I’m an Ancient Mariner when it comes to stopping parents with children and enthusing about Bee Wilson’s books, especially First Bite and The Way We Eat Now. Adults can be helped by Michael Mosley but changing the way children relate to food and getting them to realise that healthy food can be equally or more pleasurable to eat than highly processed food is the key to bringing down obesity in children and, through them, their parents.
The TastEd scheme and Washingborough Academy described in The Way We Eat Now are blueprints for making a healthier generation which might be more resistant to future pandemics. Combine this with a proper consideration of rationing during the Second World War and more scepticism of the advertising claims of highly processed foods. There is plenty of research into what should be done but it just requires the will given that many adults in schools and hospitals are overweight. When schools have little outdoor space it should always be possible to grow some herbs.
Teaching about where food comes from, how it’s produced and how it can be cooked with all the chemical changes is interesting in itself. Eating slowly and being encouraged to eat with others at school brings back food into the social realm especially if this doesn’t happen at home because it shows what can be done.
Just as there is plenty of research on obesity there is a great deal on the benefits, in most places, of less intensive farming because it’s generally less wasteful if inputs and outputs are properly costed. I should like to see closer communication between farms and schools – Farms for City Children for instance has helped children with problems see a way out of those problems.