Regaining Control Over The Foods We Eat

Regaining Control Over The Foods We Eat "Just Cook For Kids"

Thu 19 Sep 2013

Story by Maya Adam

One out of every three Americans is suffering from a life-threatening, yet completely preventable disease. What if you could protect your family from this disease and add value to your life with one simple activity? (Hint: you can.) The answer is Cooking.

Just Cook For Kids is making simple cooking instruction and basic nutrition education widely available, and free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection.

Our first massive open online course, Stanford Child Nutrition and Cooking, caught the attention of more than 34,000 people – and we’re just getting started. You can check out our Just Cook For Kids videos on our Youtube channel and visit us on Grokker, the Expert Video Network. Come join the amazing community around our table.

The problem:

In a country that has achieved some of the greatest medical advances in history, our own children are potentially facing a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Possible explanations:

Our children are in trouble because we’ve outsourced the job of feeding them. As processed food companies have made it increasingly easy for parents to avoid the kitchen altogether, we’ve become convinced that we don’t have the time, money or skills to feed our own offspring. Cooking has become a tour de force, not to be attempted at home by amateurs. School lunch programs that offer mostly processed meals reinforce these food choices as appropriate ones in the eyes of our children. And the increasingly sedentary nature of childhood in America confounds this alarming crisis.

Exploring solutions:

While the origins of the problem may be complex, the solution doesn’t have to be. America needs to start cooking again. When we cook at home, we regain control over the foods our families eat.

If we can reallocate a small amount of time and money towards simple, home cooking, we find ourselves with a powerful tool in the fight against childhood obesity. If we cook at home, we tend to eat less processed food and our children stay healthier.

Besides, home cooking is fun. It can add value to our lives and create more space for community. Spending a bit more time in the kitchen and around the dinner table usually means that we’ll spend a bit more time talking and connecting with our children. Friends will be drawn into our homes as food becomes an integral part of our hospitality. It’s likely that we’ll eat more slowly, consume fewer calories and almost certainly enjoy our food more than we did before we started cooking.

Solutions that work in the long-term have to be easy to implement – for all of us. No amount of lecturing and well-intentioned finger-wagging rivals the power of an individual who decides to fundamentally change their family’s culture of eating. Many of us are aware that our family’s food habits are less than ideal, but the process of turning the cruise ship around seems almost more daunting than the iceberg that lies ahead. The key, then, is to provide families with some basic strategies for success. That’s where we come in.

You have the right to enjoy everything that you eat… and eat the things that you enjoy, while supporting your good health. Real food, eaten in moderation, with others, can help maintain these fundamental rights. So, be fearless. Reallocate resources. Just Cook. Live. Enjoy.

The next Just Cook For Kids course on Coursera is on January 13th, 2014.

About the Author: Maya Adam is a medical doctor who teaches courses on child health and nutrition at Stanford University. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Just Cook for Kids, a non-profit organization trying to inspire a return to simple, economical home cooking for families everywhere. As a mother of three young children, she is also proud to be the family cook and chief party planner.

Stay in touch! Recipes, news, and future course announcements:
Twitter: @MayaAdamMD
Facebook: Just Cook For Kids
Google+: Child Nutrition and Cooking Community
Youtube: Just Cook For Kids Channel


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