Just Cook for Kids Week 4 Notes

4.1 Basic Concept: Growing a Kitchen Garden

Maya emphasized how good home-grown fruit and vegetables are, and how easy it can be, and how children who are involved in growing their own food tend to make better dietary choices.

4.2 Guest Appearance: Rita Botini – Growing a Kitchen Garden

We were encouraged to grow herbs such as basil, thyme and so on. Maya and Rita made it sound easy but I have never had very much success with gardening so far. One thing Rita did that I hadn’t seen before was to cover the pot in clingfilm to simulate greenhouse conditions until the shoots show through. So I will try again to develop my green fingers 🙂

4.3 What does Organic mean?

Maya emphasised that ‘Natural’ has no specific definition and mustn’t be confused with ‘Organic’ which is mandatorily defined as containing no synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, genetically engineered crops, or ‘sewage slops’ What? I have never heard of ‘sewage slops’ being used in growing food! Does that mean human sewage?! I am shocked. I hope that is an American thing and that the UK is more strict. I will have to investigate that…

4.4 Basic Concept: What does ‘locally grown’ mean?

Maya mentioned that ‘locally grown’ should mean within 100-400 miles, but I’m not sure whether that is a mandatory definition. The best way to be sure that something is locally grown is to buy from farmers or at farmers’ markets. Advantages of buying locally grown include the fact that less travelled food will be fresher and have a lower carbon footprint. Food bought in season is also usually cheaper than imported, out-of-season fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. And then where the money goes was considered: a $1 to a big corporation goes towards overheads and owners/ shareholders with a small percentage going to employees and an even smaller proportion to the farmers. Whereas a $1 at a farmers market goes straight to the farmers which supports the local economy.

4.5 Focus Point: Healthy people = healthy planet

Modern methods of raising meat are very bad for the environment. Grass-fed, organic, traditionally raised meat is a closed loop system, where the sunlight feeds the grass, the cows eat the grass, and the cows’ manure fertilises the grass. Modern American methods, where the cows are stalled (in a ‘CAFO’) en-masse and fed corn (which is not good or natural for them, but is cheaper! But the corn is also grown using fossil fuels) has an enormous environmental cost overall. Even the manure, which in the natural system is a perfectly helpful component, becomes a problem. And then, due to living in such unnaturally close quarters, CAFO cows are subject to more diseases requiring more antibiotics. 80% of antibiotic use in the US is used on cattle.

The conclusion was to limit red meat in your diet, preferring lean meat instead, and choose more veg. But I would say rather, choose grass-fed organic red meat.

4.6 Focus Point: Sustainable Eating

Going on from the previous videos, it was mentioned the deleterious effect of pesticides and fertilisers which are not only troublesome in the right amounts, but they are generally overused to the extent that excess runs off the fields and ends up in the water and when it runs into the sea it creates dead zones where there is not enough oxygen to support marine life. I had heard of these ‘dead zones’ but I had no idea that they were created by pesticides and fertilisers. Very sobering.

4.7 – 4.9

Three recipes this week: a basic, interchangeable soup recipe, basic how to cook fish (using a mayonnaise-based sauce or other ‘marinades’) and steaming vegetables with a basic white sauce.

The course videos are here, but the optional videos aren’t included. I’m not sure if they are available elsewhere, but they are very good and thorough and would be of interest to anybody with a serious interest in Nutrition.

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