How food literate are you?

WE all know that we should eat five serves of fruit and vege every day. You probably know that the bucket of hot chips you’re about to gorge aren’t great for your cholesterol levels. And there’s probably a little voice in your head telling you that your diet lacks fish, fresh fruit and wholegrains.
But knowing all this doesn’t make you food literate.

A Queensland university professor believes all highschool children should be taught compulsory home economics classes. But not home ec like I was taught – hamburgers, macrame pot holders and pizzas – home ec that gives kids the tools to eat and prepare healthy food.

An education that makes them food literate. But what exactly is food literacy?Food literacy is about cultivating an understanding of food from the ground up.It’s about putting the theory into practice. Harvard University runs a Food Literacy Project (FLP) which teaches students about sustainability, nutrition, food preparation and community. Students are encouraged to think about, and understand, where their food comes from. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart.

Before meeting and marrying a vegtetable farmer I gave little thought to the origin of the fresh fruit and vegetables I bought at the supermarket. Milk came from the milk section, fruit from the fruit display and meat from the butchers. That’s really about the sum total of my thought processes – yes I am embarrassed to admit this.

Now I’m a born again vegetable preacher. I witness first-hand the hard work, risks and toil that are involved in growing fresh produce. Well okay, I’m not actually out there doing the hard yards, tilling the soil – but my husband is and I get to live the lifestyle too … by default.

Anyone who tells you farming is a lifestyle career is either not doing it right, or has lost their marbles. Lifestyle, myshstyle. What a load of bollocks – when the season’s on, the work goes from dawn to dusk and then some. The financial risks are great and the list of things which can go wrong is extensive.

So I’m all for people thinking and caring about where their food comes from. Access to fresh produce is a luxury and it’s one we should fight damn hard to protect. I believe one of the best ways to protect our fresh food industry is to educate our kids about just what goes into growing safe, reliable produce. Let’s teach them to be food litereate. Read more about Professor Donna Pendergast’s plans to make food literacy part of the National Curriculum.