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The Importance of Food Revolution Day

The quality of our food is frequently a cause for concern in the press and amongst nutritionists. A diet of junk food and chemicals is unhealthy and has many implications; obesity, behavioural problems and many health conditions. Food Revolution Day 2015 starts from 15 May, and is being used by Jamie Oliver and Ed Sheeran who have produced a rap with Paul McCartney, Alesha Dixon, Hugh Jackman to highlight the importance of being aware of buying, preparing and eating good quality food.

The Food Revolution Day Campaign is not just about May 15. It aims to educate and highlight the importance of making a commitment to our food being healthy, fresh and nutritious, to reclaim it from the grasp of intensive farming, preservatives, additives, flavouring, colouring and all the other miscellany of ingredients introduced to turn bland, tasteless food into edible, profit-making sales. Then there are the waste products and leftovers that would in the past have been discarded during food production, now seen as a potential profit maker; simply mould them into recognisable shapes, add a little colouring, seasoning, sugar or fat and market them as a tasty dish. The importance of Food Revolution Day is to highlight these practices as unacceptable.

Basic food shopping is another area that Food Revolution Day is looking to address. How many of us really understand what is being offered for sale in our supermarkets? We may read the labels on packaging, try to shop at quality shops, buy products that are recommended as being healthy and nutritious, only to discover that the labelling of some ingredients is misleading, that a high percentage of chicken in supermarkets is contaminated, eggs contain harmful bacteria, fruit and vegetables carry ecoli or have been stored so long that there is virtually no vitamin content left.

Where do we start? Let's look at the importance of Food Revolution Day:

- Catering and food in many families is often rushed, comprising items bought out of familiarity, family members' demands and tastes, convenience of preparation, price. The importance of Food Revolution Day is to highlight the need to be aware of what we actually put into our bodies, to take time to become educated and knowledgable about healthy nutritious food in order to invest in our ongoing quality of life and health.

- Shopping seasonally and locally is often an important first step in becoming more food aware. By eating food that is readily available each season we are more likely to be eating locally sourced fresh food, transported over shorter distances. These foods are less likely to have been sprayed with preservatives, transported overseas, stored in containers on various dock sides or airstrips. By becoming more aware of seasonal cycles in the supply chain, shopping more wisely and demanding good quality food we educate the suppliers. If we refuse to buy sub-standard food the retailers will learn over time what we are prepared to accept.

- Supporting farmers markets is an important part of the Food Revolution Day ethos. They celebrate and sell locally produced food. Fresh meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, fruit, cheese, honey, pies and bread are just some of the produce that these markets often have on sale. Some may be organic, all are produced by suppliers who care about their stock because they live and work in the area. They need to protect their reputation, sell good quality produce, build an established customer base, support their farms.

- Taking the time to learn to cook healthy, nutritious meals introduces a more balanced diet to our families. By teaching children to cook, to enjoy preparing food and learning about what they eat they develop an interest in varying their diet, trying different ingredients, the impact of nutrition on their general health and wellbeing. By reducing the amount of preservatives, additives and chemicals that we all ingest through our food we benefit everyone, most noticeably our children and their health.

An added bonus is that by setting aside time to shop well and prepare our own food it is often less expensive than buying pre-chilled, ready-made meals. And becoming more knowledgable about our food makes the whole eating experience more interesting. Learning enough to teach our children to have a healthy interest in food, to learn to cook, choose menus, and be interested in nutrition, to become involved and enthusiastic about food and where it comes from all result in us becoming more authoritative about what we eat and consequently refusing to accept sub-standard food. All part of the agenda for Food Revolution Day.