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Across The Lake

It will sound unfair, but Jo Lange is to blame. Well, not really to blame but maybe as a symbol of things gone wrong. If you don't know her personally, Jo is the food service manager for the Blackduck Schools. It's her responsibility to see that kids get a good breakfast and a decent lunch and they do. It's her responsibility, too, to keep them from getting fat, obese and also to see that they are fed even if they can't afford it. Free and reduced prices are a big part of her job description.

Jo Lange and Eric Mar have never met, as far as I know, but what he's trying to do could affect the way she does her job. If he's successful, it will have a ripple effect. on people like Jo Lange everywhere schools serve meals. Eric Mar is a San Francisco member of the board of supervisors. He is the author of the Happy Meal ordinance that would outlaw the sale of those meals for kids, meals which happen to include a toy in an effort to get kids to eat and which, by extension, someday could reach even school lunchrooms everywhere if he has his way.

How has this governmental parenting happened? When did we let Washington bureaucrats in the door? Maybe it started when we let them count the calories in a diet soda and maybe with the whole school lunch program. Whenever, I still have to be convinced that having someone under the Capitol Dome in Washington or at the state capitol in St. Paul will ever be as a good a parent as a child's own mother and father. My skepticism is doubled when I see that this idea is originating in San Francisco, a city that wants to outlaw Happy Meals but legalize pot.

All this writing about food started when I saw that the grocery store here is now carrying the Cloverdale brand of St. Louis style pork ribs. I'm partial to Cloverdale because years ago they had me doing their TV commercials and I got used to the way they did their meat products. I'm also partial to ribs, as Jim Ness at Hillcrest will attest.

The late D. B. Gurney and I often debated the quality of those served at various eating places in the states where we traveled. Jones's on Lake of the Ozarks and the Southernaire in Springfield, Illinois were two of the greatest, but we agreed that the Apple Creek Country Club in Bismarck was consistently our favorite. All three places did their ribs St. Louis style, which I can't describe except to say that's how we liked them.

And salmon nuggets from Morey's are now available without having to drive all the way to Motley to get them. That prompted me to ask Charlie what else Family Foods has added to their shelves and he offered a quick list. "Beer's BBQ sauce," he started off. "It's really good and it's made locally." Then he mentioned Bar Bell Bee Ranch honey -- something else that's made locally, as is the locally produced wild rice. "These local products don't get all that much advertising," he said "but people who try them pass the word." So does Charlie.

When he noticed the packages of cheese in our cart, he couldn't resist adding a pitch for the deli. Seven varieties of gourmet cheeses in the selection there, he said. Only problem I noted is, you've gotta get by those fresh baked goodies to get there. Or hustle through the produce section with its dozen varieties of apples on your way back to the meat counter. I'll only say it once, but they've got lutefisk.

Back for a minute to Jo Lange. I hope the kids appreciate her work the same way it's appreciated by the school board and the school administrators. She was 'picked on' because she's at the end of the line when it comes to federal, state and local regulations. Her success on the job has to be due in part because she can interpret and follow all the dietary rules and the sanitary regulations and the rest of the dictates, decrees and directions that govern what she does.

It has to be confusing at times, with surplus commodities being dumped on schools in order to keep the price of those same commodities up so producers can afford to raise the crops and livestock that wind up as surplus, in order to allow some legislators to argue for elimination of the program to help balance the budget which is out of whack because those same congressmen can divert tax dollars for their own salaries and benefit programs instead of just taking Social Security like they insist on for everyone else.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Covering the Blackduck School Board meetings is part of my own job description, but if Northome and Kelliher were to be included, there's no doubt I'd find they have a Jo Lange of their own.