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(Above: Ambassador Erin Ponsonby)
In the spring of 2012 I entered the Thought For Food Challenge, a global competition designed to encourage young people to "challenge the status quo" and create innovative solutions to one big question: How do we feed 9 billion people by 2050? My team and I were ecstatic (I really can’t emphasize enough how excited we were) when we learned we had won one of two winning spots and a trip to the One Young World Summit in Pittsburgh.
My experience at One Young World was life changing. Something about being in the presence of other like-minded, young people from all over the world is incredibly powerful and inspiring. The simple act of sharing ideas and experiences over mountains of 'Clif bars' and coffee renewed my faith in the ability of my generation to solve global issues.
Hunger, food policy and education are where my passion lies so when the Food Revolution Special Session with Jamie Oliver began, I was eager to hear what the panelists and the other delegates had to say on the topic.
There are two reasons why I took an interest in hunger and food. First, I’m both fascinated and appalled at the fact that millions of people the world over continue to die of hunger and malnutrition. I think it's downright ridiculous and it needs to change, stat.
Secondly, I have personally experienced the sort of damage you can do to your body with the food you eat or don’t eat. I want to share this experience with others in the hopes that it will inspire even just one person to make better decisions.
Being young, invincible (hah!) and ambitious like most of you, my first two years of college were wildly over scheduled. I lived mostly off coffee and whatever food one could buy at a coffee shop, mostly baked goods. Eventually this caught up to me and after some prodding from a friend and a good deal of protest on my part, I eventually sought medical help.
I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, mostly as a result of my very poor diet, lack of exercise and stress. It took over two years to recover both mentally and physically from this. The amount of time and money I spent on medical treatment far exceeded the extra time and money I should’ve spent on healthy, nutritious food. Lesson learned.
Jamie Oliver is right. We need a food revolution.
So what is the Food Revolution? Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is a call to action and a challenge for people around the world to “stand up for real food and better food education”. He believes, as I do, that our world has some serious food issues and change starts with education and knowledge empowerment.
In the U.S., cooking at home has become a lost art and processed food has become the toxic staple of the American diet. If we continue down the path we’re currently on, this generation of kids will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.
In addition to the obvious nutritional downsides of eating too many chicken nuggets, the related medical costs are astounding. At last year’s One Young World Summit, Kim Kessler, the Food Policy Coordinator for New York City said that “obesity related costs in New York City are over $4 billion per year”.
Today is Food Revolution Day 2013 and there is an endless list of ways in which you can participate. Here are just a few:
• Host a potluck, only healthy home cooked meals allowed!
• Host a cooking demonstration and dinner party. Pick a simple, healthy meal and teach coworkers, friends or family how to prepare it.
• Get excited about cooking at home! Hit up your local bookstore and buy a new cookbook or check out some of these great food blogs (but be careful, not all of them are health conscious). Whatever you have to do to get excited about cooking, do it.
• Bring your own healthy meals to work or school, set an example.
• Bring in a bowl of fresh fruit to work once a week and leave it on the table in your break room.
• Keep your pantry and fridge stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks like nuts or yoghurt.
For more ideas, visit the Food Revolution Day Website and make sure to include #FRD2013 on your Twitter and Instagram posts!
Have some ideas of your own? Comment below or Tweet them @OneYoungWorld then get off your computer and get cooking!