By now, you've probably seen (or even shared) the popular set of photos showing delicious, healthful school lunches from around the world, juxtaposed with a photo of the American equivalent, which of course looks like complete dogshit by comparison. Stop sharing it. The images aren't meant to show actual school lunches, and many versions replaced the original U.S. entry, which didn't seem that bad, with an intentionally gross one.



The photo gallery first appeared on the Tumblr of east coast salad chain Sweetgreen, to promote the company's donations toward healthy food for kids. Sweetgreen arranged and shot the meals themselves, based on the contents international lunches—these pretty, well-lit, probably organic versions of the dishes were never served in an actual cafeteria (as you'd think people would be able to tell from the same tray and background in every photo).

The meals aren't "fake," they were just presented as representative of the kinds of dishes you'd find in various countries. But things started to get weird when sites began removing that context, replacing Sweetgreen's USA photo with a different one, and adding rants about Michelle Obama. Curse her and her totalitarian program of produce and whole grains!

See, for example, the Daily Mail's story "The School Lunches That Shame America," which does nothing to imply that the Sweetgreen photos aren't from actual school lunches, and an even worse Conservative Tribune post that was called out on Snopes. At least the Daily Mail version sources the gross mystery meat photo—it's tater tot casserole, by the way—to its origins on Twitter; the Conservative Tribune piece doesn't bother.

If America should be ashamed of its school lunches, it's not because they don't live up to a bunch of restaurant-quality food porn shot by an actual restaurant.

[h/t Snopes]