Planting the seeds of ag literacy

Can your teen make turkey pasta puttanesca? How about a hard-boiled egg?

By Paula Schuck
Better Farming

If your teen was suddenly accepted to college or university tomorrow, would he or she be ready to care for him- or herself? Would his or her diet revolve around microwaved ramen noodles, hot dogs, and boxed macaroni and cheese? Or could your child shop for ingredients, and plan and prepare healthy meals for a week?

What if every teen began his or her post-secondary education knowing how to make at least six simple, nutritious, fresh meals?

This premise underpins the OFA’s Six by Sixteen program. Participants learn how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, a mini Canadian meatloaf, a taco salad and the perfect grilled cob of corn.

Food literacy is a topic close to the hearts of many OFA members. The organization started the Six by Sixteen program, which is geared towards high school students, about five years ago. Part of the goal for the programs is to enable all high school students to develop basic meal-planning and preparation skills.

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“We wanted kids to be able to talk and think a bit more about their food and, ultimately, to be able to make six healthy meals by the age of sixteen,” says Keith Currie, president of the OFA.

The Ontario government is very supportive of the program and many high schools have embraced the initiative too, Currie says.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some political champions along the way,” he adds.

Teachers of food, physical education and active living courses have used the Six by Sixteen tools in their high-school classrooms.

Food literacy “is a skill that has been lost over time due to our reliance on convenience,” Currie says. “We are trying to encourage better choices, (selecting) healthy, local food options at the grocery store or market. We want high school students to think about where their food comes from, to reach for fresh produce and then know how to prepare it in a way that leads to healthy living.”

For more information on Six by Sixteen, visit BF

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