Over 650 young people have made the journey through The Taste Adventure as part of the UK's Slow Food Kids project in the past two months. A key tenant of the Slow Food UK mission is to embed appreciation and understanding of food into a troubled food culture.
The five stations of the Adventure are based on the five senses, and are devoted to entertaining and challenging children (and even adults!) in discovering what they do and do not know about the food that they eat. Understanding taste through the senses allows children to appreciate and enjoy food helping them to become better ‘eaters’ as they grow. It allows children the opportunity to truly explore their food through utilising all five senses in a fun, interactive environment with their parents or teachers.
In March, Hollington Primary School, Hastings, UK had a successful Slow Food Kids event in which volunteer students from Sussex Coast College Hastings (Slow Food on Campus) collaborated with the local Slow Food Hastings group to deliver two food education workshops for 50 school pupils aged 9 and 10 years old.
A volunteer delivering the Noisy Zone suggested to children, “If you are eating something that you don’t enjoy or are bored of, try just concentrating on the noise that it makes in your mouth as you eat”. A group of children responded enthusiastically, “I am going to try that tonight”.
The aim, of course, is to have a lasting impact. According to one teacher, “A week after Slow Food Kids visited our school; the class were still thinking about the workshop and asked to do another food tasting. We tasted 15 cheeses”.
Another Slow Food Kids success story this March took place in West Norwood, London at the Slow Food Festival. Amongst the multitude of food stalls, demonstrations, talks and tastings, 10 staff and volunteers facilitated The Taste Adventure for nearly 100 participants. Despite the blustery day, families queued to wind their way through the stations and, as a final treat, everyone was offered a sample of Grana Padano from a generously donated wheel.
In April this year, over 300 children and their families visited Slow Food Kids at the Norfolk Showground in Norwich. One parent commented that The Taste Adventure challenged even adult food knowledge and was ‘surprisingly tricky!” Despite the variety of attractions and activities on offer, an organiser named it as the “best children’s participation at the show.”
Last year, nearly 40 Taste Adventures were run across the UK, enjoyed by more than 13,000 children, from London to Edinburgh, from Belfast to Ipswich, including at some high profile events such as Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival, the Royal Highland Show, Alex James presents Harvest and the Balmoral Show in Northern Ireland.
This straightforward but effective approach to children’s food education is a must for a nation struggling with obesity and food-related health issues and will be a continued strength for Slow Food UK.