Educating children about food sourcing

How confused are children about food and where it comes from?  It seems seriously confused.  I was discussing food sourcing the other week with two of my nephews (age 9 and 11) about children in their classes not knowing where food comes from, to find this research output pop up in my inbox.   They state that according to 27,500 British children aged 5-16,

  • 1 in 3 aged 5-8 think cheese is made from plants
  • 1 in 3 aged 5-8 believe pasta and bread are derived from meat
  • 1 in 4 aged 5-8 think fish fingers come from chicken or pigs
  • 1 in 5 aged 5-8 believe potatoes grow above ground
  • 1 in 10 aged 9-16 think tomatoes grow underground

I (and probably a lot of adults) think this is madness, and wonder how can this really be true.

Ok, so N lives on a farm so of course he’ll know even at the age of 2, where milk comes from, that beef, lamb and sausages are from animals, and that plants grow for food.  (Plus of course, he’s obsessed with Tractor Ted, so knows about harvesting, milling, and virtually every type of farming vehicle).  But by the age of 5 I would expect that all children should know the basics of where their food comes from.

'Chris' the bull (rubbish name compared to some of the others)
‘Chris’ the bull (rubbish name compared to some of the others)

The research also says that at least 73% of children aged 5-8 had been on a farm visit. Yet, clearly, a lot more nutrition education is needed.

Something’s going wrong – maybe parents just don’t talk to their children about food when they’re cooking it or even just shopping.  Some of the problem must be due to the fact that people are using convenience foods more and also potentially shopping either without the children or using online more.

It’s definitely sad that so many young children don’t know basic information about where their food is from.  I’m also astounded, given that so many children’s books (and I’m talking toddler-pre school age books) seem to be educational in some way.  Several of N’s books are about farming or food and I can’t believe that these type of books are only looked at or read by farming children or those with foodie parents.

How do your children find out about food?  Are they interested in food and where it’s from?

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  1. This is a very valid point. I’m surprised sources of food are not included in the school curriculum. And of course, parents ought to talk about it, as well as healthy food. I know I will when my son is older!

    1. It does seem like it should be something basic that should be taught right at the start of school if not earlier. Surely it’s quite an easy thing to talk about while children are actually eating (or while getting them to help make a meal)

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