Three reasons why food literacy is important

This week we attended Recipe for Change, an annual fundraiser in support of FoodShare Toronto’s critical school and childhood nutrition programs.

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Clockwise from top left: Lamesa, Walter Caesar, Wind Up Bird Cafe, George Brown College.

This week we attended Recipe for Change, an annual fundraiser in support of FoodShare Toronto, a non-profit community organization that addresses hunger and food security issues. The delicious event brought together an all-star line-up comprising 30 top chefs from Toronto, 20 VQA wineries and six local brewers — all of whom prepared tasty snacks and beverages for the hungry crowd. Dishes served ranged from a spicy lamb curry from Pukka, to comforting Filipino arroz caldo from Lamesa, to the more adventurous deep-fried frog’s legs from The Palais Royale.

In addition to the amazing food (and even more important), the proceeds went toward FoodShare’s critical school and childhood nutrition programs. FoodShare takes a unique long-term and prevention-oriented approach to hunger and food security issues. One of their priorities is to restore food education in schools in order to promote healthy eating practices from a young age.

So, why is food literacy so important? Here are the top three reasons why we need to integrate food education back into school curriculums:

1. Builds foundation

Because eating habits at a young age can lay the foundation for life-long dietary patterns, it’s essential that children and teens understand where their food comes from, how food impacts their health and how to make informed choices about food consumption.

2. Hands-on experience

Students learn best by way of workshops, field trips, cooking classes and other hands-on activities. FoodShare offers farming opportunities for students through their schoolyard farming project, and their Field-to-Table Schools program focuses on all areas of the food cycle, from ground to consumption. Students can learn basic skills to more advanced ones, including how to grow your own sprouts and how to read and understand food labels.

3. Boosts competency

By learning how to grow food, cook and compost in a fun, approachable and practical way, students become more food- and nutrition-conscious and competent. With this confidence, students can make better dietary choices, prepare nutritious meals for themselves, and avoid future health risks such as obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases.

FoodShare’s programs, which reache over 155,000 children and adults per month in Toronto, include childhood nutrition, hands-on food education, a healthy school cafeteria model, gardening, composting, cooking and urban agriculture. For more information, visit FoodShare Toronto.