As we prepare to drive to Cologne for Chef Sache (more tomorrow on this event with some of the greatest chefs in the world), we have been following the discussion taking place at the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Torino Italy about fast food and cooking for children and we tend to agree with pretty much all that has been said.
A panel discussion was held together with Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver.
These three personalities are campaigning on a daily basis so that everyone can have access to healthy and nutritious food cooked in an eco-sustainable way.
We have a moral obligation to feed children food that is good for them
Alice Waters said at the panel discussion that “We have a moral obligation to feed children food that is good for them.” Apart from being a chef of the world-renowned Chez Panisse, Waters is an activist that created the Edible Schoolyard Network. Founded in 1994, Waters built a garden in an unused plot of land in the back of a local school and now the project supports educators worldwide to help schools create gardens which enable children to connect with food.
Jamie Oliver is not new to campaigning for feeding children properly. He pointed out that in America alone, 4.6 billion dollars are spent on advertising ‘crap’ or junk food to kids. “There is not one thing we can do to fix the problem, it has to be an ambush,” he said. According to Fast Food Facts, in the US, McDonald’s alone spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water and milk advertisers combined. The same fact-sheet notes that these restaurants continue to offer large or extra-large soft drinks (350 to 850 calories) and large french fries (470 to 610 calories).
He says that “one of the biggest and best luxuries in the world is food knowledge and knowing how to cook. Food education is the way to make the local and national food system better.”
In recent years, Jamie Oliver, has used his popularity to become one of the world’s leading activists for teaching children and parents on the benefits of cooking and eating healthily. He has also set up the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation which aims to inspire people to reconnect with food. It is all about raising awareness and individual responsibility, resuscitating dying food culture around the world and, ultimately, keeping cooking skills alive.
Petrini spoke about his recent work to try and get councils to ban the sale of soft drinks in schools in Italy. He spoke about the importance of not only eating proper food but also of teaching children to learn where food comes from. Petrini said that all the schools in the world should ensure good, clean and fair food to all the children in the world.
Changing the system is no easy feat. Last year, obesity and obesity related illness killed more people than malnutrition according to studies. Jamie Oliver told the audience that “the enemy is very rich and strategic, they employ the cleverest minds and they are well dug in.” The British chef said that “we need to work together as a team, stronger and better to create a food revolution.”
Each and everyone of us, particularly those interested in food, must help to spread the word and encourage more people to think about the food they eat. The biggest challenge we face is taking things for granted.