I must confess that I am more than a tiny bit skeptical, but schools in Lodi, California have decided to embrace the concept beginning in August. It's part of a plan to get kids thinking about healthier, natural choices, and actually getting them to make those choices when it comes to lunchtime. I certainly don't mind admitting that the snack line in my district is quite well attended, and that I'm not quite sure how my 8th graders would receive a salad bar at lunch either. But what if it included some of the ingredients grown in the schools own garden? I’ve read about plenty of schools that have their own organic, community gardens, and I'd be willing to bet that students who grew the stuff would be more willing to try it for lunch than if it just showed up at the salad bar on a Tuesday afternoon. Of course, the real elephant in the room on this issue is the level of hygiene both in and around the salad bar itself. I’ll give you an example that I think illustrates just how big an issue this really works out to be in schools… I recently gave an assignment to my 8th graders that asked them to read a brief article about how seals choose their mates, and then asked them to compare that process with how humans choose theirs in a one-page essay. What I expected was an analysis of how both groups went about the process, including things like flirting, dating, etc… But what I got, however, was an extensive list of the things my 8th graders considered to be most important in a potential mate. And while I instinctually expected that they would put physical appearance, social status, personality, and financial resources at the top of their lists, I was stunned to see that the number one issue for both males and females across every class I have was, in fact, good hygiene. It seems to me that if middle school students put good hygiene before everything else at a time when they are obsessed with the opposite sex, the actual level of hygiene is probably far more of a problem than even I might now expect. Hopefully the sneeze-guards in Lodi will be augmented with constant and vigilant adult supervision, enabling students to benefit from an otherwise terrific idea that could, in fact, gently nudge them to make healthier choices for both themselves and the environment.