Potatoes New Zealand is coming under the international spotlight for its groundbreaking initiatives promoting healthy eating choices to children and young people.
Glenda Gourley, Potatoes New Zealand’s Marketing and Education Consultant, will address international delegates at the World Potato Congress in Edinburgh in May about the organisation’s successful campaigns encouraging young people to cook and eat healthily.
“We are doing really unique work in New Zealand and it has created considerable interest internationally,” said Glenda. “We get a lot of inquiries from around the world about how we engage and educate parents and children.”
Potatoes New Zealand has focused strongly on encouraging children to understand how a potato in its basic form is cheap, highly nutritious and can easily be turned into a delicious meal.
Campaigns have ranged from encouraging grandparents to teach children how to cook a simple, tasty baked potato to an upcoming interactive school holiday programme which harnesses the power of social media and shows teenagers, and parents, how to teach younger children to cook.
“Extensive international research has shown that children are increasingly disconnected from the sources of their food and do not know how it is grown,” said Glenda.
“Researchers refer to these children as “concrete kids”. A recent study of Australian children found that many don’t understand where food comes from or the value of farmers and farmland in society.
“The Year of Food and Farming research in the UK found that many children had never visited the countryside or even a farmers’ market and this lack of contact led to an indifference to anything beyond the superficial tastes of food.”
Glenda said that, with people living increasingly busy lifestyles, many parents found it easier to always cook dinner themselves, rather than passing on cooking skills to their children.
Potatoes New Zealand’s latest initiative is sponsoring, along with Bosch, the It’s My Turn To Cook Tonight Bosch School Holiday Program This harnesses the power of role models and utilises the internet to engage kids to gain cooking and food skills. The programme runs April 16th - 20th in your home, using your food, with your kids cooking your dinner!
“Potatoes New Zealand’s message is that one of the greatest life skills you can pass on to your children is teaching them to cook – and encouraging them to prepare a meal for the family once a week,” said Glenda.
“We are breaking new ground in working with the teen market. Kids’ eating habits are influenced by their peers, so having an older role model leading them through some basics in the kitchen will go a long way and set them all in good stead for maintaining a balanced lifestyle as they grow up.
“We need to connect these “concrete kids” back to their food sources. Fresh potatoes are a great ingredient to start with because they have consistently been found to be New Zealand children’s favourite vegetable and can be used to make so many easy, delicious dishes.”
Ron Gall, Potatoes New Zealand Business Manager, said the initiative was the ideal format to get children cooking and eating fresh New Zealand produce: “This programme not only allows our children to learn lifelong skills, but supports our local growers – which is good for our economy.”
For more information, visit www.potatoes.co.nz
Research mentioned was taken from the National Survey of Children and Young People’s Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviours in New Zealand conducted by the Clinical Trial Research Unit 2008/2009; the Australian Council for Educational Research; and Agricultural Literacy. Giving concrete children food for thought by Dr Aric Sigman.
Website link to New Zealand report: http://www.ana.org.nz/documents/NZsurveyyoung.pdf
Source: Potatoes New Zealand