The Million Dollar Question!
Our relationship with food is a complicated one – from trust, to control and even comfort. Our views are formed from a very young age and continue to evolve thanks to the influence of our home life, watching our peers, experiencing school dinners, constant food advertising and so much more.
Undoubtably, the world of food has become over complex.
How do we navigate this complex world of food with our children? Get the kids on board! Let’s face it, they love nothing more than getting messy in the kitchen!
My experience since my kids started school is pretty poor. They went from nourishing whole food meals at nursery to bland, unexciting and down-right uninspiring school dinners (I do have to remind my kids that the cooks cater for over 900 people – however I agree, our school meals are indeed lacking in delicious variety of whole foods, and our local authority must do better!). Their peers often bring processed snack bars (the healthier kind, although are they?) to eat at snack time and lets not talk about the PTA events involving cakes, crisps and chocolate (no disrespect to any PTA parents out there, you guys do a fab job fundraising for our schools!). Talk about a sea of food confusion!
Argh, is it just me or does it sometimes feels like there’s no hope?!
Alas there is…
I have spent a busy term working in a primary school in Hove delivering healthy eating workshops to children ranging from age 9 through to 11. I hit them with some up to date science on our gut microbiome, teach them the power of reading food labels, open their eyes to clever marketing tactics from food giants and get down and dirty in my classroom kitchen. To say these kids were shocked when we spent ten minutes picking apart their ‘healthy’ snack of choice is an understatement – and some parents too.
The humble Soreen bar – pitched as the perfect choice for active people yet it contains a whopping 30 ingredients (some of which none of us could pronounce which is always worrying – we all concurred that none of us had malic acid to hand in our store cupboard!). The kids minds were blown when they realised a lot of these additional ingredients are used to give the food a longer shelf life rather to enhance our health. Its no surprise that scientists have discovered that these stabilisers are indeed harmful for our long term health, shame on our government for not doing something about it! Fear not, there is an alternative – a simple 10-minute prep homemade malt loaf containing just 7 ingredients. Mind blown again!
Okay, so I am well aware of how busy life is – the main reason why the convenience food market has grown exponentially. How do we squeeze baking a cake in to our ever demanding days and weeks? However I don’t know about you, but I think our bodies and brains deserve better! There is always a way!
And that is why my school workshops are heavily classroom kitchen based – makes sense huh, after all it’s best to learn by doing! Together these amazing kids make and feast on broad bean, spinach and broccoli pesto pasta, beetroot hummus, homemade Doritos, carrot cake energy balls and a summer fruit salad. Who’d have thought? If you had asked these kids at the beginning of our workshops if they’d eat beetroot, undoubtably their answer would have been a flat no – yet by the end it was a resounding yes! This my friends, is the power of connecting with food. Not only were the kids involved in making the delicious dishes themselves, they shared the entire experience with their peers. Goodbye control, welcome new experiences.
This is exactly these very same, utterly brilliant brave kids – all 180 of them – and I have decided these workshops need to be rolled out in all schools across our country – Introducing The Real Food Club, real food education delivered in schools as part of the DH and PSHE curriculum.
Coming to schools near you in the next academic year.
If you think this is something your school needs, drop me a line here.
We are always on the look out for passionate people to help deliver these proven workshops. Ideally an ex teacher with a passion for real food education. If this is you, drop me a line here.