Food News: Jamie Oliver’s “Teach Every Child About Food”
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where my brothers and I were always encouraged to help my mother cook. However, a freshly prepared dinner is not accessible for the majority of kids in America. Today, processed food and fast food chains dominate our food industry, which remained primarily local only thirty years ago.
America has become one of the unhealthiest countries in the world with obesity-related diseases contributing to 10% of health care bills. The leading killers in America are diet related. For the first time ever, children have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
The only way to change the obesity epidemic and health crisis in America is to fix our diets. This has to start with education in our schools with the youngest generations. If we educate children about food they will develop healthy habits that will hopefully stay with them for their entire lives.
Our country needs a food revolution and Jamie Oliver of Essex, England is working with our government to improve changes in our food industry and school systems. He was one of the first people who inspired me to want to educate people about food and health. Jamie Oliver has done remarkable work revitalizing the food systems in the UK and the United States.
Schools in America are constantly battling for quality meals. Now food regulations allow French fries and ketchup to count as a daily serving of vegetables. If this isn’t terrifying enough, pizza is allowed as a reasonable breakfast option. Some schools do not even give children utensils to eat their meals with. This ultimately “endorses fast food,” because children become accustomed to only eating food with their hands.
Labeling food is also a critical issue. Something can be labeled low in fat but be saturated with sugar. This is the case with most milk in schools. Oliver says, “milk [isn’t] good enough anymore.” It is sweetened so that more kids will drink it. Kids who are given this milk twice a day will consume more than eight tablespoons of sugar just through milk. This amounts to a wheel barrel of sugar in just five years.
There are no food experts working in the government to advocate for better school meals. Jamie Oliver began his revolution by persuading the government to make healthier options for school lunches. He worked tirelessly in school kitchens and realized that it is not the schools’ fault. They are doing the best with the food they are provided.
Jamie Oliver believes that “the power of food has a primal place in our home.”
His goal is to educate every child in America about healthy eating. He has initiated new meal plans in schools across the country along with kitchen classrooms that offer free cooking classes. This is a burdensome load for just one person. So, Jamie Oliver needs our help.
The first step toward his solution for a healthier nation is to cook at home. It can be simple and less expensive than eating out and is guaranteed to be healthier.
Second, schools need to educate students about food. Jamie Oliver believes that it is essential for: “every student [to] graduate knowing how to cook ten recipes that will save [their] lives.” Cooking is a life skill.
Third, large food companies need to embrace the changes in the food industry. Fast food companies can be a part of the solution. We need to reverse the unhealthy taste Americans have grown accustomed to. There needs to be a new standard of fresh, healthy food. Large food brands need to provide more information and education about their products. If America makes these changes other countries will follow in their lead.
Finally, all grocery stores should hire food ambassadors to help people shop for food and plan out their meals. They could provide cooking lessons and offer simple, quick recipes.
If you are interested in learning more about Jamie Oliver’s fight for improvement in our food system watch his TED Talk or visit his website. His mission is: “to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”