Every child should know how to grow and cook food, according to Oliver, and he's calling on you to help put practical food education on the standard school curriculum.
Our current eating habits and lifestyle choices are rapidly leading to what some are calling a global obesity epidemic, with some 42 million children under the age of five, including one out of every three U.S. children, qualifying as being overweight or obese. And it's not getting any better, with some experts forecasting that by 2030, 41% of the world's population will be overweight or obese.
Part of the underlying reason for that could be a severe lack of education about food, and while ultimately it might be up to us as parents to teach our children, we tend to rely on schools to do most of that, and elementary schools in the U.S. present an average of less than 3 1/2 hours of food education per year. It's estimated that obesity is responsible for some $2 trillion globally in extra costs each year, which is a staggering amount of money when you consider that we're talking about one of the most basic issues in human health, and one that could be at least partially avoided with better education and an increased emphasis on the connection between diet and health.
This analogy might be overly simplistic, but if each time we went to the gas station to fill up on fuel, we chose to buy an inferior grade of gas, which was much less efficient at moving our car down the road, and included a variety of other non-essential additives that could harm our engine, as well as making our car larger and heavier with each fill-up, we'd eventually learn to make different fuel choices. And if our mechanic told us that we need to change our fuel habits in order to keep from ruining our vehicle, and our financial advisor told us that we're losing a ton of money each year through our foolish (fuelish?) choices, we'd be crazy not to change, right?
Of course, our bodies aren't cars, and our food isn't gasoline, but the basic premise is the same. What we put in our bodies affects our health, our happiness, and our livelihood, just as what we put in our cars affects how well they operate, and we'll be the ones to have to deal with it, both financially and functionally. Considering that we only have one body in this life, and that many of the habits we learn as children are carried over into adulthood, where they can continue to either harm or help us for the rest of our lives, it may be even worse than just choosing the wrong fuel for our vehicles.
So if we're going to make better progress on issues about food and health, which ultimately affect us all, we'll need to do better than we are now, and that's where Food Education Day comes in. Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and global food education advocate, is launching this ambitious initiative on May 15th, and asking all of us to stand up for food education in order to "arm future generations with the life skills they urgently need in order to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives."
"These days millions of people lack even the most basic skills to cook a simple, healthy, fresh meal from scratch. The result is an alarming increase in diet-related disease across the world. Practical food education can provide our children with the knowledge to feed themselves and their future families good, nutritious, tasty food, and I believe it’s vital to reverse the poor health of current generations." - Jamie Oliver
At the core of the campaign is Oliver's petition, which urges G20 nations to address the issue through implementing "compulsory practical food education" in schools around the world. Other elements of Food Revolution Day call on us to do what we can for better food education, whether it's cooking at home with our kids or roommates, hosting a food event in our community, talking to others about the importance of food education, or teaching children and their parents about the connection between diet and health.