I read some shocking statistics in The Times the other day under a heading called ‘Food for Thought’. So shocking in fact that I cut out the little panel and brought it home to share with you.
Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) sponsored an online survey of people in the UK between the ages of 16 and 23. Here is what they discovered:
- 59% of young people didn’t know that butter came from cows
- 33% didn’t know that eggs come from hens (11% thought they came from wheat or maize)
- 36% did not know that bacon came from pigs
Now, after reading this – and then telling Dubsy about it – we wondered how legitimate this survey really is. If you ask a bunch of bored teenagers to fill out some seemingly easy questions, some of them will intentionally answer the questions incorrectly. They think it’s funny. This seems to be the general reaction to a similar article about the poll in The Telegraph.
Okay, so even if half of the answers that LEAF received were incorrect, the numbers are still incredibly high. It’s scary to think that you could reach the age of 23 and now know where the food you eat – probably on a daily basis – comes from. I’m 24 years old and I can’t remember ever questioning where an egg comes from.
One of my first memories at my aunt’s farm was going out to collect eggs from the hens. I went to several farms (slash petting zoos) on field trips in school and became very familiar with each animal’s role, not only in sustaining us but also as part of a working farm. I turned my hand at churning butter – it’s a lot of work! – when we had an ‘old fashioned day’ when I was about six. I learned how people lived off the land before all the modern equipment made it less of a back-breaking job.
Now it seems people think eggs come from a field of wheat and bacon comes from Tesco. Whether it’s a joke or sheer ignorance, it’s a statistic that really made me think. What happened to the types of school trips I used to go on that were meant for educating the young about the importance of sustainability and maintaining tradition and looking after the animals that provide the food we eat and jobs for farmers? I loved them and I especially loved the animals.
It seems the only trips kids are interested in going on now are to Alton Towers so they can ride the rollercoaster.
Whose responsibility is to ensure children know where their food is coming from? Does it fall on the parents, the school, the media? LEAF is making a great effort, holding events like Open Farm Sunday (there is one at Burwash Manor today!) so that children have the opportunity to visit a real working farm.
Legitimate or not, I hope reading about this survey in the newspaper or hearing it on the radio has inspired some parents – or teachers, or caregivers – to discuss where food comes from with their kids. Or even their teenagers, if the statistics above can be taken as a true indication of the lack of knowledge in this area between 16-23 year olds!
In other news involving children and food, have you seen (or heard about) Martha Payne’s blog NeverSeconds? It’s caused quite a media stir over here and this girl is amazing. Martha started a blog with her father documenting her school lunches and included details about their price, health rating, taste, and even the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat them.
Dubsy has been educating me about how school lunches work in the UK since they are nothing like what I experienced at school. Most schools here provide a hot meal for their students at lunch time paid for by parents, either daily or in advance. Though the students don’t always have to eat this and could bring food from home, I can’t imagine too many parents would want to go to the trouble of preparing a lunch for their child when £2 will get them a hot, (supposedly) filling meal to get them through the day.
Some of the lunches on Martha’s blog look like they wouldn’t sustain anyone for an entire afternoon of learning.
Martha’s local council got very angry that information about what their school children were eating at lunch was suddenly made public. People working in the kitchen apparently feared for their jobs and the school told Martha that she couldn’t take any more pictures of her meals. I originally thought they’d missed a trick – the publicity would have been a fantastic way to overhaul the menus in schools and provide better options and it would have made the council look great. It seems like this is now going to happen, though, with the help of chef Nick Nairn.
Martha saw something she didn’t approve of – even at the tender age of ten years old – and began to spread the word about it. She’s started a great movement for change in school cafeterias in her local area and perhaps all of the UK! She’s a food hero and is definitely an inspiration to us all.
Did you visit farms as a kid on school trips?
What’s the craziest statistic you’ve ever heard?
Did your school provide a lunch for you when you were a kid?
Don’t forget to suggest some challenge ideas for my Slimkicker contest! You can win a very snazzy digital food scale for your kitchen!