For Your Health
Jamie Oliver Takes on Home-Ec Teachers
A Poverty of Nourishment Knowledge
Teetering right there on the edge of eccentricity is cute UK chef Jamie Oliver, as he spouts off about his country’s obesity epidemic. (Frankly, I’m having a little nationalistic schadenfreude over hearing about Brits being of similar girth to their American cousins).
The problem, says the chef and TV star, is ignorance about cooking. He was talking to a “select committee on health inequalities” made up of members of Parliament, encouraging them to pour funds not so much into improving school lunches but into “food education.”
As a former card-carrying member of the American Association of Home Economists (no, really), I applaud Jamie for stepping out and slapping some sense into us (okay, them, but we could all use this finger-wagging).
He iced his carrot cake by railing, “Why isn’t there a Minister of Food?” Interesting question, for all countries. The pandemic of poor nutrition isn’t based so much on class or even economics as it is on lack of knowledge about preparing nutritious meals with what you’ve got, Jamie says.
Maybe it’s my age combined with my partly British heritage, but this all sounds just crazy enough to make sense to me. How many of us LEARNED the chemistry of cooking, much less the basics of food prep?
In what other country can you imagine hearing testimony to a national government body that the few remaining home economics teachers are a “sad, depressed, demoralized workforce” who need “a lot more love”? Why, the same nation in which a large national news organization uses the term dinner ladies three times in an article to refer to school food servers.