Getting food on the curriculumEthical Food & Drink News & Features
With 20% of the NHS budget spent on food-related disease, we need to help the next generation make healthier food choices. As a solution, BigBarn has launched a petition asking for food growing, cooking and nutrition to every academic subject in the National Curriculum.
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are just some of the diseases of civilisation driven by a lack of knowledge about healthy food, cooking and nutrition – which leads people to consume the wrong food and drinks.
Half our schools already have veg patches so the cost of fixing this problem will be very low compared with the huge return. But in the current climate we have become disconnected from where our food comes from; in today’s world, too many kids think milk comes from supermarkets, not cows.
Many schools have stopped teaching cooking, believing valuable education requires computer rooms, not kitchens. Schools that have veg patches often have to rely on volunteers.
At the same time, in a high percentage of families both parents work; cheap fast food and ready meals help busy parents feed their family.
The EU’s ‘Cheap Food’ policy has also subsidised intensive farming and distorted the real price of food; as a result, small mixed farms and dairies have been replaced by intensive farms.
Changing the curriculum
According to BigBarn, which has been called ‘the Amazon of local food’, the solution to all these issues is to add food growing, cooking and nutrition to every academic subject in the National Curriculum.
BigBarn has highlighted how food growing and nutrition could be incorporated into all subjects taught in UK classrooms. Seeds per square metre and prices per kilo could be used to teach maths; soil type could be covered in geography; plant growing and pests could be taught in biology; fertiliser could be analysed in chemistry; food labelling could be taught in art and English and sales and marketing could be covered in business studies/economics.
Every school should also have a veg patch and fruit trees, with construction and maintenance funded by revenues raised by the Sugar Tax.
Schools should also link with a local shop or farmer to sell their excess produce, and kids should be encouraged to grow food at home, cook and teach their family how to buy good food.
Costs and benefits
The direct costs of this approach are very low; farmers are already being paid to look after the environment, and subsidies can be updated to include working with schools.
BigBarn and a number of other organisations have teaching notes that could be refined for the curriculum, and a volunteer focus group could be assembled to implement the change.
With just a little investment we could save billions. There would be a huge reduction in the NHS spend on food-related illness as children would be eating healthier food and influencing their parents.
Jobs would be created as students gained an interest in the local food industry, and communities would be built around the school veg patch, local farm or shop and produce.
‘With the cost so low and the reward so high it is amazing that the government have not changed the curriculum years ago’, says BigBarn. ‘To help make this happen soon, please sign this petition and send the link to as many friends and colleagues as you can.’