|Tesco Farm to Fork Egg Trail|
For me, food is a central part of my approach to parenting. From day one I've tried to teach my girls about where their food comes from. I've invited them into the kitchen to cook with me since they were able to sit up unaided and grasp a spoon. I've helped them grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs. I've taken them to local farms... heck, we've even holidayed on farms. And, I hope I have started to teach them (through example) how to choose a healthy, balanced diet with the occasional yummy treat. But I do understand that not all parents have the knowledge, skills, time, money or inclination to offer the same sort of teachings themselves. The reason why I've struggled with how to approach the news of the Tesco Eat Happy Project and their first phase - the Farm to Fork primary school trails - is that I believe that the rise of the modern supermarket is, at least in part, responsible for the decline in the knowledge and skills about how to grow, choose, cook and explore great ingredients and amazing healthy homemade food.
Despite my concerns, I think there is great value to be had in the Eat Happy Project, particularly the Farm to Fork trails. In their first year, Tesco aim to offer a Farm to Fork tour to 1 million UK primary school pupils - these are school tours of farms, factories and supermarkets up and down the country. In my local area these are largely supermarket tours, which was a little disappointing. That said, I think it is just as important that our children understand the processes and demands of our modern supermarket culture so to me a Tesco store visit could be just as fascinating as a visit to a local vegetable farmer or cattle farmer.
The Farm to Fork farm visits aim to show children where their food comes from and the processes that UK farmers go through to get the food from the farm to the store. Store visits are tailored for each school and each store, depending on the age group and class size. It could involve spending time with the in store baker who will show them how simple ingredients like flour, butter, eggs, sugar and water combine to make bread and pastries. Children may spend some time with the fish monger learning about the different fish and seafood and finding out where they come from. Often, children will be able to go on a trail around the produce sections of the store. They might be asked to find 3 red vegetables, or 3 products from a particular country as a way into discovering more about these ingredients. The trail could also involve going behind the scenes to see how everything is co-ordinated around the store to help build a bigger picture of the long journey their food takes from the farm to their fork.
The second phase of the Eat Happy Project, to be launched later in the year, will involve cookery courses for kids in stores, working with the Children’s Food Trust. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Eat Happy Project unfolds and what it can offer to UK school children - even if it makes a small difference in understanding for more children it could make a long term difference to the nation's food habits. Find out more at eathappyproject.com.