FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Stephanie Alexander wants to change children's thoughts on food to grow the future of health living in Australia.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Stephanie Alexander wants to change children's thoughts on food to grow the future of health living in Australia.

Stephanie Alexander's pleasurable food education philosophy

FAST food is everywhere but Stephanie Alexander is out to slow it down. 

The call of the golden arches has become far too strong and it's not unusual to see a cluster of human activity, swarming around McDonald's like bees to the hive.

Although, there's hope yet, with this famous Australian chef looking to change children's perception of food.

Stephanie is known throughout Australia as a cook, restauranteur and food writer.

After studying to become a librarian and travelling the world at the age of 21, Stephanie opened her first restaurant, Jamaican House in 1964.

Stephanie went on to open a few more restaurants in Victoria, finally leaving behind the restaurant industry in 1997. She went on to publish several cookbooks, including her popular alphabetical guide to ingredients and cooking, The Cook's Companion.

Her latest venture has Stephanie focusing on the 'pleasure' of food, educating children during their learning years, in order to form positive food habits for life.

This is her 'Pleasurable Food Education Philosophy,' the main concentration of Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Foundation.

The philosophy follows this recipe for effective food education:

  • Emphasise the flavours as well as the health benefits of fresh, seasonal and delicious food
  • Reflect the vegetables, herbs and fruits grown, season-by-season, by the children in their organic gardens, and also the Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Kitchen educators emphasise balance and moderation, and endorse the concept of preparing fruit-based desserts 'sometimes-only'
  • Pleasurable food education is designed to be fully integrated into the curriculum or learning framework as it offers infinite possibilities to reinforce literacy, numeracy, science, cultural studies and all aspects of environmental sustainability
  • Pleasurable food education delivers observable social benefits to all children including those with special needs
  • Pleasurable food education encourages critical thinking, teamwork, an understanding of cause and effect, and increased levels of observation

Pleasurable food education is currently delivered in more than 800 Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program Schools and in a growing number of Kitchen Garden Classroom members, across Australia.

A Department of Health and Ageing-funded national evaluation of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program was undertaken between 2011-2012 by the Centre for Health Service Development at the Australian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong.

Students found the activities of the program to be a positive context for learning across multiple subject areas, 97.7 per cent of teachers in the study positively responded in relation to classroom learning.

"We get so much feedback from principals, parents and of course from the students themselves, about how popular this is and how it's changing children's attitudes towards fresh food," Stephanie said.

"If they have developed that understanding and willingness to expand their horizons as far as food goes, and understand what goes on in the garden and how that food has got on their plate, those insights and understandings will be there for life." 

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