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The Heart of Good Food
by Sudha Hamilton
Published in Holistic Bliss Magazine Vol 18.
Great things are starting to happen within our communities to do with nutrition and food as medicine. We are starting to see in quite a few select schools, driven by proactive parents on the P & C committees, the establishment of permaculture veggie gardens and their linking to school canteen menus. Of course we watched Jamie Oliver on TV, start a desperately needed revolution in British school canteens, where the fare on offer, was in true British culinary style “the pits.” Closer to home we have Stephanie Alexander’s School Kitchen Garden Project and the Kitchen Garden Foundation, which has close to one hundred schools in Australia now participating. The aim of this program is to create pleasurable food education for young children, with the belief being, that through this holistic association we can positively influence our children’s food choices in ways that have not been tried before.
“A Kitchen Garden is created to provide edible, aromatic and beautiful resources for a kitchen. The creation and care of a Kitchen Garden teaches children about the natural world, about its beauty and how to care for it, how best to use the resources we have, and an appreciation for how easy it is to bring joy and wellbeing into one’s life through growing,harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal produce.” (quote from kitchengardenfoundation.org.au)
I am about to start at the Montville Primary School, here on the sunshine coast hinterland, as a supplier of healthy food services to their P & C run tuckshop. They have already established their own permaculture kitchen garden and I will be making use of this in my weekly menus for the school canteen. Although not directly involved with the Kitchen Garden Foundation, many of us who are involved have been inspired by it to create our own thing for our kids at the school.
It is important to realise, I think, that the free market, through its expressions in our marketplaces – fast food operations in shopping centres and on main roads; TV and Internet advertising; and even school programs in some instances – is constantly sending a message to our children encouraging them to consume its products and they are not overly concerned with the nutritional value of their fare. It is simply about making more money. So we cannot just sit back and let things run their course without endangering the health and future health of our kids. That is why programs such as the Kitchen Garden Foundation are so important.
Moving from schools to hospitals, finally something is about to be done about the appalling absence of nutritional standards in our hospital kitchens. It has always amazed me that food has not been considered part of the healing process in our hospitals – which is of course a direct result of their complete reliance on the pharmaceutically controlled medical establishment. Again as there was no money to be made from selling nutrition, then they did not particularly bother with it. The Garling Inquiry in NSW, recently found that elderly patients were literally starving in hospitals and suffering from malnutrition – due to the parlous state of hospital food and nurses claiming that they did not have the time to monitor whether the patient had or could consume the meal provided.
Hospitals will now be forced to show that they are actively preventing malnutrition from occurring or risk their accreditation. The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards will now include a nutritional standard in its Evaluation and Quality Improvement Program and it will apply to 1200 public and private hospitals around the country. So there is now less chance that you will die in one of our hospitals – gotta be good news! Perhaps Masterchef will run its next series out of Royal Brisbane Hospital or even Nambour Hospital.
Eating good food and taking the time to eat well is vitally important to maintaining our health. It is not just what you eat but also how you eat it, which makes a big difference to our well-being. Eat joyously in celebration of life and don’t eat anxiously concerned about your health. Cook your own food as much as you can and if you cannot cook, learn how to – it can be fun and you will meet lots of great people in the process. Bon appétit!
Sudha Hamilton is The Sacred Chef www.sacredchef.comand cooks, writes and teaches here on the sunshine coast.
Kitchen Garden Foundation –http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org
Garling Inquiry –http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/2008/20080125_00.html