Monday, 25 November 2013

Cheese comes from Plants and Pasta Comes from Animals

These are among the beliefs held by a substantial percentage of the UK's schoolchildren so states the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). It seems barely within the bounds of belief that children are growing up so divorced from the countryside and without any true knowledge of where their food comes from.


BNF's research involved some 27,500 schoolchildren. Almost one in three of the 5 to 8 year old primary school children involved in the survey were of the view that cheese came from plants, ( perhaps their teacher had plonked a cheese plant in front of them at some stage and told them to draw it!) and more than one in six of the 8 to 11 year olds were proponents of the view that pasta came from animals. I am trying to imagine what animal they think produces raw pasta. Presumably a herbivore?


Lack of basic knowledge was not restricted to younger children, the research reported that ten percent of secondary age children thought that tomatoes grew underground.


How have we come to this pass? The advent and growth of the supermarket and the proliferation of ready meals with the original ingredients processed beyond recognition must bear some responsibility as must the innate laziness of our vacuum packed society. Maybe however it is simply a reflection of our increasing lack of direct personal knowledge of agriculture and food production. I wonder how many of the 27,500 children have a parent or other relative directly involved in agriculture, horticulture or fishing? Precious few I suspect. It would have been interesting to have given the children a tongue sandwich and then queried them on where the tongue had come from - or been!


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