At Edible Education, founder and CEO Ann Butler’s mission is to empower kids to have the culinary skills they need to create simple, healthy, recipes made with real food. The award-winning cooking teacher launched her company in 2011 and in the years since has worked with more than 20,000 kids in dozens and dozens of schools. This is just the beginning of her big dream — one that she knows is only possible thanks to the collaborations she is engaged in. Scroll down to meet some of Edible Education’s partners!
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day — Held in May each year, Edible Education has supported this great effort for years. “Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn — I love it!” says acclaimed Oliver, who parlayed the two seasons of his TV series Food Revolution into an annual Food Revolution Day.
It’s goal: To put compulsory, practical food education in the school curriculum.
“With diet-related diseases rising at an alarming rate, it has never been more important to educate children about food — where it comes from and how it affects their bodies,” he insists, pointing to these startling statistics:
- Worldwide, more than 42 million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese.
- Children today are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents.
- Diet-related illnesses are among the world’s biggest killers.
Step one, he says, is to sign his petition and share it with your social media contacts. As of Sept. 24, 2015 — 1,619,348 people have taken him up on the offer. With the goal of getting 3 million people to sign, he’s aiming to tap 1,380,652 more. Oliver also suggests bringing his Food Revolution home:
- Challenge your work colleagues to a cook-off using some of his recipes, such as his Squash It Sandwich.
- Round up your friends and host a dinner party, picnic, or barbecue.
- Take your kids to a local farmers market, try a new ingredient, and cook it from scratch.
Click here to join her in supporting this great cause: foodrevolutionday.com.
James Beard Foundation’s Better Burger Project™ — When the James Beard Foundation (JBF) kicked off its Better Burger Project™ in the summer of 2015, it challenged chefs across the nation to create a more healthy, delicious, and sustainable burger by blending ground meat with finely chopped, cultivated mushrooms. From hundreds of entries from chefs whose burgers appeared in the Instagram photos, uploaded by their customers, five emerged victorious. Why Meat + Mushrooms? “Blending meat with mushrooms reduces calories, fat, and sodium while adding important nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, and B vitamins. A blended burger also brings more sustainable, plant-based items to menus, allowing Americans to enjoy the taste and flavor of the burgers they love, knowing the preparation is healthier and more sustainable,” says Butler. “An exciting part of the future of food is creating better-for-you versions of beloved foods. The Better Burger Project is a great example of how we can work with chefs to make these healthier options a reality.”
As communities and organizations get behind the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation, one group that could have a tremendous impact on the health and well being of children is the Nation’s chefs. As part of her effort to turn policies into practical solutions for America’s families, Mrs. Obama is calling on chefs to get involved by adopting a school and working with teachers, parents, school nutritionists and administrators to help educate kids about food and nutrition. By creating healthy dishes that taste good, chefs have a unique ability to deliver these messages in a fun and appealing way to the larger audience, particularly children.
The “Chefs Move to Schools” program, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will pair chefs with interested schools in their communities so together they can create healthy meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and budgets, while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices. With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever.
“Many children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school and as families work to ensure that kids eat right and have active play at home, we also need to ensure our kids have access to healthy meals in their schools,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “We are going to need everyone’s time and talent to solve the childhood obesity epidemic and our Nation’s chefs have tremendous power as leaders on this issue because of their deep knowledge of food and nutrition and their standing in the community. I want to thank them for joining the Let’s Move! campaign.”
“Chefs and nutrition experts can play a critical role in addressing the childhood obesity crisis, and they are welcome partners as we work together to improve the overall health and nutrition of America’s children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By passing a strong reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, Congress can provide important resources to improve school cafeteria equipment and expand training opportunities for chefs, school food service personnel, and nutrition experts in our schools, because they will be on the front lines of improving school meals for our kids.”
“School cafeterias are the frontline for fostering a healthy lifestyle for children,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This initiative is a creative and vital opportunity for children to learn and practice healthy habits. When partnerships between schools and the broader community are created, everyone wins.”
And that’s just the beginning! Scroll down for Be Inkandescent magazine’s October 2015 interview with Bulter about her business, the future, and her 10 tips on how to teach kids to cook real food!
Be Inkandescent: Take us back to the beginning of this sweet business. You came up with this idea in December 2011 after leaving your job as a high school culinary-arts teacher. What was the impetus that led you to create a cooking school for kids outside school?
Ann Butler: High school kids are very smart and very eager to learn; however, they eat garbage. If I had to see one more kid walk through the door with Doritos and a Red Bull for breakfast, I seriously was going to pull my hair out. But the research shows that if you get to those kids at a younger age, you can actually make a difference, and that’s what we set out to do.
Be Inkandescent: That’s right. The Centers for Disease Control found that if children are exposed to 50 hours of food education by the time they’re 12, it changes the way they think about food for the rest of their lives. So, obviously it’s best to work with them young, in elementary school and even preschool. Tell us how you’re making this research come to life for thousands of kids.
*Ann Butler:* Once you get into the school system and you’re working with the kids, you don’t really need any studies — you can see it on their faces. Give the kids a cutting board; a safety knife; the opportunity to smell, touch, and taste the food; and have them cook it, and they absolutely will eat it! Once they are involved in the process, they have an ownership over the food and they are curious about what it tastes like. It’s really not very difficult to get kids to try the new foods.
Don’t stop now! Click here to read more of our our Q&A with Ann Butler, and discover her 10 Tips for Helping Kids Cook Real Food.