Thursday, May 1, 2008

Common Threads Improving Children's Lives through Food

I'm a huge fan of the Bravo reality series Top Chef. I have seen every episode of all four seasons. I read the blogs and often add comments. I have ordered the Top Chef cookbook and I have casually thought about trying out myself.

But this post isn't about the contestants or the recipes or whether I agree with the judges about who was told to pack their knives and go. This post is about the guest judge of last night's episode, Art Smith, former personal chef for Oprah Winfrey, now chef/ owner of Table 35 in Chicago, and the founder of an organization called Common Threads.

The mission of Common Threads is "to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking." Through after-school programming, kids 12 years and older get hands-on cooking experience by working with professional chefs. They learn to cook healthy nutritious food--maybe they eat at McDonald's less often afterwards and they cook for their families. But they also learn how food is a cultural bridge, bringing people together across differences.

I am so moved by just going through the site, that I'm going to do some work to see if there is any interest in bring Common Threads to Boston. Stay tuned.

Childhood obesity and poor nutrition has reached epidemic levels, the longterm consequences on public health we have only begun to realize. The reasons are many, but lack of healthy food options--or knowing how to choose and prepare healthy foods--are chief among them. I know. I was a fat kid, a fat adolescent, a fat young adult. In fact, I was fat until I was 28 years old, at which time I went through a very difficult break-up of a long relationship and I lost 40 pounds. Amazingly, I kept it off for a pretty long time--about 10 years. And then, I gained it all back and then some. So, that's why I am where I am now. So I know how hard it is to eat healthy, particularly as a young person when the peer pressure to heat french fries is probably more intense than it is to smoke and take drugs. Common Threads offers an alternative. Plus, just by looking at the pictures, those kids seem to be having a blast!

No comments: