Sam Mannering — Food Education
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.
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.