Cookery classes could save a junk food generation

Jan Miller, shocked by finding that a six-year-old girl didn’t know what a potato was, agrees with Fiona Carnie that schools have a valuable role to play in improving diets

Bravo to Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for campaigning on child health (Obesity is a ‘national security issue’ Jamie Oliver tells MPs, 2 May). I volunteered to grow vegetables with a local primary school and worked out which we could grow that would crop before the summer holidays, with stories and songs for each age group which they all enjoyed. But I was shocked to find a six-year-old girl who did not know what a potato was.

She agreed that she liked eating chips and crisps but was very sceptical that this hard dirty brown thing had anything to do with them. So she had never seen her mother take a potato (one of the cheapest and easiest things to cook) and prepare it in the kitchen. This is another part of the health problem; many parents buy ready-made junk food because they do not know what to do with vegetables. We stopped teaching domestic science in schools in the 1970s and 80s because we weren’t supposed to make girls feel they had to be tied to the kitchen sink. But everyone – male and female – needs to learn how to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families.
Jan Miller
Whitford, Flintshire

• If all schoolchildren were given free, healthy breakfasts and lunches they would have less room in their stomachs for junk. This would surely be cheaper than paying for the impending obesity catastrophe and would go some way to tackling growing food poverty in families. Oh yes – and you can learn if you aren’t hungry. While hesitating to call on schools to address yet another of the ills caused by avaricious global corporations, they clearly have a valuable role to play here. Learning how to grow food and cook isn’t a bad idea either.
Fiona Carnie
Alternatives in Education

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