It’s timely the results of a New Zealand survey looking at how much cooking education goes on in our schools came out last week, with it being #FoodRevolution Day last Friday.
The crux of what Jamie Oliver is addressing through the revolution he has established, is to inspire positive change in how our kids are eating. We have all seen the stats that as a nation, and globally, the concerning rates of overweight and obesity in our little ones, and whilst there are many community programmes and a NZ government childhood obesity in place, will it achieve what it needs to for each and every New Zealand child?
The complexity of obesity goes beyond what a blog can cover off, but what Jamie Oliver and many of us do understand and want to encourage, is the skill of basic cooking, and the place it has in leading healthier lifestyles. We fundamentally know it’s a life skill all children should have access to achieving, but the reality is there are many barriers to overcome to make it a common place occurrence in a household.
I consider myself privileged to have had access to a kitchen from a young age, namely through my Granny and an inherent interest for how to cook, albeit mainly baking, but it got me in there all the same. I then had cooking lessons in my intermediate and high school years, through what was known at the time as Home Economics. Again, mainly baking – but at least it was something to keep the interest alive. I also knew that once I left home, I had to know the basics and rummaged my Mum’s handwritten recipe collection to equip myself with some dinner options. She did end up getting me my own copy of the Edmonds Cookbook, which is still my most used cook book to this day.The research undertaken by Massey University and commissioned by the New Zealand Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz, confirmed baking is still a main stay in the intermediate school cooking curriculum, with teaching of preparing main meals taking a back seat. At this point in time, it means the onus of learning how to put together a family dinner comes back to teaching at home.
I wish I could say my two boys love being in the kitchen and want to learn, but perhaps 5 and 7 is too young, perhaps not. There’s often a tight time frame and a low tolerance for mess so how to get around these factors? Some ideas I have tried and will persevere with is introducing cooking sessions slowly - starting with doing it once a week, and on a day where the schedule is more relaxed, perhaps on the weekend. The assembly of food will keep their hands busy, so preparing veges is a perfect one – grating, chopping, slicing, with lots of praise along the way. Talking about where the food has come from or why it’s good for them as you go so they start to understand and connect the many benefits of the food that they will be putting in their mouths. Kids of today love technology so can that be factored in some how? Of course, safety is paramount so insuring you are in the right relaxed mood to multi-task during supervision is key.
At Beef + Lamb New Zealand, we are all about inspiring New Zealanders to get in the kitchen and whether it’s following one of our recipes step by step or putting a tweak on it or winging it as you go, each meal provides an opportunity to harness the family in the cooking hub. It could get messy – but isn’t that the best bit?
I would love to hear ideas from other parents and those that cook with kids.
In the meantime, here’s a video in aid of #FoodRevolution Day, showcasing a recipe that you can introduce your kids to the kitchen.
My youngest, Grayson (5) bashing up some herbs and spices to coat meat for one of our dinners.