Jamie Oliver has hit the campaign trail again. This time he is lobbying the governments of the G20 developed countries, to make food education for children compulsory in schools.
He has set up a petition on Change.org, and he is trying to amass 1 million signatures by the end of #FoodRevolutionDay on May 15th.
As a parent I feel this is fantastically important. We are not always good as a family. I am moderately overweight, and I know that I eat a bit too much sweet stuff and don’t do enough exercise. I do sometimes use unhealthy food as a treat for myself and my children, and we can occasionally be seen in some of the fast food joints that would make a nutritionist shudder.
But the big difference is – I know what I am doing and I am making a conscious choice. Every day I do as much as I can to eat healthy food myself and to make sure that my children are getting a constant variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds and grains, lean proteins and water.
My children know what a basic healthy diet should be and they understand that when we deviate from it that is an occasional treat. As they get older and show an interest I am letting them cook, first supervised and increasingly as they hit their teens, unsupervised.
Both of them also know that they need to exercise in order to keep themselves fit, and they have each chosen a sport (rowing and martial arts) which keeps them active for several hours a week. I am teaching them to do better than me, and they will leave home with basic skills which I hope will allow them to live a long healthy life.
It horrifies me to think that there are children whose parents never cook fresh vegetables, and who probably have no idea that what they are eating every day runs the risk of making them very unwell as they reach adulthood and shortening their life. Children will always copy their parents, but some parents either don’t know or don’t really care about healthy eating.
I have met quite a lot of adults who don’t know how to cook anything unless it comes in a packet with microwave instructions on it. And when we do venture into the fast food establishments it is quite clear that for quite a lot of the people we see, that is a very normal occurrence for them.
I understand that children should be able to learn things from their parents and that schools do not want to teach things which they think belong better at home. But to the extent that we already have a generation of parents who don’t have the skills to teach their children about healthy eating and how to cook unprocessed food, then a little bit of extra support from the schools can only be a very good thing.
So I am right behind Jamie Oliver with this campaign. My children may curse me at the moment for the quantity and variety of vegetables I keep putting in front of them, but I know that when they are older they will thank me for it.
If even a few children whose parents can’t or won’t cook learn a few healthy lessons from school and take them into adulthood, then the world my children grow up into will be a happier healthier place.
If you would like some inspiration to cook from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day site, then check out his collection of recipes that are simple to cook at home