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Posts Tagged ‘growing food in schools’

I’ve decided to invent a monthly theme within my blog, in order to discuss some of the food related issues that are happening in the world today (in the hope that it might spark some healthy debate and get us all gabbing!).  By calling it “Monthly Musing”, I’m forcing myself to adhere to it on a monthly basis.  This is to get a) some routine for the blog and b) some discipline for myself!  I was originally going to call it “Monday Musings”, but if life has taught me anything, it is to be realistic!

I’ve been inspired to do this, after reading this Forum post on the UK Food Bloggers Association website.  Inspired not only by the subject matter, but also by a blogger who commented on it, saying that she contributes to a “Thoughtful Thursday” theme, vaguely similar to what I intend to do with my Monthly Musings. 

Image taken from Flickr

So my first topic is about the rumoured plans to scrap cooking lessons in secondary school.  According to the Sustainweb site, who are heading the “Keep Kids Cooking” campaign:

“The coalition Government is now conducting a review of the National Curriculum.  We are concerned that in a drive to “slim down” the curriculum, this small but valuable provision to ensure that children are taught the skills they need to live healthy lives may be lost.  Without basic cooking skills, people are forced to rely on processed ready meals or fast food which is often unhealthy.”

I really dislike this wording.  Are there only two other options in life? Processed ready meals and fast food?  What about the healthy school meals that were tirelessly campaigned for, by celebrity chefs etc?  And is it just me that thinks the above statement is doing nothing short of accusing every school child’s parents of having the inability to prepare nutritious meals?

As much as I love cooking now, I had absolutely no interest in it when I was at school.  Hardly surprising considering the dull, bland selection of recipes we had to choose from.  On one of our first cooking classes, we spent 2 hours preparing a cheese sandwich and a strawberry milkshake.  Granted, that’s over a decade ago (oh my… I feel elderly), but at no point whatsoever, did I go home and recreate ANY of the dishes we made in class. 

The most prominent memories of cooking classes (or “home-eccies” at our school), were the food fights afterwards, at the Green Bridge down the road from school, with the fruits of the pupils’ cooking labour.  It was especially gruesome when it was Soup Day.  Today’s campaigners for not wasting food would shudder in horror!

I can understand why this campaign might be popular.   And, as someone who is obsessed with food, it would be understandable if I spouted the virtues of learning to cook, but I can’t.  In principle it sounds like a worthwhile cause.   The loss of the cookery classes has been described in the Forum as “a disaster”.  The prospect of children learning how to cook nutritious meals, then recreating them at home for all the family is a lovely idea.  I can’t, however, feasibly see this becoming a reality.  Neither can I detect any genuine correlation, as suggested, between learning how to cook in school and obesity levels.  Do you know many school-aged children who prepare the family meals?

In January, I spoke about my support for a campaign called “Growing Food In Schools“.  Although it would be easy to put these two campaigns under the same umbrella, I think the “Growing Food In Schools” campaign is a lot more beneficial (the initiative says “teaching children food-growing skills can help encourage children to lead healthier lives, through physical activity outdoors and inspiring children to eat the fruit and vegetables they have grown.  It could also raise educational standards and improve behaviour, particularly for those less comfortable in a classroom setting”). 

Personally, I would prefer to see more time being spent on core education, such as English, Maths and the Sciences (as I’m pretty sure the next generation will only be able to write in abbreviated words!).  There is a campaign for making Financial Education compulsory in schools, which I think would be fantastic for the students (and subsequently society) in the long-term.  Can you imagine the horror of all the credit card companies and banks once they realise people are able to handle their money more wisely?
 
I personally am satisfied that the “healthy school meals” initiative is sufficient effort for the schools share of the responsibility.  The rest is up to the parents.

One objection is that it may result in the loss of staff, who currently teach the cookery classes.  This would be an awful consequence of the many cuts that are all around us today, and yes, it would be dire for them.  It’s dire for all of us who have felt the effects of cutbacks.  But if you think of the greater good, I don’t believe it is a justified expense in context, when cuts need to be made.

If, however, you think the campaign is a wonderful idea, you can show your support here

What are your thoughts? x

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I am a Facebook fan of Garden Organic (who are The National Charity for Organic Growing), and they just posted a message, which popped up in my News Feed.  It says:  “We believe that every school should be a food growing school and that every child should have the chance to learn food growing skills”.

I think this is a wonderful idea!  So much so that I wanted to post a blog about it and raise awareness.  I remember when I was in Primary 2 and we had the sweetest teacher, Miss Patterson.  She taught us how to grow watercress and we were all so excited, watching these teeny shoots sprouting up from our little tubs of dirt. 

I don’t remember much from Primary 2, being 5 years old and all (I have trouble remembering a week ago, never mind 20 years ago!).  But the fact I can remember that speaks volumes!  Seeing progress and experiencing achievement works wonders for the little ego!

They have started a campaign, called “Every School A Food-Growing School”, with the aim of persuading the Department for Education to allow this to happen!

I had a look at their report and it says that teaching children food-growing skills can help encourage children to lead healthier lives, through physical activity outdoors and inspiring children to eat the fruit and vegetables they have grown.  It could also raise educational standards and improve behaviour, particularly for those less comfortable in a classroom setting.

Not only that, but it could teach children enterprise skills, such as organising the sale or donation of surplus produce, and build community spirit and a sense of citizenship, for example, linking up across the generations and supporting local charities.

Awww… little Apprentices! 🙂

For more information on the campaign, click here.

Do you already know of schools that have this initiative? 

On a completely different note, I spotted on the Garden Organic website that they are celebrating “National Potato Day” on the 30th January.  I’m shocked that I knew not of this, considering I am a complete tottie fiend!  I try to include potatoes in most of my meals to be honest, but I might try and do something a bit different, to honour such a celebration! 😉

Any suggestions?

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