I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Have a Reformy Thanksgiving!

We have a national Thanksgiving crisis.

International comparisons clearly show our turkeys are drier, our mashed potatoes are waterier, and our pumpkins pies have less pumpkin per slice than every other developed country in the world (save Finland). A recent Gates Foundation project, the MET (Measures of Effective Thanksgiving) showed that surveys of students taken at "kids tables" around the country rate Thanksgiving dinners anywhere from "sucks" to "totally sucks" to "can I leave the table now?"

Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice recently released a report demonstrating that bad Thanksgiving cooking is a threat to our national security. The primary reason is that our Thanksgiving cooks are not focusing on the Common Core of the meal: turkey, gravy, and stuffing. Instead, cooks waste time fussing over green bean casserole. Yes, I agree that green bean casserole is important, but I ask you: will our children ever leave the table college- or career-ready simply on a diet of side dishes?

Those who accept the status quo of Thanksgiving cooking seem to believe that allowing Grandma to make the meal, simply because of her "seniority," is a recipe for disaster. (Ha! "Recipe"! Get it?) We need to remove these entitled, burned-out cooks - who are often in the most difficult cooking jobs - and replace them with our best and our brightest. Fortunately, TFA - Thanksgiving For America - has stepped in to train young people in 5 hours how to prepare a delicious feast (thank you, Stove Top Stuffing and Hormel's Spam for your generous support).

It's also become clear that our children do not have enough "choice" in their Thanksgiving fare. Until recently, Grandma's monopoly on Thanksgiving prevented children from going to McDonald's, where the meals are carefully tailored to match each child's "eating style." Luckily, thanks to a new series of initiatives passed around the country, enterprising older cousins can demand vouchers of up to 90% of the cost for each child's meal and drive the tykes to the nearest Taco Bell (pocketing the cost differential for themselves).

While these programs are important, we must all acknowledge that the real problem is the way we evaluate our Thanksgiving cooks. For far too long, we've been content to tell our mothers and grandmothers and aunts, "Everything was delicious!" when, in fact, we know that it was not. Inadequate mealtime evaluation rewards the laziest cooks and punishes the best. Frankly, it's time to put the eaters first.

Within the next few years, thanks to the FDA's successful Race To The Thanksgiving program, all cooks will receive a VAM rating. The Value-Added Munchies score looks at both a pre-test (appetizers) and post-test (leftovers) to determine the amount of "value" a cook adds to her Thanksgiving meal. Here's an example:

Now, some will say, "This doesn't tell us anything that really matters about the meal!" But we all have to admit: it does tell us something. We simply can't rely solely on Grandpa's pronouncements about the turkey's tastiness before he passes out on the coach watching the Cowboys!

However, to allay the fears of those who would rather not "cook to the test," each cook will be subjected to "multiple measures." Diners will be trained on what to look for in a meal: the lumpiness of potatoes, the tartness of cranberry sauce, etc. Inter-rater reliability is the key: if you like chunky applesauce, we will teach you not to.

Now, some have worried that under such a onerous and restrictive testing regime, no one will want to cook a Thanksgiving meal ever again. The fun of trying new recipes, making mistakes, spending extra time on the superfluous candied carrots - all of these things will be eliminated in the new, reformy Thanksgiving. This is, after all, a country where up to 50% of moms throw in the towel after five years and declare, "Next year, we're making reservations!" And there's no research that shows any of these policies will make meals any better anyway.

But those are just more excuses from defenders of the status quo. They refuse to see that we have a Thanksgiving gap in this country. Poverty is simply an excuse for those who don't care about bad cooking. There are amazing cooks who can make an entire Thanksgiving meal for 40 on a budget of $50; they prove that poverty is not destiny in the kitchen!

It's time to put eaters first! It's time to reject the Thanksgiving status quo! Everyone must help! We must act now!

(What's that? It's time to do the dishes? Yeah, listen, I've gotta run; have an early day at the think tank tomorrow...)

Another union hack with Cadillac benefits...


giuseppe said...

Che bellezza! Thanks for the laugh, it sure beats wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of the hair, what's left of it. Very clever and very Swiftian.
Buon Giorno del Ringraziamento!

Duke said...

Mille grazie, pisan!

Carol Lee said...

Lol i love the way you integrated education with the current issues.

Happy Thanksgiving anyway! :)

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Deb said...

Thanks Duke. You're the best! You have no idea how much I admire your ability, within a couple of blog posts, to outrage me and then leave me I tears laughing. I hope you had as much fun writing that as I did reading it!

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