This is the fourth year for Food Revolution Day, an international campaign led by British chef Jamie Oliver that promotes food education and skills for children (and adults too). Sadly, while greater food choice is available to many of us in the world, that so-called food is more and more processed and detrimental to our health. In case you think I’m overstating this point, consider this:
Children today are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents
Does that shock you? It shocks and saddens me. What have we accomplished in the name of progress? As a global society we’re eating less and less real food, in favour of highly processed, dubiously packaged so-called food that’s engineered to induce cravings. I generally don’t use this blog as a forum for ranting, but it works me up to see that our misguided ways are affecting our children’s life expectancy.
How could this be? Are you having trouble believing the statement above? Consider these supporting facts:
- Worldwide there are more than 42 million children under the age of 5 who are overweight or obese
- Diet-related illnesses are among the world’s biggest killers
Now, I’m no dietary saint. I don’t always follow a perfectly balanced, natural diet. Sometimes dinner is take out and sometimes I enjoy some packaged candy. But that’s the exception, not the rule. I’m so fortunate that I learned to cook from scratch when I was a kid, and it helps that I simply enjoy cooking (most of the time).
While the ideal may be to eat only food produced from whole ingredients, let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves. Instead, let’s just take little steps to improve our diets. Remember, each time our kids see us cooking from scratch, we’re teaching them a positive lesson. And if we have no children, let’s do this for ourselves and for the community of adults around us. I have to admit, now that my nest is empty it’s harder to make the right choices when they’re just for me. But when I think about it, it’s still important to model positive food choices for my family, regardless of whether I’m cooking for them or not. They need to see that maintaining my health deserves as much care as I gave to theirs when they were growing up.
Wow, this post has been heavy so far. Don’t despair, take heart: the answer to a healthier future for our children and ourselves lies in education, and sharing knowledge and skills. That’s why Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day petition urging leaders of the G20 group of countries to institute compulsory, practical food education is so important. I signed it and shared it. Won’t you? If you’re still not sure, please watch this video to see what Jamie Oliver has to say about the need for food education — it may be the best way you spend two minutes today!
While the focus of Food Revolution Day is on children, adults need to develop food knowledge and cooking skills too. In 2013 I published a list of five things you can do to support Food Revolution Day, Here are five more:
- Invite a friend or two to go with you to your local farmers’ market this weekend and challenge them to take home and cook with one ingredient that’s new to them. Post your dishes on social media to share your success and inspire others to do the same.
- If you have school-age children, involve them in coming up with new healthy and tasty lunch box ideas, and then implement them.
- It’s spring, so plant some herbs or radishes in your garden or just bring some herbs in containers home from the grocery store and put them in your kitchen.
- Why not organize a pot-luck at the workplace where everyone brings an easy, tasty dish made from whole foods and copies of the recipe for everyone else to take home?
- Find an accountability partner to support you in cooking more from scratch. This can be a friend who’s an accomplished cook or someone who’s also challenged to put real food on the table. Brainstorm about your concerns and challenges, share strategies for preparing simple, quick and tasty meals and set goals (start small and move up from there, such as ‘This week I will make a home-cooked meal on Tuesday and Saturday’). Touch base regularly with your accountability partner to brainstorm how to overcome roadblocks and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Before you know it, every day will be Food Revolution Day for you and those you care about!