Promoting a healthy eating revolution is a lifelong passion for educator Alice Zaslavsky.
A teacher by trade, Zaslavsky is also a former MasterChef Australia contestant, current host of Kitchen Whiz! and author of Alice’s Food A-Z. She has recently announced the launch of food-ed.com as a hub for teachers to share resources around healthy food education.
“Through interdisciplinary food education, teachers will be able to help their students to contextualise themselves within a modern world,” Zaslavsky says. “They’ll not only be helping to build healthy relationships around food, but they’ll also be nurturing students with a social conscience and a global outlook.” Calling for teachers nationwide to get involved, Zaslavsky says food-ed.com will be a collaborative multidisciplinary teachers’ portal for resources that can be used to help integrate food into the existing curriculum.
“I want the portal to be user-friendly,” she says. “Teachers don’t have ages to search about, so I want them to be able to find exactly what they need for the discipline, year level, outcome and/or subject matter as quickly as possible to encourage them to continue using it.”
A former head of department at an elite co-ed school, Zaslavsky says she often used the topic of food to engage, inspire and teach her students about history, geography and English.
“As a teacher, I used online resources and materials when I could and would often integrate topics around food into my own English and humanities lesson plans,” she says. “What this did was encourage conversations around food and eating in a natural way, but also helped to engage students in the subject matter at hand because it was based on a topic that offers everybody common ground: we’ve all gotta eat.”
Zaslavsky supports Jamie Oliver’s change.org petition, which calls for the Australian government to introduce compulsory, practical cooking lessons in schools, and hopes food-ed.com will help teachers implement this plan.
“Teachers’ workloads are already strained, and the curriculum is already so overloaded that I realised how important it was to provide resources that could integrate into the existing plan and into the pedagogical capabilities of each individual,” she says.
Claiming the three greatest obstacles to healthy nutrition are fear, fast food and Instagram, Zaslavsky says many conversations are needed to break down ignorance and false information.
“I’m heartened to see that many kids (and their parents) are starting to move away from convenience foods, but I do worry that some of the talk around #cleaneating can go too far, and some kids are growing up thinking of foods as wrong or bad or dirty,” she says. “I’m very conscious about what I post around the food I’m eating, because I want them to see that what brings me the most joy is fresh fruit and veg straight from the market, but if there’s a crispy croissant with my name on it, then that’s totally going in my mouth, and I’m definitely excited about it.
“The fast food and confectionery juggernauts have done way too good a job of making themselves familiar and accessible to kids,” she says. “We need to make fresh food and home-made food cooler … If you love pizza – that’s OK – make it yourself, and that way you know what’s gone into it and you can make better choices and start to become active in the process of feeding yourself, rather than just being a blind consumer.”