TED Conversations

Danielle Simbeck

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

How can we put agricultural/gastronomical programs in schools nationwide?

What if every child in American public schools got to: look at, learn about, grow and cook their own food at school? What of this were an integral part of a public education?
Many schools are already adopting programs that include gardening and cooking classes, such as Ann Cooper's program in Berkeley schools, and programs that specifically focus on bringing fresh foods into schools. But what if every public school was on track to in the next several years independently produce all te food necessary to sustain the students while they're at school?
Our food culture would shift dramatically if kids were interested in who grew the best celery stalks for the lunchtime meal instead of which kid could eat the most Cheetos in one go.
Ann Cooper brilliantly said "8-year-olds don't get to decide [what they eat] and if they do, you [the adult] should be in therapy."
I was born in 1988, and my parents lived by this. They put good foods on my plate, and I was eating them...or I wasn't eating. The summertime meant a break from school, and an increase in my time spet outside - gardening to grow the foods that my family would eat for the upcoming winter months. How many young parents do we see these days who are doing that with confidence and pride? Not the majority. I think that can change. And I think that schools can directly effect the integration of this mentality back into our culture. Making a nation-wide paradigm shift starts with the children, right?

+2
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Jun 27 2012: Ask Jaime Oliver. I seem to remember that he did it. At least I think he did a TED talk and won a TED prize for trying.
  • Jun 2 2012: You have a great idea, but to accomplish anything in schools nationwide is virtually impossible. The US cannot even agree to teach literacy. Too many conflicting & competing interests. (Someone would find eggplant suggestive, & there you have it! All those viney things would be banned.) It's a tragedy, an abomination, & an embarrassment, but education in the US is a political football. What could happen is that individual states, school districts, or schools could have such programs. This is happening on a small scale now, & hopefully it will grow.
  • thumb
    Jun 2 2012: Oh Danielle, I share your frustration!

    There are 7 billion people in the world - 1 billion are starving, but 1.6 billion are obease. It's a modern day crime against the next generation.

    In his TV series, Jamie Oliver showed a class of Junior School kids what went into a "Turkey Twizzler" - a product marketed as "kids food" in the UK. It was junk - the skin, fat, bone and offel + extra salt, preservatives and flavours - all rendered into a mash, reshaped into a drumstick shape and wrapped in breadcrumb. Needless to say the kids looked sick. Perhaps it won't kill a kid - but why do we have to feed our children the worst food?

    School food should be of the highest quality - fresh, local, seasonal - a mix of veg, herbs, salad, fruit, nuts, beans, pulses, lentals, carbs, fish and organic meat in moderation. It's not difficult! It's good for health, brain function, energy levels, behaviour, the local economy... moral!

    I was a kid in the 1970's - when the UK suffered from hyper-inflation - every week my mother was shocked at the cost of her food bill - rather like now. We were a normal family, for the time, with my dad being the wage earner and my mother a housewife, so she had the time to cook real food. She kept chickens, a veg patch and bees. My sister and I came home for lunch each day, as many kids did at that time. My dad did as well, so we ate round the dinner table as a family. We all ate the same meal - no special kids menu. Looking back, they were fresh, seasonal and well balanced. I was so lucky having a stay at home mum. And you're right, if your plate wasn't clean - their was no pudding (and mum made great puddings!).

    Women's lib was a great and necessary thing - but I can't help feeling family life is all the poorer for the fact that families need two incomes just to pay the bills today.