October 16 is World Food Day and with its passing, I have had time to reflect on the changes we’ve seen in consumer eating habits over the last 17 years.
Thousands of people come through the doors of Cookery School at Little Portland Street each year. With good home cooking skills lost over the generations, we aim to arm people with confidence in the kitchen, knowing they can go home and replicate the food that they have learnt during their time with us. After all, by learning how to cook, people can take control of what they eat.
That’s why we’re welcoming this year’s theme for World Food Day: Healthy diets for a zero-hunger world. It shines a light on the importance of moving back towards preparing meals at home, instead of relying on ‘convenient’ alternatives, which can make up an unhealthy diet.
In the UK, we are fortunate that we can easily access local and seasonal ingredients, with supermarkets increasingly offering these alternatives to shoppers. The rise of farmers’ markets have also assisted in bringing good, local produce into London. In our quest to promote home cooking and healthy eating, we have always used the best possible ingredients and cooked them simply so that the resulting food is delicious. We have steered away from additives and preservatives and used methods that are easy and healthy. We use salt where needed as a flavour enhancer, but what we use is just a drop in the ocean compared to those in fast and preserved foods.
The fact that the UK now has foodbanks is a sad fact. This really ought not to happen. With the amount of food that is wasted daily, there is no excuse for anyone going hungry. However, thanks to several companies like Olio, City Harvest, Too Good to Go and Karma, leftover food from supermarkets and other major outlets is recycled and repurposed. We can only hope this develops even further!
That said, we still have a long way to go. The amount of domestic food waste that is produced is horrendous. We run a class on waste where we teach people how easy it is to make delicious food using leftovers or typically ‘wasted’ ingredients, including bread, milk and potatoes. For too long, we have simply taken for granted that food is expendable. With the growing environmental crisis across the world, we are having to change our attitude towards food and start valuing it in a new way.
Word Food Day serves us a reminder of how fortunate most of are but that there is still plenty to be done in educating people on healthy diets and moving towards zero hunger.