Most of us hardly think of cooking as an important part of educating. It tends to be regarded as another of those less important subjects like arts or sports we disregard in favour of ‘real’ education like academic stuff.

However, if we are truly educating young people towards leading independent lives, knowing how to function well both in the world and as an individual, then we also need to educate them towards taking responsibility for their own well being. And the way they eat is part of that.

Although nutrition is part of the curriculum, it is seldom reflected in youngsters’ diet. And in the light of the most recent news probably cooking is a necessary part.

A study has shown that we need to be eating even more fruit and vegetables than the 5-a-day we’re familiar with. This needs to go up to 7-a-day in order to maintain optimum health, to lesson our chances of contracting many familiar diseases and help prevent premature deaths.

I suspect most of us find it hard to process 5 portions within our everyday family routines. We probably spend more time taking care of our technology than taking that kind of care of our diet. And encouraging our kids to be getting the grades rather than cooking.

But, unless you are as dedicated as The Raw Food Family, it is cooking and making meals together from foods in their original state, that helps include fruit and veg in our diet, demonstrating to our children its importance. And teaching our kids to look after themselves, thus taking responsibility for their eating habits, is surely an important part of their education.

No amount of academics can bypass this. We have to practice what we consider important, both in the home and in any institution. So maybe cooking should be a more prominent part of any learning approach.

Our children’s health was certainly part of our home education. So was their nutrition. And although I’m no great cook, in fact I quite loathe it, I had to put that aside and get on with it because I had to practise what I preached; that in order to take responsibility for their own health, they had to understand what it was wise to eat and how to prepare it.

I’m not saying that pizzas, Big Macs and junk food never entered into the equation! But the kids knew the basics enough to recognise how food makes them feel, makes them perform, and reflects in the way they look too, so they could seek a balance. And that’s the reason they came home from Uni sometimes craving for the fruit and vegetables students rarely afford! Their education made them understand that.

For us to show young people how important it is to look after themselves, we need to show them how to prepare and cook a balanced diet. We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to give a reasonable model of how to eat with wisdom and sense.

Surely, surely, it is as an essential part of education as any subject, in fact cooking involves the use of many subjects; maths, English and science included. It is part of their understanding of biology and natural science; understanding their own human requirements the most important subject of all.

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Shana

A South African in France who loves to travel and discover new cultures, is passionate about photography, and who is happiest near the ocean.