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There’s a picture in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe where Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sitting round a dining table with Mr and Mrs Beaver enjoying a meal. As well as the picture what sticks in my mind is the description of the meal they tucked into. It made an impression on me when I was a child, an impression which remained with me when I became an adult. “….there’s nothing to beat good fresh water fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago. And when they had finished the fish Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot and at the same time moved the kettle on to the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.” It makes my heart feel good just reading this passage.
Descriptions of enticing meals and food are used by authors to create an atmosphere of warmth and security. If descriptions in book of meals can stay with people all their lives, as this one did with me, then imagine the effect that the real thing, or lack of it has on children.
As I am writing this blog my 11 year old daughter has just finished making pancakes for her breakfast. She’s created havoc in the kitchen. There is a sprinkling of sugar round her mouth and she’s asking if she can have some left over curry from the night before for her lunch. Food for a short while dominates her thoughts, as it does many times a day for most of us. Food is important. It’s obvious to say but it is vital to our existence. It is more accurate to say that good food is vital to our healthy existence.
Children need to eat good food, in school and at home. What constitutes ‘good food’ is constantly up for debate but I know that food prepared from primary ingredients is good food, whatever the diet magazines or books tell us at this time of year, whatever the manufacturers of low fat products tell us. And it is time to de-bunk another myth – we do have time to cook. Give it the priority it deserves – your children are worth it.