Point – Counterpoint


In the seventies 60 Minutes used to have a weekly feature called “Point-Counterpoint.” It was a short debate between two commentators on a hot topic of the week.

That is what we have for you today and on Wednesday. Guest Blogger, Ruth Anslow of the hiSbe, people before profit – how it should be website will debate me on the following question:


Should Schools Be Required to Teach Cooking In the Classroom?

This debate started when I responded to this tweet by Ruth on Twitter:

“Kids don’t recognise basic vegetables or know burgers come from animals. We gotta push to have cooking on the curriculum.”

Over the next 30 minutes or so Ruth and I had a friendly yet spirited debate on this topic.

My position was that cooking was more the responsibility of the home and parents and that schools did not have time nor money to add one more course to the curriculum.

However, I thought this topic deserved more time than the 140 word limit imposed by Twitter. So I asked Ruth if she would like to be a Guest Blogger here at MTTD. She graciously accepted.

Following is Ruth’s Point. I will do the Counterpoint on Wednesday.

When it comes to kids learning about healthy eating, schools should be at the head of the table

There are some things that society does well and there are some things it fails at. Right now, Britain is failing at food. In fact, it’s getting a big fat F minus on a good day!

Over the last 50 years, our food choices and our access to different types of food have skyrocketed.

For people in rich countries, food is cheaper, easier and more convenient today than it has ever been. The problem is that our food knowledge and skills have not kept up with this progress.

The natural human instinct is to chase fat and sugar energy hits and, if food is scarce or difficult to find, this is an effective survival mechanic. However, in a country where most of us now have access to more food than we can ever eat, ironically, the same survival instinct is harming and even killing people. In today’s world, in order to survive, there’s a need to make what we choose to eat a conscious activity, not just a subconscious, instinctive one.

So healthy eating is something we need to learn in order to thrive. It needs to be developed through participative learning, just like learning how to read, do maths and interact with other people. If people don’t learn properly that what you eat has a direct and immediate impact on how you look and feel physically and mentally, then they can’t make informed choices.

This is where Britain is failing at food. We’re not learning healthy eating life skills. Knowing how to eat well, how to choose good food in a store and how to cook it well are life skills and, like any other skill, it’s not something you just know how to do because you’ve seen it on TV.

As with anything that society fails at, that failure is always most noticeable in our kids.

Kids in Britain are eating badly. Dangerously badly.

Just look at the stats from The National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 2009. It surveyed 2,672 young people 4-18 and found that:

92% of children consume more saturated fat than is recommended

86% consume too much sugar

72% consume too much salt

96% do not get enough fruit and vegetables

The consequences of this are clear: right now we are experiencing an alarming rise in childhood obesity. The UK has the highest rate of obesity of all the countries in Europe and one in three children is now overweight or obese. Obesity in kids under 11 has risen by over 40% in only ten years and, if this pace continues, half of children will be obese or overweight by 2020.

Of course obesity brings with it greater risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes and this means shorter lives. If the trend continues, life expectancy in Britain will fall and parents will outlive their malnourished kids.

What’s needed to change this situation is to make our society one that takes healthy eating life skills seriously and helps people to learn how to eat properly. The question is, where does the responsibility to teach our kids about healthy eating lie? With parents, with doctors, with food advertisers, with communities or with schools?

Well they all have a part to play, but of course parents don’t have the healthy eating life skills themselves in order to pass them on to their kids. That’s why we have this problem in the first place.

The learning needs to start with schools. Schools should ensure that every child eats properly at school and receives a real food education.

Some people believe that it’s not up to schools to provide this kind of education; they say that’s not what schools are for.

Well then let’s park the debate about healthy eating for a minute and ponder this question: what is school for? Like anything else, people have different opinions about this…

• Some might say that school is about building society. It’s there to teach kids to relate to each other, to learn about citizenship and right and wrong and to pass on the knowledge and values of society down to the next generation.

• Others may say school is there for kids’ personal development, to help them discover their talents and become the best they can be. It’s about learning for the pleasure of learning and developing emotional intelligence, creativity and self expression.

• Then there are those who say that school is about economics. It’s there to make the obedient employees and consumers of the future, through conformity and rules. It seeks to make kids ready for work and create future leaders and experts that will give the country competitive advantage.

• Finally, you might say that school is there to give kids opportunities, in order to iron out social injustice: that no matter where you are from and what your parents do, you have the chance, through school, to work towards a better life and standard of living.

I’m convinced that, whatever you think school is there for, we can all agree that school is about teaching kids life skills, through participative learning, that equip them to effectively function in the outside world.

In that case I can’t think of anything more important for the school curriculum than healthy eating!

In the end it’s in the school’s interest to act on this issue, because kids who eat too much sugar and fat and lack essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids find it harder to concentrate, to learn and to behave well. These kids perform worse academically, cannot concentrate properly and are more aggressive and distracted at school.

Arguably, there’s no point in learning how to read, write and count if you can’t feed yourself.

Equally, there’s no point in being at school if you’re not in good enough shape to learn anything.

Food needs to come first.


Thank you Ruth for sharing your views. I think readers will agree you state your position very well. Be sure to come back on Wednesday, May 4th for my CounterPoint.

Featured Recipe   Marvelous Mandarin Orange Chicken

This is my version of a recipe I saw in some magazine way, way back in the 1980’s. I do remember the recipe was for a party dish and used bite size pieces of chicken. I did not care for it. It was too bland. It wasn’ that it was so much bland as it was just overly, sickenly too sweet. It had no counterpoint, no contrast in flavors.

So I played around with it and turned it into an entrée and added some butter, onions, and cinnamon.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

3 chicken skinless boneless chicken breasts* 2-3 tablespoons butter

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion

1 – 15 ounce can mandarin oranges

2/3 cup orange marmalade

Salt and pepper to taste

*Or other pieces of chicken you like.

Here is what you do:

Add the olive oil and the butter to a large skillet and heat over low heat till the butter melts.

In meantime chop the onion.

When the butter is melted turn the heat to medium – medium high and add the onions.

Sauté until they are nicely browned. In the meantime salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.

When the onions are browned……………..

…..add the chicken…………………….

………and sauté until the chicken is brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes each side depending on thickness of the chicken..

While chicken is browning drain the oranges and measure out the marmalade.

When the chicken is browned and cooked through  remove it from the skillet and tent it so that it stays warm.

Now turn the heat down and add the marmalade, and the oranges. Also add 1 shake of cinnamon for each piece of chicken and one more for the pot. Don’t add too much cinnamon. You just want a bit of the flavor in the background.

And oh!! the aroma of even that little bit of cinnamon makes the kitchen smell heavenly. Oh YUM!!!

Heat the mixture stirring often until the marmalade is melted.

When melted add the chicken back to the pan and turn to coat all sides in the sauce. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Serve with some rice and a salad. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and the rice.

Look at how pretty and colorful this meal is.

Remember the Eat a Rainbow post I did a short while back? That post dealt with some research that said a healthy diet is a colorful one and that five colors a day is optimal. There are four colors in this meal: orange, green red, and white.

Bon Appetite!!!!


3 chicken breasts                             $2.87

2-3 tablespoons butter                      $0.30

2-3 tablespoons olive oil                    $0.36

1 sweet onion                                  $0.49

15 oz. can mandarin oranges            $0.99

2/3 cup orange marmalade               $1.95

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $6.96

Cost per person = $2.32

Note: Cost reflects just the chicken dish.

Quote of the Day

Laughter is an instant vacation.

Milton Berle


Print Friendly

Comments are closed.