It's been a few months since Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" was on television enlightening all of us about what our public schools are feeding our children every single day. It was also Jamie Oliver that pointed not only the schools, but the harried and brainwashed lives we parents buy into about jam-packed schedules and desire to feed our family, as well as ourselves, food that will soothes and comfort us.
We have are a society of 3 generations that grew up increasingly ingesting fast foods and having fewer and fewer home cooks. Our palates have increasingly become accustomed to smoother, greasier, cheesier, crispier, sweeter and more carbonated everything. We have had the invention and inundation of engineered foods, producing more and bigger things that were once completely healthy like vegetables, fruit, milk, cattle and poultry. Many would still argue their healthiness. I'm not arguing that point at all at this time. I'm not a militant vegan or vegetarian or stockholder on the beef council. I am simply a middle-aged wife and mother that enjoys cooking, eating and feeding my own small family. But after being hit, myself, suddenly with many food intolerances, I was unknowledgable and unprepared as to how to deal with it or cook for it. Fast foods and eating out, largely, came to a complete stop for us, as a family. Many, if not most restaurants have very little to offer someone like me. In researching, I learned that 1:130 are gluten-intolerant, if not an official Celiac, or one that cannot ingest wheat, rye or barley. Now, a large percentage of those 1:130 are also bothered by other foods/food groups. Now, no one expects restaurants to cater to everyone and all the different allergies. BUT, the first step would be to educate the food service industry about the new epidemics that are plaguing their customers. Educating chefs and staff is a start, but not only are professionals needing educating, the homecook needs a comeback along with new knowledge and confidence in providing foods for our families that are for health, not just comfort.
Where did alot of us that DO cook learn? Watching FoodNetwork, of course! The cornacopia of foods and ethnicities we've learned through the years have made this world and its food cultures a much smaller place as our palates have expanded and enjoyed truly great food. We all expect more from our dining experience. Now, with the explosion of obesity and diabetes in our country, I am looking to the FoodNetwork to step up and teach us what we need to modify our palates and how to put healthy moderation onto home tables again.
Now, FoodNetwork isn't to blame for the unhealthy conditions we have today, we DID forego exercise and the outdoors, choosing sedate activities such as video games, NetFlix and computers at the same time that processed and fast foods were becoming the norm. But what I'd like to see is the FoodNetwork have MULTIPLE programs geared to healthy cooking and programs for allergen-free cooking. Watching and experiencing explanations with the cooking educates very well. Home cooks would learn better ways and understand what we are eating for. Perhaps the stigma that is rampant amongst restaurant servers believing a gluten-free diet is only a trendy, Hollywood diet. Extended family of those that can no longer enjoy old family favorites at Thanksgiving will no longer believe we are only trying to be high maintenance or that "just a little won't hurt" really WILL hurt.
As much as I LOVE Paula Deen and want to eat absolutely everything she fixes, one show's worth of her "fixins" would kill me, as I'm one of the 1:130. I will still love watching "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", watching all the wonderful fried, cheesy things that are "the BOMB!" And I will still tune in to other channels to watch never-ending contests of eating ginormous amounts of food in an hour. Its all fun and gastronomically enticing. But we need much more balance and Food Network sets the standards in teaching not only the basics of cooking, but what we should be eating and living.