My post on the Peak District is in the works - I promise - but for now, here’s another deflection from my life into something infinitely more interesting and worthy of note! Jamie Oliver is the 2010 TED Prize Winner!
Click through to see his wish. I do hope he succeeds; Food really is of prime importance in our lives, socially and health-wise. I want to eat better too, and I agree that everyone should, especially children.
His corresponding video for this Prize Wish, if bordering on the theatrical, is passionate and sobering.
I’ve always wondered what Jamie would think if he went to Singapore and took a look at our school food. Granted, we don’t make it a point to have super fresh ingredients or anything like that, but the schools and the parents do make it a point to minimise fried food and sugared options, especially in the primary schools, and make sure cooked food is offered, rather than just processed nonsense. In fact, if the schools offered just all kinds of weird straight-from-the-microwave fare, the parents would raise a mega hoopla. Most parents, if anything, are too conscious about what their children eat, regulating everything from fizzy drinks and french fries to chocolates and ice cream, and ordering that their kids eat copious amounts of fruit and vegetables, and drink tonnes of water. I can’t imagine a Singaporean primary school kid without his/her water bottle hanging from a sling across his/her body.
And this all happens just as a matter of cultural norms; we expect our schools and parents to feed children well. Nobody’s had to wage a campaign/revolution about it; it just is, that’s the way we as a society have always eaten, and these food habits grow old with us. Ok, so we have a lot of other unhealthy (yummy) nonsense - coconut milk-laden laksa, lard-laden char kuay teow - but as far as I recall, everyone eats these things with a mix of glee and guilt of “ok, just this one time this week/month - tomorrow, back to cai fan! (Veg + rice).” We have specific vocabulary dedicated to describing the different negative feelings some kinds of food can give you, if you’ve had too much of it - gelat, heaty - and it’s so funny to me that no one thinks twice about this, in Singapore, no one realises that it’s really quite unique to us, or perhaps to Asian cultures more generally, to have internalised thinking about food as a way of life, the way we do. I promise we don’t intentionally contrive to think about these things, not like the diligent way in which people count calories or design diet plans - we really don’t deserve the credit that should come with making that kind of effort! - it’s just the way we operate.
And I, for one, am quite proud of it!