Tomorrow, May 17, is Food Revolution Day. This movement, spearheaded by Jamie Oliver, is a global day of action focused on people making a stand for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s about getting back to the basics of cooking and eating fresh local produce, sharing cooking skills and food knowledge, and joining forces within communities to promote good eating. To find out more about Food Revolution Day, please visit the official website, here.
It saddens me to know that many children, and indeed many adults, don’t know how to cook or understand where food comes from, and eat a diet largely consisting of over-processed, additive-laden products. I had the advantage of growing up on a farm, with a mother who was an excellent gardener and cook. My own children saw me growing vegetables and herbs in our city yards, and making many of our meals from scratch in our kitchen. Yes, we ate from a can or box or takeout sometimes, but for the most part we enjoyed good, simple meals made from ingredients that everyone could recognize and pronounce.
I appreciate that not everyone has had the advantages I had to be familiar with good food and healthy eating, but it’s never too late to teach your children or yourself the basic life skills of knowing how to use whole, fresh foods to put together a simple, tasty meal that’s good for you. Here are five of my ideas for how we can all be part of the Food Revolution, not just tomorrow but any day.
- Learn to cook using whole foods, starting simple. Build some excitement and have some fun by making lemonade from lemons, sugar and water , and then move up from there. How about a salad with a simple oil and lemon juice dressing? Then maybe a meat spaghetti sauce? There are good cookbooks written for children, and many adult beginner guides at your bookstore or online. There may be classes in your community. Someone you know who enjoys cooking might be delighted to show you the ropes; just ask! Find others who want to learn and band together to make it a shared experience.
- Learn where your food comes from. You may not be able to visit a farm, but many communities have farmers’ markets. Wander around and talk to the people there about where and how they grow and harvest their produce.
- Try a new food every week, whether a fruit, vegetable or a meat. If you have children, involve them in selecting the new food item and make an adventure of it.
- Grow something! It doesn’t have to be a plot of vegetables, just some herbs on a window sill or tomatoes in a pot on your balcony. Radishes grow fast and are cute too; they’re a great way to show kids the process of transforming seeds into food. Experience the pleasure of seeing your food grow and harvesting it to use right away in a meal. If you get bitten by the gardening bug you can create a vegetable garden in your yard, do container gardening on your balcony or patio or join a community gardening program if you don’t have your own space.
- Find out about resources in your community that promote healthy eating and/or gardening and take advantage of them. Here in London, Ontario the London Community Resource Centre offers a Grow,Cook, Learn program. Their services include community gardens, workshops that show people how to incorporate fresh, whole foods into their meal plans and a volunteer advisor program to spread the Grow, Cook, Learn philosophy throughout the community.
If you can participate in any Food Revolution Day activities in your community tomorrow, that’s great, but remember, you can keep the food revolution going all year long.