The Jamie Oliver Foundation is launching its first-ever Food Revolution Day on Saturday, May 19. It’s a global day of action designed to inspire, educate and empower people everywhere to stand up for real food. Thousands of people worldwide will participate in events to raise awareness on preventing diet-related diseases, and to arm people with the knowledge and tools to make healthier food choices.
How to Participate in Food Revolution Day
Participants can visit foodrevolutionday.com to find and create local food events where they can share skills and knowledge about food with their community through cooking classes, gardening tutorials, sessions about starting a food blog and tours of farmers markets. At the site, people can also sign up to host a dinner party and even request to bring food education to their school or workplace. Already, more than 800 groups from 45 countries have signed up to take action.
In Vaughan, Ont., Petits Chefs Academy and Active Together Vaughan will host two workshops at the cooking school for kids and families. Petit Chefs is the Vaughan Ambassador for the Food Revolution. We had the opportunity to speak to Denise Livotti, owner of Petit Chefs, and learn more about kids, food and Food Revolution.
Q: What is Petit Chefs?
A: I was sitting at the table enjoying a home-cooked meal with my husband one night in January 2011, and we had an epiphany: A lot of kids don’t eat home-cooked meals. Life is so busy. Families have lost their connection to food. We have the connection to fitness down pat, but not the one to food. Active kids can be thin but unhealthy. There has to be a bridge between the kids learning the life skills about cooking and external messages about food. The school system needs to get the kids outside in the world, like in a community garden, working for the food, learning about it, and where it comes from.
Also, both myself and my daughter had some health problems, and I wanted to be more aware of food, be focused on what and how we were eating.
Q: So, a lot of the schools are trying by banning treats and sugary snacks. Is that the way to go?
A: There has to be healthy life balance. You have to allow treats once in a while, for sure. But, there is the limit. What if there were five birthdays in a week in the classroom. But really it’s up to the parents. They need to be educated, and then that knowledge will trickle down progressively into the schools. The schools don’t have proper kitchens or tools. The food in the high schools is atrocious.
Q: What do you really think is causing our problems with food?
A: North American lives are so hectic, and that’s what’s causing kids to eat improperly. Here, it’s fast and food is more for fueling the body than connecting with family and friends. In Europe, eating is social and fun. A meal is an event, the food is local and everyone in the family shares in the preparation in some way.
Q: What can parents do?
A: If we don’t stop and do the work now, our kids and grandkids are going to suffer. I hear a lot of “we want to feed our kids healthy but we don’t know how or don’t have time.” Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult. Food can be fresh and simple-that’s the best tasting.
Q: How did you get involved with Food Revolution?
A: I went to see Jamie Oliver in Toronto. I’d been following him on Twitter, and I sent him some gifts backstage at the show. He thanked me in front of the audience. After that, I realized that we both have similar passions: for gardening, cooking at home , and real food. I totally agree with him that the situation with regard to food in the schools has to change. Really, my inspiration for the business was him. After that event, I connected with the Food Revolution team and they offered me the opportunity to be the the local Ambassador.
Q: What will be happening at your Food Revolution event?
A: The kids will be cooking with two of our senior chefs, 10- and 11-year-olds who have taken classes with us and who have a passion for food. Parents will enjoy guest speakers on the effect of food on the body ad brain, composting, holistic nutrition and going gluten-free. We really wanted to connect the event to Mental Health Month.
Q: If you could say one thing to people, what would it be?
A: Get back into the kitchen with your kids. Together, learn how to cook real food. Don’t just focus on their physical fitness. Focus also on what’s going into their bodies.
When it comes to food, balance happens when you lean more to the healthy side than the unhealthy side. It’s okay to have fast food—sure, it tastes great. But it’s not for everyday.
If you’d like to learn more about healthy eating, balance or connecting to food, you can got to the Petit Chefs website: www.petitchefsacademy.com. Join the conversation on Twitter: #petitchefs or #foodrevvaughan, or on the Petit Chefs Facebook page.
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What will you do to participate in Food Revolution Day? Or what are you already doing at home to make healthier food and lifestyle choices? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.