Archive for August, 2011

Back to the Food Fight

Monday, August 8th, 2011

In my younger, single years while working as a product developer for a flavour company, one of the projects I developed was a “juice” drink composed of: 75% sugar, 5% juice powder (of which 50% was maltodextrin), tri-calcium phosphate (to prevent clumping), gums as thickeners, citric acid,  and colour etc. etc.   It addressed all the needs from a beverage perspective: it tasted good, quenched the thirst, it was affordable and very profitable for our client.  Not too proud of it’s nutritional aspect, but this “drink” eventually became a best-seller across a third world country.

More than a decade following that job, with young family in the picture – I try to make all our meals from scratch and I started a business venture that aim to provide more natural and value-added food ingredients.     Even in my own household, it has not been an easy voyage. As soon as my kids learned their colours, they have put up quite the resistance to their consumption of vegetables.     The food fight continues! I resorted to stealth health cooking i.e. adding cauliflour puree to the baked macaroni, spinach in the pesto, chia seeds in their pancakes, quinoa flour in the banana bread etc. etc.  to add enough fibre and nutrients into their meals.    The good news is that they are quite fond of fruits and though they would hate to admit it, they have picked up a few favourite veggies that they are happy to munch on.

It seems not a lot of people know what healthy food really means.     Is pizza a healthy lunch?   Can french fries count as a vegetable?   A typical lunch program often includes pizza lunches every week of the entire school year.        Adding “fruit juice” gummies as their idea of a nutritious desert, does not cut it.     The banning of nuts from schools and other children’s programs in Canada has also created an unhealthy reception for most kids – the idea that eating nuts are bad for you, whether you have allergies or not.    Ontario schools have started to change their ways, somewhat.   The government of Ontario has issued their guidelines for the coming schoolyear.   More details can be found here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/Appendix150.pdf            However, It does not come close to what the French public schools have, but it is a start.

The schools in France have been remarkable in their provision of a school lunch.    The children in the French public school system are provided a 5 course meal everyday.  Not only are the kids taught the value of enjoying their lunch,   they are also accorded ample time to savour it (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1969729,00.html ).         Our Canadian schools allot about 20 minutes for our kids to lap up their meals before they are hurried out the door.     An article that came out last year in the Harvard Mental Health Letter suggests that eating slowly may help you achieve a feeling of fullness (http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605).    It also helps explain why most resources for losing weight would recommend you to slowly chew your food. The theory is that, if you eat your food too fast, you do not give enough time for your brain to realize that you are full. Do you still wonder why there is a growing incidence of obesity in children?

While kids may eat a not-so-healthy meal at school, it is up to us parents and guardians to make sure that our children are introduced to healthier choices at home.      To have a decent breakfast before they go off to school and a balanced dinner before they retire to bed.   While I may not pack a 5 course school meal for my kids, it is certainly close to gourmet.

Other related posts:
A Chef’s Guide to Healthier, Kid-Friendly Foods
http://www.foodproductdesign.com/articles/2011/07/a-chef-s-guide-to-healthier-kid-friendly-foods.aspx

French Week: On School Lunches
http://www.idlewords.com/2003/03/french_week_on_school_lunches.htm


It’s Good Business To Have Healthy Customers

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Classic school lunch. Yum.Jillian Michaels, “TV’s toughest trainer” appearing on the hit show The Biggest Loser, recently interviewed Jamie Oliver for EverydayHealth.com. It’s hard not to know about Jamie Oliver, the chef who waged war on American obesity in ABC’s Food Revolution. Jamie tyied to teach America why we needed to learn to cook, and to care about what we are feeding our children.  Working in the food industry, one item that caught our eye was Jamie’s assertion that it’s good business to promote healthy foods:

Big stores in America are trying to do the right thing, and bring more fresh food, to more people for a fair price. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to make change. Big business has to decide that it’s good business to have healthy customers. And we can help them do that by making different choices. If you stop buying processed foods, they will stop selling them.

We recommend you read the entire interview for more insights and why we need to change the way we cook and feed our kids: Jamie Oliver on the Fight for Healthier Food.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ben+Sam