Ian Nutt, Head of Development for Soil Association Food for Life
100% organic food, with a high proportion of vegetarian dishes (which of course helps keep costs down and means you can buy better quality local British meat on the ‘meat days’) in a children’s centre or nursery should be a basic right for all children.
I genuinely don’t think this because I work for the Soil Association and Food for Life, but because growing up as a kid in the 80s, this was pretty much how things were for me, but without me realising it. My parents didn’t have any money (Mum still tells us about getting married and fitting everything they owned in their car, apart from the ironing board), we lived in a basic semi and couldn’t afford to go on holidays or eat out, but we grew our own produce, had a few goats in the garden and Mum made everything from scratch. I know not everybody can have a garden with a goat in it (chomping on the washing line), but the principles of understanding my food and developing my palate so early on, I am convinced, has meant I am very aware and able to make informed choices about what and how I eat.
Good food shouldn’t be a privilege or a principle we even have to think about, and it certainly shouldn’t be a concept restricted to the ‘yummy mummy’ culture; fresh, organic food for children should be a basic tenet of a best start in life.
My recent visit to Tall Trees Kindergarten near Frome, Somerset, highlighted an incredible example of a nursery who simply provide equal billing for all children with their organic menu, and without any fuss from the children and families because it is a part of their ethos. When quizzed over the food and ‘little Johnny’s’ aversions to X, Y or Z, the managing director Emma Comer simply treats their menus in the same way as the education; it is an intrinsic part of the offer and you either accept it, or you don’t.
And it works; seeing rooms full of toddlers munching away on celery, apples, cucumber, carrot and slurping on soup means I can go back to my day job and bring this way of eating well to every child, and not just the privileged few.