This Week: The knives are out for fast food

PUBLISHED: 11:27 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:27 04 May 2010

Youngsters from Littleport’s Millfield Primary School get to grips with sensible eating and try to identify fruit and vegetables during a special quiz. Picture: SUPPLIED

Youngsters from Littleport's Millfield Primary School get to grips with sensible eating and try to identify fruit and vegetables during a special quiz. Picture: SUPPLIED

FAST-food TV dinners and microwave meals have lifted the drudgery of the kitchen sink. Gone are the days when youngsters sat on the back step shelling peas while dad went to the vegetable patch to dig up the spuds. But youngsters growing up with milk in a

FAST-food TV dinners and microwave meals have lifted the drudgery of the kitchen sink. Gone are the days when youngsters sat on the back step shelling peas while dad went to the vegetable patch to dig up the spuds. But youngsters growing up with milk in a bottle, veg in plastic bags and eggs in a specially designed cardboard box are often unaware of how our food is grown and produced.

For the last two years Littleport-based Cambridgeshire ACRE has been pioneering a Good Food Project encouraging everyone to look at the food they eat and live healthier lifestyles.

Now this county-wide scheme has attracted the attentions of national TV which screened a 15-minute film about its work last night.

LESLEY INNES looks at the project and how it has grown.

TELEVISION food gurus Jamie Oliver, Antony Worrall Thompson and Gordon Ramsey have tempted our taste buds with all manner of fresh produce and fantastic culinary tips.

We have watched as they battle on in their quests to improve the nation's understanding and enjoyment of food and educate us in all matters relating to good wholesome produce.

Yet, despite their efforts, many of us return after a hard day's toil to rustle up a microwaved or boil-in-a-bag dinner.

When we do attempt anything more adventurous, our vegetables come cut into rings or batons and wrapped conveniently in plastic bags and our cuts of meat sit cleanly on lumps of polystyrene.

But for the last two years, Cambridgeshire ACRE's food initiatives co-ordinator, Jack Waterfall, has been working to change our perception of mealtimes and promote a healthy balanced diet.

The county-wide Good Food Project was launched in 2004 and is funded by East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust along with its opposite numbers in Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire and the three district councils.

It serves the communities of Littleport, Ramsey, Ramsey St Mary, Benwick, Cambourne and Huntingdon.

The project aims to encourage all age groups to review the food they eat in a bid to help prevent diet-related health problems.

Health experts are reminding us constantly that diet has been proved to be a contributory factor in heart disease and some cancers.

The Good Food Project includes the promotion of allotment use, the development of school food gardens, demonstrating how to select a balanced diet from various sources and teaching food preparation from scratch.

Littleport's Millfield Primary School has taken part in the initiative which also helps to develop communication skills, improve decision-making, use maths and learn extra science.

Now the project has attracted the attention of Teachers TV - a low-cost digital television package designed for education professionals across England.

The network screened a 15-minute film last night to showcase what has become known at the Hunts for Good Food Project.

It was shot by Flashback Television on the Oxmoor estate in Huntingdon earlier the year.

Children at St John's Little Learners Nursery are shown harvesting vegetables and preparing them for lunch followed by a Ready Steady Lunch session with parents.

"This is typical of the type of work we're doing with schools and it has won backing from a wide range of organisations including the county council," said Jack.

"Locally Hunts for Good Food is valued by community workers, health workers and teachers as a practical tool they can call on to use in their own health promotion work.

"One of our aims is to develop more discerning consumers at all ages by improving basic cooking skills in an attempt to destroy the myth that convenience food is always convenient."

Now Cambridgeshire ACRE is seeking continuation funding for 2006-07 and beyond.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Let us know what you think about the nation's eating habits? Are you happy with the standard of school dinners at your child's school? Do you know a school super cook? Write to: The editor, The Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS or email: debbie.davies@archant.co.uk

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