.

Screenshot of Reeder

Without these tools, I would be so lost, and gosh y’all, I love the book blogging community so much. I doubt any other blogging community is as close, accepting, and amazing as ours. I’ve been here for 6.5 years and I don’t foresee going anywhere. I wouldn’t know what to do without y’all!

How do you get your network on? Any work friendly tips for a poor girl?