The case for food education

Today’s guest blog comes from Barny Haughton, Founder, Director and Cookery Teacher at Square Food Foundation, based in The Park, Knowle.

Photo credit: Sustainable Food Trust

If we want healthy and resilient communities and healthy and resilient food systems, we need a food educated society. And that means getting food education into schools and into the community.

Most people in the developed world are not responsible for and have no say in any aspect of the food system except eating – and maybe – cooking it. Food ‘education’ and the responsibility for how food is produced from soil to plate has been the default remit of the food industry.

But we are finally discovering the real significance of where our food comes and why some foods are better for the environment than others and about the relationship between diet and physical and mental health. We are discovering that learning how to cook well is often the first step to eating well. And that learning how to cook is a gateway to a world of knowledge, confidence and empowerment beyond just a life skill and healthier eating. It connects individuals, families and communities in the most obvious and brilliant ways. It brings an understanding about the bigger food landscape and our place in it. 

So now is the time to look beyond the kitchen and at the bigger picture. Covid-19 has shown on the one hand the fragility of a globally evolved and globally dependent food system and on the other the potential for local communities to transition towards systems which are less fragile, more responsive – and systems which are understood by, and the responsibility of, ordinary people.

Food education in schools…

Imagine what a generation of school leavers who had learned about the world of food would contribute towards this transition

What would food studies in schools mean?

Food education is not just about cooking and nutrition

It means the study of everything to do with food:

  • Agriculture, production, climate, environment, natural history
  • History, tradition, politics, law, economics,
  • Culture, religion, ethics
  • Science, ecology, waste, medicine, disease
  • Identity, literature, art
  • Public health, nutrition, diet, personal health
  • Cooking, taste, eating, tradition

And in the community…

For the past ten years Square Food Foundation has been delivering cookery and food education programmes to people from all walks of life. I have personally been working in food education for the past thirty years. And I absolutely know that it is a critical part of the solution to the challenges which face us all – in our communities and in the world. Square Food is currently working in partnership with Oasis Connaught Primary School in Knowle West on a whole school curriculum integrated food education project which involves teachers, parents, whole families as well as the children. Schools and community working together.

We believe that food education is key to the principles of social democracy and food systems resilience and that it should be central to education itself, to the life of every school, on the national curriculum, in the minds of government policy makers.

Without food education we will never substantially reduce food poverty. And with it we can solve many of the biggest problems facing humanity.

Imagine an Environment Minister with a Masters in Gastronomic Sciences

It’s time to get food education into schools, into the community and into government policy.

If you would like to find out more about the work and aims of the Square Food Foundation you can contact them via:

0117 903 9780

Insta: @SquareFoodFoundation

Twitter: @squarefood

Facebook: @squarefoodfoundation