Children Celebrate Food Day 2013 with Healthy Food Competitions, Classes, and Farm Shares
Getting young people to cook is a major focus of the third annual Food Day, the nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. On October 24th, young chefs-in-training across the country will show off their culinary skills and pick up some new ones in hands-on classes, competitions, and partnerships between schools and local farms.
At home, parents, teachers, and caregivers can involve their families in Food Day 2013 using recipes from the free recipe booklet "20 Recipes to Get Kids Cooking". Created by Food Day culinary director Kate Sherwood, the new booklet aims to make simple, healthy and delicious meals a part of family dinners with recipes for fruit kebabs, Tuscan bean soup, crispy fish tacos, and more.
In New Orleans, students will compete in a healthy-smoothie blend-off at the second annual Food and Fitness Fair. A panel of judges will decide which smoothie is the best. The competition underscores the fair's greater goal to reduce the consumption of soda and other sugar drinks. In Charlottesville, VA, budding chefs will take the mystery out of cooking with the City Schoolyard Garden's Veg-Off. At the Veg-Off, kids will create dishes with a "secret" vegetable ingredient, to be judged (and eaten) by their peers.
Other events include a Healthy Indian Lunch cooking class in Houston, TX, featuring a how-to on making mini butternut squash sandwiches and strawberry lassis, a farm-to-classroom delivery program in California, and a Teen Battle Chef flash mob in New York City hosted by FamilyCook Productions and Dr. Oz's HealthCorps where participants will learn to make a tasty fall recipe featuring mashed pumpkin. From coast to coast, kids will be cooking and learning valuable skills to continue cooking at home.
"The decline of cooking has made America all too reliant on the packaged food and chain restaurant industries, and our kids are paying the price," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which provides national coordination for Food Day. "For some kids, Food Day might be the day they toss their first salad, slice their first onion, or grill their first chicken breast. But we think that when kids discover how much fun cooking actually is, they'll want to keep doing it all year round."
Learning to cook from scratch can help kids set the foundations for good health, according to CSPI. Home cooking can also help families create memories in the kitchen and around the dinner table.
"Cooking with your kids—which leads inexorably to sitting down and eating meals as a family—is one of the simplest yet most powerful steps you can take to improving your family's health and well-being, as well as the health of the entire food system," said Michael Pollan, author and journalism professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who serves on the Food Day advisory board.
Encouraging kids to cook is an aim shared by many of Food Day's national partners, including the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA), Family Cook Productions, HealthCorps, Community Alliance With Family Farmers, Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters, The Food Trust, and Chop Chop Magazine, a quarterly publication that teaches kids to cook.
Food Day is also partnering with Hip Hop Public Health, a program which uses music by stars such as Run DMC's Doug E. Fresh, Ashanti, Travis Barker and Matisyahu to promote healthy habits like staying active and watching calories. The full album of original Songs for a Healthier America is available for free here and on iTunes.
"Inviting children into the family meal-making process sends a powerful message to children about where health begins," said Lynn Fredericks, founder of FamilyCook Productions. "Hands-on cooking is a multi-sensory experience which opens their palate to be adventurous about real food. This is the path to reclaim each individual's independence from outsourcing meals to ensure a healthier future."
Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. It builds all year long and culminates on October 24. Started in 2011, Food Day has grown bigger each year. In 2012, nearly 3,200 Food Day events took place across the country bringing attention to a wide variety of food policy issues, including diet and health, sustainable agriculture, conditions for food and farm workers, animal welfare, and hunger. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) serve as honorary co-chairs of a Food Day advisory board made up of some of the most prominent nutrition authorities, chefs, and health officials in the country.