A while back I watched Jamie Oliver’s TED talk and an episode about food education – or lack of – in which he makes a point about most children not being able to identify the basic whole foods he has shown them. For example, they didn’t know what a tomato was, but they knew a ketchup bottle; they didn’t know a whole potato, but definitely knew a french fry. This might seem comical, but think of the repercussions..
Would a child pick up a leaf of lettuce and eat it? That wrinkly thing that looks a part of a lawn? No, they will go for a french fry, for a piece of bread, for a slab of ham, items they are used to seeing in a kitchen, a school cafeteria, or a restaurant.
Some parents do not prepare meals at home at all, citing time and cost, so how could feeding their children takeaway and read-made meals not contribute to poor growth and development?
What we are taught about food and how the culture of eating evolves throughout our childhood conditions and shapes our behaviour with food for the rest of our lives.
Mostly, we are left to our own devices, to inform ourselves, to experiment, and to make choices. Because we all have to eat, we are making that choice multiple times a day, every day. That amounts to a lot of potential for bad choices. And while it may seem like they’re not serious choices – after all, it passes through our stomachs within hours, to seemingly serve only a momentary purpose: to satiate and give energy, it turns out that we are largely just being driven by cravings (visual, emotional and taste-buds).
Why is this a problem?
Well, food is a big industry, it’s a business. I believe that no one is in this business to make us healthy because then they wouldn’t have us as ‘patients’ to treat and spend money on their products.
Food advertising has a strong influence on all of us, especially children, therefore, it should be strictly regulated in order to avoid the development of bad eating and poor nutritional choices.
But mostly because it’s an unavoidable truth that the biggest contributor to contemporary global population’s diseases and death rates is diet: Preventable diseases and death, that is.
Numerous studies, time and time show, that a whole-food, plant-based, preferably local and organic diet, in conjunction with moderate daily activity, is sufficient to treat preventable diseases and death due to: obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, allergies, degenerative diseases, body toxicity (acidity), etc.
Here is the simplified version:
Foods that cause the increase in alkalinity of the body (and should comprise of 80% of the daily diet): water; fresh in-season fibrous vegetables and ripe, in-season fruit, sprouts and legumes.
Foods that cause the increase in acidity: all animal products without exception, all processed foods, including dairy, flours, seeds, nuts sugars, eggs, honey, olive oil, packaged drinks, snacks and meals.
An acidic body promotes the spread of cancer, chronic diseases, infection, and even mental disorders.
Famous chef and food activist Jamie Oliver has filed a direct appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations for help in the fight against the global crisis of obesity. Oliver wrote an open letter to Ban Ki-moon and asked that the high-level General Assembly hold a meeting on combating non-communicable diseases which are risk factors caused by improper diet.
Oliver called on the UN to take immediate action and convince the authorities of all countries to take measures for education about healthy eating. He warned that there is a real global threat of fast food, processed food and unhealthy beverages.
Oliver is known for its campaigns for better food, namely his School dinner series in the UK and Food revolution series in the US. His initiative is focused on providing education on healthy eating in schools around the world.
We currently face the epidemic of obesity in the world, and 42 million children under the age of 5 have a serious problem with weight and weight-related health issues. This generation is the first that will have a shorter lifespan than their parents if nothing is done to prevent this trajectory.
The Food Revolution initiative, inviting people to sign a petition and start a movement that is powerful enough to compel all the governments of the G20 group to instate mandatory education about nutrition in grade schools.
“Introducing nutrition education means more than looking at nutritional needs… To be effective, nutrition education must tackle the classroom, the school environment, and the family and community” (FAO)
World Health Organization estimated that there will be a 17% increase in mortality over the next 10 years from diet- and lifestyle-related (sedentary/ inactive/ indulgent) health issues. Dozens of heads of state will meet in New York that the negotiations on the resolution: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and chronic lung diseases associated with lifestyle choices such as tobacco, nutrition, obesity, alcohol and lack of physical activity. This is the second General Assembly session devoted to health. Although it’s good to see this being prioritised, it seems like precious human capital and time is spent on issues that could easily and simply be prevented using just common sense.
However, experts for Human Rights of the United Nations warned that the voluntary health food guidelines will not be enough to bring about changes in the diet and to combat obesity as a prevention for many diseases. Even high fees and penalties on junk food and unhealthy food products are not enough (after all, fast food, take-away, eating out and ready-meals ARE more expensive as is),
so what’s to be done?
Jamies Oliver Food Foundation, a California-based non-profit that aims to bring practical food education to schools.
How the world could better fight obesity report