I have been involved in food education since 2005 when I started to write my first book, What’s for Dinner? I wrote it as much for myself and my family as for other people. It contained a recipe for every day with helpful shopping lists. I felt reassured that if I got knocked down by a bus that my family would at least have a kitchen bible to turn to so that they would continue to eat healthily every day.
Nine years later, the bus hasn’t got me yet and I have written Part II of What’s for Dinner? So the children now have over a thousand recipes to turn to in their hour of need. I have also learnt about food including our society’s attitude to it, how it is sold to us, how we educate our children about it and how its production impacts on the environment.
The issue of food has become very complicated over the last 30 /40 years. For something so simple in its raw form – fish, meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables – how to cook and what to eat has become fraught with difficulty for western civilisation. Our food culture has largely been discarded as an old-fashioned notion replaced by an attitude that we can eat what we want, when we want.
This attitude is slowly starting to change as we being to realise that we are living longer but often in a less healthy state, and that the environment cannot sustain the way we consume and the amount we waste.
When I wrote my books I also set up The Food Education Trust, a charity that seeks to educate people as to the benefits of a home cooked diet.
I have been to many, many schools over the years and met many children, teachers and parents. I remain resolutely of the opinion that our food ills as a nation would be improved to a huge extent if we all set out our minds to eating “food” in its true sense – primary produce, fish, meat, fruit, vegetable and cereals – and accept that we do have time to cook, despite what the advertisements want us to believe.
We all have time to put a meal on the table for our families most days of the week. Parents, schools, GPs and local and national government need to espouse this simple message. Gradually a food culture will start to re-establish itself and as a nation we will start to feel more at ease with food.
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