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Learning to Respect Our Food

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One thing Iâ??m passionate about is helping everyone understand where our food comes from. This is especially important information for children, some of whom prefer processed foods from vending machines when they are looking to feed their hunger or quench their thirst.

One thing I’m passionate about is helping everyone understand where our food comes from. This is especially important information for children, some of whom prefer processed foods from vending machines when they are looking to feed their hunger or quench their thirst.

How many of these children, when asked where our water comes from, would answer, “The tap”? How many, when asked where food comes from, would respond, “The supermarket”? Children in developing nations might more likely answer these questions accurately with, “Water comes from the sky” and “Food grows in the field.”

It is only when we can touch, smell, and see the daily miracle of food growing that we truly understand where it comes from. Only then do we know what quality food means and only then can we begin to prefer fresh rather than processed food.

I believe that children’s health begins with understanding the basic gifts of nature. In April 2006, Quebecois journalist Eugenie Francoeur wrote about the people of Okinawa, in southern Japan, who have long been studied for their healthy longevity. Francoeur described the enthusiasm Okinawan children have for vegetables and explained that their lunch menu consists of rice, millet, tofu, vegetables, tiny fish, and seaweed. Each day, one or two of these rural children were selected to serve lunch to other children while wearing chef uniforms–another way to teach the respect food deserves.

In stark contrast, a study by the British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk) published last year showed that over one third of British children aged eight to 14 did not know that French fries are made from potatoes.

This disassociation from food does not serve us well. Fortunately, right here in Canada, a nonprofit group called Evergreen (evergreen.ca) hosts a Learning Grounds program that is available to help educators install a school food garden, where children can learn about food and its production. Evergreen offers a promising way to help our children begin to understand what is natural and choose the highest quality food for their bodies.

Evergreen Green Bean Salad

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