Cookery School News

From plantation to plate up – something’s missing

Continuing with our food and farming theme – we’ve got a cracking post about world food wastage coming up tomorrow; it will open your eyes, for sure – but today we look at how much knowledge is coming off the farmyard and finding its way into our offspring’s minds. Judging from a recent survey conducted by Linking Environment And Farming, not a fat lot.

We’ve written many articles on about the importance of learning young people to cook. Many leave school with only the knowledge of how to cook ready- or microwave meals, often not even how to be even that resourceful. But this recent survey by LEAF, the food certification body, shows that we perhaps need to start a little further back in the chain if we are really going to bring cookery as a practical skill to our children.

And we’re not talking infants, juniors or senior school aged children, here; we’re talking those in further education and beyond, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. Astonishingly, 3% of those surveyed believed that bacon came off of cows, whilst a third answered something else other than pigs.

Furthermore, the LEAF study of the 2,000 young adults found that less than a half of those questioned knew where butter came from. The picture question showed three pictures: a dairy cow, beef cattle and wheat. Whilst less than fifty percent opted for the dairy cow (25% not even hazarding a guess at all), 8% opted for the beef cattle and 7% – that’s 140 young adults out of 2,000 – believed that butter was obtained from wheat. Incredible. Everyone knows it comes from buttercups!

Wheat is – allegedly – the provider of butter, eggs and steak

Wheat seemed a popular answer, with 10% guessing that eggs came from either it or maize and 12% – that’s nearly one in eight – answered that steak – STEAK for goodness sake – came from wheat, also.

And as for guessing how long crops took to be ready for harvest from plantation, ten percent of the young adults thought that wheat, oats and potatoes would be ready in less than a month. Some fertilizer, that!

In order to address the concern over the survey’s findings, CEO of LEAF, Caroline Drummond, wants to tackle another aspect thrown up by the survey, which is that thirty percent of kids born in the nineties haven’t been to a farm in a decade or more. Yesterday, LEAF held Open Farm Sunday in an attempt to bring the public closer to the food they eat at its root source.  Hundreds of farms across the UK took part in the event and we await figures to see how well received the day was.

If this is the state of farming and food education, perhaps our cookery schools are missing a trick, here? As well as teaching young adults to cook, they could incorporate basic food knowledge, too. With so many cookery classes taking place in farmhouse kitchens, what a wonderful opportunity to educate our children: “from plantation to plate-up“. Bagsy copyright on the name, if anyone takes it up!

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Food apprenticeship scheme announced by government

The Government has recently announced plans to create fifty thousand apprenticeships in the food industry.

Jim Paice, the Agriculture Minister, made the announcement during the launch of a DEFRA backed action plan to encourage more apprenticeships and challenge food businesses to change the way in which young people perceive working in the industry.

The food industry is vitally important to UK growth, contributing £90 billion to the nation’s economy and employing over 3.6 million people. However there is a significant skills shortage throughout the food chain and it is widely acknowledged that industry needs to attract more ambitious and well qualified candidates if it wishes to sustain growth and innovation.

Speaking at a recent event Mr Paice explained that the fifty thousand apprenticeships demonstrate that the industry is serious about establishing itself as somewhere that young people can enjoy fulfilling and skilled careers.

Jonathon Pearson, a former apprentice who now works in the industry, believes that many people don’t necessarily appreciate the career opportunities that are available. Since completing his training, Jonathan has achieved promotion and would strongly recommend the food industry to anybody that is looking for rewarding and challenging career.

The Further Education Minister, John Hayes, explained that apprenticeships are a fantastic way for youngsters to access the high quality training that they require to enjoy successful careers. They are also excellent for UK growth since every pound invested generates a forty pound return.

As part of the action plan the food industry will be promoting the ‘Feed Your Ambition’ message to over sixty thousand youngsters in more than eight hundred schools. Careers in the industry can range from farmers and producers throught the food chain to professional chefs and cookery schools.