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Sunday, 11 March 2012

What a bleddy marvellous idea. "Root" Camp for teenagers.

The following article was on the Daily Telegraph web site today and I just had to spread the news. First part here, and if you are interested, read the whole article on the Electronic Telegraph website.

It is a daily battle for thousands of parents: how to persuade their children to eat their greens.

Now, one mother has taken to extreme measures, setting up "root camps" in the country - where teenagers are sent to grow and cook their own food.

Cassia Kidron came up with the idea after realising that by the age of 16, her eldest son had spent plenty of time on his studies, yet had little notion of how to put a meal on the table.

The self-taught cook organised a series of weekends, in which Cato and his friends were instructed to arrive at dawn, for two long days in the kitchen.

Their popularity has inspired a venture which sees teenagers sent to camps in the country, where they learn not just how to cook, but how to grow their own food.

Those who prove their foodie credentials as a future Jamie Oliver or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall can even earn a Duke of Edinburgh award for their efforts.

Camp members aged between 15 and 21 spend half of each day cooking with professional chefs, and the other half in the fields, growing garlic, crushing apples - and indulging in mud-fights.

Evening entertainment means a visit from local farmers, cheesemakers and beekeepers before a feast is served from the day's efforts.

The mother-of-three said: "I wanted to be able to compete with the culture of drinking, smoking and fast-food which hooks in teenagers, and to show that food can create a social and fun environment."

She said the idea was sparked when her eldest son was taking his GCSEs.

The former photographer from north-west London said: "The academic life had been quite full-on, and I looked at Cato and his friends and thought how on earth are they going to become independent if they don't know how to feed themselves?"

After a year working with the organic food producer Riverford, which sells organic food boxes, she became aware that despite growing interest in the "real food" movement among some teenagers, most lacked any direct experience of food or farming.

"There is a lot of talk about organic food and real food, but most kids lack 'hands in the earth' experience, or knowledge about how food is made," she said.

With such interests often seen as the strict preserve of the middle-classes, the enterprise is trying to increase the number of sponsored places, for families who cannot afford the £525 cost of a six-day camp, and has set up after-school clubs in London.
The shame here is that unless companies come along and sponsor places for less well off working class kids, they will end up eating the wrong foods and die young, and the Middle Classes will end up eating healthily and living longer.

I have to admit, my parents didn't have to send me to a "root camp" because they taught me how to cook.


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