When we start a new year, many of us reflect on the past 12 months and think about what we may change (or try to change) in the year ahead.
With the dawn of a new decade and the UK’s departure from the European Union, we should perhaps reflect further and consider all the changes of the past 10 years and what we might do better over the next 10. Sustainability is, of course, the word to be considered seriously by us all.
We have, quite rightly, seen the demise of single-use plastics in many of our schools and the rise of reusable coffee and water cups/bottles but, what else can we do to help create a bigger impact? We need to take a holistic approach. The food we offer and its journey from start to end must be examined more deeply.
It’s not enough to say we use local suppliers – that’s not the biggest question now. We need to consider the food we’re buying, what we’re doing with it and ask the right questions. What’s the effect of using it in bulk on the environment? What packaging is it in? What lorry does it come on and how often? And, above all, do we need to engineer our menus to reduce certain items for the sake of the planet, and not just because of the latest food scare or budget constraints?
We’ve started 2020 with thought-provoking ‘Planet Promise’ trees. Our students declare their promises (not just for the year but for the future) to the planet. What they’ve written really makes you stop and think. We, as key influencers, must do the same. What are our promises and what are we doing on a practical level now?
It’s not enough to say we use local suppliers – that’s not the biggest question now. We need to consider the food we’re buying, what we’re doing with it and ask the right questions
Our zero-waste food concepts are coming to the fore. Banana skin bacon and cold porridge pancakes have become very popular. They may sound alien, even unappetising, but think again. Push boundaries, challenge the norm and above all, be brave in food choices. What are you doing with the cauliflower leaves or butternut squash seeds?
There’s a whole world out there to explore and new ideas to discover, something our children are keenly aware of. They expect nothing less of us too.
What’s the next food fad? We’ve all been involved in some form with Veganuary, but have you heard of Seaganism?
It’s quite simply vegan incorporating seafood – it’s coming down the track and fast. It will no doubt be overtaken by another idea very soon after but that doesn’t mean we can’t be ahead of the game, exploring new food concepts and tastes.
In all of this, our message stays strong. We must educate our children in good nutrition. As we expose our young people to more and more food concepts, we must always ensure they understand and appreciate the balance of food and intrinsic nutritional value required to work, run and play to their full potential. The barriers to this must be broken down. Technology will keep moving forward apace, but it’s not enough for it to only consider dietary issues such as allergens.
It’s essential children learn about the overall balance and benefit of good food and take this understanding into their adult lives. As our tastes and desires for new dining experiences expand into the new decade, accompanied by technology and an ever-competitive playing field, we need to pause and remind ourselves of what’s important here. That’s giving children in our schools the best introduction and understanding of good food, whilst doing our best for the planet at the same time.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that tomorrow’s world depends upon today’s and we must do all we can, and perhaps even more than we thought we could, to ensure it’s a wonderful world for future generations.