Food Literacy In Children And Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Presenter: Katherine
Guest: Lyndi Polivnick
Guest Bio: A dietician and nutritionist, Lyndi Polivnick, who is an expert in a few areas.  In addition to this, she is an ambassador for the Food Revolution.

Segment Overview: Lyndi Polivnick joins us in this segment to share her knowledge regarding food literacy. As an ambassador of the Food Revolution in Australia, she hopes to reach as many as possible and convince them to practice healthy cooking and eating.


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Katherine: Thank you for listening today. Today we’re joined by dietician and nutritionist, Lyndi Polivnick, who is an expert in a few areas. In addition to this, she is an ambassador for the Food Revolution. It’s a global movement that was started by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. It initially was aimed to improve the food literacy of our children and improve food and nutrition education. Welcome to our show, Lyndi.

Lyndi Polivnick: Thanks, Katherine.  Good to be here.

Katherine: Now, Lyndi, can you start off by telling us about your work as a dietician and a nutritionist?

Lyndi: Sure.  I actually work in diabetes management, so it’s a really interesting area and definitely a spot which needs a bit more education.  It is a complex way of eating.  So, Food Revolution ties into that, and I got started about a year ago trying to encourage kids to learn about food and get some cooking skills on the agenda in schools.

Katherine: How did you become involved with the Food Revolution?  That came over from the UK, didn’t it?

Lyndi: Absolutely.  Jamie Oliver started the Food Revolution a few years ago, and since, he’s launched the Ambassador Program.  We now have almost 300 ambassadors throughout the world who are campaigning for better nutrition.  Each ambassador, like myself, we determine strategies and initiatives that are relevant to our own community.   In that way, it’s quite empowering that we can adjust our interventions as we need to, based on our particular community.

Katherine: Can you give us some examples of what type of work you do in the community?  What type of programs, for example?

Lyndi: Sure.  Well, at the moment, we’re planning a large-scale event, and we’re hoping to use this as an example of what could be started throughout Australia.  So, as an event, we would post it at a school.  We get the local farmers’ markets involved, local businesses, and we almost start a competition against the kids, who can cook food.  We get all the schools against each other and we get them to challenge each other to make the best food.  And in doing this, we get the whole community together, and it’s an empowering thing for everyone to get involved in.

Katherine: Yeah.  It sounds like a lot of fun, actually.  That’s great that kids have access to be able to cook again.  Because I think you’ve mentioned that home economics is no longer a required unit at school in primary schools.  Is that right?

Lyndi: Absolutely.  Several decades ago, home economics was dropped from the curriculum.  I think that was a result of new priorities.  But it’s a shame because you think that the school’s this key opportunity to speak to kids about food, about healthy cooking.  And also the home.  The home used to be the heart of passing on food and food culture, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

So, we have to ask ourselves; where are kids learning about food?  Where are they learning about nutrition?  And if they’re not learning about it from school or home, then that’s something we need to change.

Katherine: Exactly.  There are very, very alarming statistics.  For example, 20% of Australian kids actually think pasta comes from an animal, and I’m sure you have plenty more staggering statistics.  When did kids be so disconnected, do you think, from their food and not knowing where, say, pasta comes from?

Lyndi: I think it’s been since home economics was stopped.  That was a really great opportunity for kids to learn about food.  But I also think since the Food Revolution, in terms of the industry and the way that we now eat, the increase in fast foods, the amount of time spent preparing food in the home, I think all those factors have led to kids not learning about food.  So, I think something needs to change about the way that we’re currently teaching our kids about food.  And the Food Revolution is just one initiative which could hopefully do quite a bit in that space.

Katherine: Yeah, it sounds like because home economics is no longer available in schools, we’ve got generations now of kids who maybe don’t cook at home or even have the opportunity to at school.  So then, if they’re not learning it at school and they’re not learning it at home, then where can they obtain cooking skills or knowledge?  Hence we now have, like you said, the diabetes issue, obesity issues.  How can we obtain these skills now, do you think?

Lyndi: Well, there are a few programs which are currently running in Australia such the Stephanie Alexander Program as well as Eat It to Beat It by Cancer Council.  So, there are a few initiatives that are doing some really great things in that space, but I’m not sure until we get it on a more mandatory population-based level that we’re going to get some real change in that space.

I think Food Revolution could hopefully have a place there, but we need to find a way that we can have it across Australia and not just have it in one small community, if we want to make a big difference.

Katherine: Yes.  Most kids actually just eat what their parents give them.  So if their parents don’t know what’s good for them, that could be a problem as well.  And it’s the whole family.  Statistics show that if your parents are obese, you have a high likeliness of becoming obese yourself as well.  Is this right?

Lyndi: Absolutely.  There is a definite link between the health of a family and how the child will be raised.  What I think is really important is that we’re not just focusing on kids.  We’re focusing on their parents, on educating the whole family and the community as a whole, and in doing so, hopefully ensuring that the next generation that comes through will be healthier.  Kids really learn a lot from their parents, how to eat and what to eat and what to buy.  So yes, we definitely need to be talking to parents as well, as they are the gatekeeper of what their children are eating.

Katherine: Yes.  I was lucky enough to listen to Jamie Oliver speak when he came to Australia last year, and he actually mentioned that some parents were giving their children energy drinks [indecipherable 07:19] boxes because they don’t know that these drinks are so highly caffeinated.  They just heard from their teacher that their child was falling asleep after lunchtime, so they thought let’s give them an energy drink to prep them up.  He insisted that these parents are not bad parents, they just don’t have information.

Lyndi: Yeah, absolutely.  That’s really alarming and scary to hear, and it really points out that there is a lack of education.  I don’t know exactly what the solution is right now.  I think it’s going to take a whole range of different initiatives to try to get to a point where parents know where to access information from.  Perhaps if we do something on a population-based level and we can get everyone involved, then that could go one step in the right direction.

Katherine: Sure.  As you mentioned before, it’s not all doom and gloom.  There are some schools with the kitchen gardens.  Also, successful shows like MasterChef have really inspired families to start going to farmers’ markets and also get together and cook as an activity at home.  So, there are some positive things that people are doing in the community and within their families as well.

Lyndi: Yeah, absolutely.  There is definitely a resurgence in getting back to cooking, and I think that’s great.  I think MasterChef has played a really critical part in that, which is good.  I think we’re stepping in the right direction.  We just need to keep that momentum and head there, get there.

Katherine: Yeah.  Thank you so much for your time today, and it’s great to hear that there are initiatives like the Food Revolution going on in different communities in Australia.  Thank you for your time, Lyndi.

Lyndi:  My pleasure, Katherine.  Thank you.

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