The sec­ond, rather more seri­ous­ly, is edu­ca­tion about food. I con­sid­er myself bloody lucky that being brough­tup on a farm meant I knew how to grow a cour­get­te, slaugh­ter an ani­mal, and dig for spuds. I knew that you had to wait patient­ly for the black­cur­rants to ripen, oth­er­wise they would be sour as hell, and to cov­er the bush­es with net­ting to deter the birds.

Thanks to my upbring­ing, I under­stand the joy of sea­son­al pro­duce: that every­thing has its peak at some point in the year, be it straw­ber­ries or turnips; and that both are equal­ly deli­cious if treat­ed the right way. I also under­stand that we don’t all share sim­i­lar upbring­ings. We do, how­ev­er, all under­take pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary edu­ca­tion.

Garden to Table, kids cooking
Gar­den to Table: teach­ing kids kitchen skills for life

I could be around for anoth­er 80 or so years if I play my cards right. That’s a hell of a lot of columns. It’s prob­a­bly not some­thing oth­ers would rel­ish. In any case, I don’t think it’s unrea­son­able to want to see food edu­ca­tion become a core val­ue in schools before I do even­tu­al­ly snuff it.

Per­haps I am more biased that the aver­age per­son, mak­ing my liv­ing from food, but learn­ing about food should be as fun­da­men­tal as learn­ing to read or write, or work­ing out the val­ue of x. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about the val­ue of x. I’ve nev­er need­ed to find what x is since I was 15 and in a maths class. Sure, some of us, in our day-to-day jobs as accoun­tants or engi­neers, need to find the val­ue of x. But inflict­ing it on the rest of us is unnec­es­sar­i­ly cru­el.

Of course, such ide­al­is­tic chat­ter is all well and good, but there are seri­ous hur­dles to con­tend with. There’s hard­ly any prece­dent. There’s no mon­ey. For such a change to take place, we would need both. Tak­ing pri­ma­ry edu­ca­tion by the horns and giv­ing it a shake up is no sim­ple task. I don’t think we’ll ever agree about the best way to edu­cate a child. But sure­ly hav­ing at least some vague knowl­edge about what we eat is just as impor­tant as learn­ing about sub­trac­tion and nouns.

The point is, we all have to eat. Most of us aren’t doing it well. Get ‘em while they’re young, I say. Instil a set of val­ues in our chil­dren that will hold them in good stead for life.

We are see­ing a change. Great things always have small begin­nings. Ini­tia­tives are pop­ping up all over the coun­try, such as gardentotable.org.nz, a pro­gram­me to tack­le child obe­si­ty. The­se groups have been born out of neces­si­ty. But to see it hap­pen on a nation­al scale – now wouldn’t that be just grand? We real­ly are what we eat. At the moment, I seri­ous­ly hope that that doesn’t make New Zealand a large bag of chips.

how to boil an egg, egg, recipe

Such a joy to cook break­fast today for @mmered­ith27 and the incred­i­ble @eatmylunch.nz team on their last morn­ing of the year – 300,000 lunch­es to needy chil­dren thus far.

Insta­gram: sam.mannering

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