Monday, February 27, 2006

NYT Op-Ed: Food at School

This Op-Ed piece by Alice Waters appeared in the New York Times on Friday. Her program, the Edible Schoolyard, is different from Urban Sprouts in many ways, but the core is the same: through school garden experiences, young people are inspired to make real changes in their eating behaviors.
IT'S shocking that because of the rise in Type 2 diabetes experts say that the children we're raising now will probably die younger than their parents — the result of a disease that is largely preventable by diet and exercise. But in public schools these days, children all too often are neither learning to eat well nor to exercise . . .

[At the Edible Schoolyard] we're not forcing [children] to eat their vegetables; we're teaching them about the botany and history of those vegetables. We're not scaring them with the health consequences of their eating habits; we're engaging them in interactive education that brings them into a new relationship with food. Nothing less will change their behavior . . .

. . . when a healthy lunch is a part of a class that all children have to take, for credit — and when they can follow food from the garden to the kitchen to the table, doing much of the work themselves — something amazing happens. The students want to taste everything. They get lured in by foods that are beautiful, that taste and smell good, that appeal to their senses. When children grow and prepare good, healthy food themselves, they want to eat it, and, what's more, they like this way of learning.

We need a revolution, a delicious revolution, that will induce children — in a pleasurable way — to think critically about what they eat.

—Alice Waters