I don't like talking politics. There's always a bunch of people who disagree with me, and of those people at least one of them is going to be loud and obnoxious about how wrong they think I am.
However, this week I was treated to two interesting facts, brought to my attention separately by two different people. One brought to my attention by another Blogger, was a diagram of what foods the government provides subsidies (i.e. cash incentives) for farmers to produce, versus the recommended daily allowance food pyramid. Read the comments, if you dare... there's a rabid vegan vs. omnivore debate, but in them, you'll still find a kernel (har har) of truth: That what the government subsidizes is almost the exact opposite of what we need to eat to be healthy.
The other item, interestingly, was brought to my attention by Roger Ebert via his twitter feed. He sent a link to a presentation by Food Network's Jamie Oliver on TED. It's forty minutes long, but it is well worth it. Our country is shamefully ignorant about food... not just what is healthy, but how to cook it. Grade school children couldn't tell a potato from a tomato. This kind of ignorance is not only leading to obesity in America, but downright waste of money. I was shocked to learn that a lot of people eat fast food and restaurant food MORE than they cook at home. Are you kidding me? No wonder we are a nation in debt.
Putting all that information aside, lack of education about food affects everyone... if you don't know what a fresh vegetable is by looking at it, you won't buy it. If you won't buy it, the store stops carrying it. If the store stops carrying it, the farmer stops growing it, and turns to growing something he can make money at... like subsidized crops. And I think we have enough High Fructose Corn Syrup in the world already, thank you very much.
They have stopped teaching Home Economics in High Schools. I don't know about you, but that was where I first learned to boil pasta. Sure, I learned a few things from my grandmother, but I still remember Mrs. West and her awesome class. If every working family in the US is too busy to cook, because they're holding down two jobs and tired all the time, where will our children learn to feed themselves? A whole generation will go without the smell of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning, or an awesome chicken and dumplings on a Monday night. I can't live without spinach dip, but you can bet there are kids all over the country whose parents won't make it because they grew up hating the green, slimy version of spinach from a can.
Jamie Oliver says this in his presentation and I agree: Every child, before they leave home, should know how to make five home-made, inexpensive dishes that do NOT come from a can or a paper bag. I can think of three just sitting right here, and yes, they are foods they would eat.
For the next few weeks, I will outline some simple, economic meals. I hope you will teach them to your kids.