Sunday, 13 October 2013

FESTIVAL OF IDEAS: DEVELOPING A LOVE OF SEASONAL FRESH FOOD FROM CHILDHOOD

As a lover of all things food, I was keen to attend the Festival of Ideas' forum on 'Developing a Love of Seasonal Fresh Food from Childhood.'  With such a high caliber of food leaders as speakers, I thought it was a must to hear what they had to say.

This free event was a held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday 3 October.  There was a great mix of speakers, all complimenting one another, shedding light on various aspects including nutrition, confidence of children and economic factors.

Kerin O'Dea, Janne Apelgren, Kendra Parker, Ange Barry, Stephanie Alexander, John Funder (L-R)

The first speaker was Stephanie Alexander, founder of the 'Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation'.  I was very excited to hear what Stephanie had to say as she is one of my food heroes.  What a passionate and inspiring person!  With her drive to spread the word of "fresh, seasonal food and you can have it everyday" to primary school children, it was amazing to see how far her message and program has spread.  To date, there are 398 schools Australia-wide, around 35,000 children, participating in the 'Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation' program.  They teach kids the cycle of "grow, harvest, prepare and share."  Giving them confidence, while learning fundamental skills all at the same time.
Stephanie Alexander, Author and Chef

Janne Apelgren's talk looked at how we are currently living in the "era of restaurants."  As we dine out more and more, we, including children, are expecting tastier foods, which are generally higher in salt, fat and sugar than home cooked meals.  She also brought it back to firsthand experience of being a busy parent.  Janne commented on an industry trend where more restaurateurs are focusing on seasonal, organic, local produce as well as looking at quality rather than quantity.
Janne Apelgren, The Age Good Food Guide Editor

For me, I found Kendra Parker, principle of Mentone Park Primary School, a true inspiration as she pioneered to change her school's culture to value nutritious food.  A great example is the evolution of their canteen into a healthy 'Kids' Café.'  They utilise their own veggie patch and hold cooking classes for the students.  Kendra even talks to parents about healthy lunchboxes prior to students commencing Prep.  It was amazing to hear the successful change of a community which now embraces nutritious food.
Kendra Parker, Mentone Park Primary School Principal

To add another dimension to the forum, Kerin O'Dea spoke about the economic side to food.  Through an American study, it was charted that sugary, 'white' foods were cheaper than fresh, nutritious foods.  Kerin also talked about the health affects currently present due to lack of nutritious food consumption.
Kerin O'Dea, Population Health and Nutrition, University of South Australia Professor

Panel Discussion

I found the forum a great eye opener which definitely got the brain ticking.  I thought about my herb garden and my small rhubarb plant, fig tree and lemon tree, and how I could incorporate more seasonal produce into my cooking.  If you would like more information, please visit:
http://ideas.unimelb.edu.au/events/evening-keynote-developing-a-love-of-seasonal-fresh-food-from-childhood
http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/
http://www.mentonepark.vic.edu.au/community/kidsCafe.html

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