How schoolchildren in County Durham are learning more about food on their table

PUBLISHED: 18:26 17 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:52 20 February 2013

Pupils from Bowes Hutchinson School, with in the middle row, teacher Jane Macinnes, Angela Whiting, and judge, Barbara Johnson

Pupils from Bowes Hutchinson School, with in the middle row, teacher Jane Macinnes, Angela Whiting, and judge, Barbara Johnson

There's been much discussion in recent years about how we encourage our young people to understand their food - here's one organisation making a difference

When I was a child I never questioned what my mother put on the table for me and my sister to eat. It was always wholesome, always tasted good and was always local. She food shopped from the stores down the street greengrocer, butcher, baker or from the local farm eggs, potatoes, fruit, milk. A lot of the rest came from the Co-op (number 166058).

I never thought about whether what I was eating was local (although I knew bananas and oranges didnt grow in West Yorkshire) but I could certainly recognise the fruit and veg that came into the house. Im not sure how many of todays children know their turnip from their swede, their leek from their fennel, or their beetroot from their beans. But I did.

Jamie Oliver is probably the best known name in the healthy and cost effective eating for children lobby. But there are many others banging the drum about local food and helping people understand about food miles and the importance to the local economy of supporting your local producers.

So heres a thing. About 500 miniature master chefs from 16 primary schools wowed the judges in a Come Dine With Me cookery competition in Teesdale in County Durham.

The contest was organised by The Love Food project, which supports the production, use and appreciation of locally grown or reared food throughout Teesdale, Weardale, the Allen Valleys and Derwentside, and its aim was to encourage children to consider where their food comes from, the food miles involved and the use of local produce. Each school visited a local producer and cooked a meal for a judge to taste.

All 16 primary schools from the two Teesdale secondary school clusters Teesdale School and Staindrop School took part. Cockfield Primary was the winner in the Staindrop School cluster and Staindrop C of E Primary the runner up. Bowes Hutchinson Primary School was the winner in the Teesdale School cluster and Forest in Teesdale School the runner up.

Teacher Sarah West of Cockfield Primary which has its own allotment and chickens and whose 18 Class 4 pupils undertook the project - said: It has been a brilliant competition which has helped children to understand what is on their doorstep instead of in the shop.

Judge Bill Oldfield, of Oldfields restaurant in Durham (itself a huge proponent of local food), said: The experience was fantastic and what struck me was the huge enthusiasm shown by everyone who took part.

Bowes Hutchinson School also impressed its judge, Barbara Johnson, owner of the Morritt Country House Hotel in Greta Bridge. She said: The children went to such trouble the understanding of food miles and presentations were excellent. The school made the longest learning journey.
Lead teacher, Jane Macinnes, said Class 5 and 6 had taken part and they had all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We have all learned a lot about where our food comes from, including a lot of cookery terminology.

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