Talk about in your face.  The last few days I have found myself hit between the eyes with a strong reminder of what an important role food plays in our lives.

Food brings family, friends and neighbours together.  It provides a central point around which we communicate and congregate.  Just think about any gathering of people, and food is inevitably there somewhere.

On another level, food is the fuel for our bodies.  If the fuel is not the best quality, our bodies aren’t running at their peak.  Sure, they’ll still run, but not optimally and if we continue to put sub standard fuel into our bodies, ultimately they will break down.  The break down may be minor and able to be fixed easily.  Or, it could be major resulting in a shortening of our life or worse, causing the end of it.

The stark reality of the sub standard fuel many of us are putting into our bodies was where I got hit between the eyes.  Two separate media pieces coincided in the last few days with exactly the same frightening message.  One was from the other side of the world; the other was right on my own doorstep.

Firstly, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution aired in Australia on Friday night for the first time.  Ironically it was scheduled right after Masterchef.  One show is all about mastering the skill of cooking while the other is just trying to get people to cook.

Earlier this year, Jamie Oliver spoke at TED (a small, but powerful, non profit organization in America devoted to ideas worth spreading).  His wish was…”to help a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again, and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity”.  Below is his speech to the TED community, a must watch for everybody.

So if watching Jamie wasn’t enough to get me thinking, on Monday there was an article in our local paper, The Courier Mail, with the headline “Obesity knocks off smokes as top killer”.  The statistics in this article were frightening.  Here’s just a few:

  • 55.3% of the population is overweight or obese (this figure is projected to hit 65% by 2020)
  • 25% of Queenslanders aged 5 to 17 are overweight or obese – an increase of 21% from 3 years ago!
  • Only 9% of people eat enough fruit and vegetables

While these statistics apply to Queensland only, we are seeing similar ones across Australia, United Kingdom and USA – as evidenced in the Food Revolution.  So, not only are we doing unprecedented damage to ourselves, we are hurting our kids too.

One of the main contributing factors is of course food, or more specifically processed, pre-packaged and junk food.   The population as a whole is eating too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of the right stuff.  They are also lacking in skills for cooking real food.

Of course, this does not apply to every person, every family and every child.  Nonetheless, it is something we all need to be aware of and wherever possible ensure we are doing our best to provide our families with the best food we can.  Try cooking new things, sample some new foods, improve your cooking skills and think about food as an all important fuel for your family.

Also, take the time to involve kids in food and cooking.  These are life skills that will greatly enhance their quality of life.

For me, the last few days has provided a reality check.  On the whole my family eats well, but I know we could do better – more vegetables and fewer sweets for a start.

Hopefully this will also inspire you to look a little closer at your family food and see where improvements could be made.  Let’s all endeavor to do our best to fill our families with premium fuel and give them the gift of health.

If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, please leave them below.

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