The OFA is a farmer-led organization representing 38,000 farm businesses across Ontario and they’re putting a big push on boosting food literacy with young Ontarians.

Youth cooking

Local food is a growing North American phenomenon. Cooking channels, shows and celebrity events are around every corner. The OFA is concerned that our next generation of households and those following have become further and further out of touch with how to cook and prepare healthy food. 

There was a time when students in the Ontario school system learned food basics in home economics class. As a result, parents were able to supplement this knowledge at home through family meal preparation. Curriculum changes have eliminated this life skill learning and young adults have been left on their own to learn how to plan and prepare nutritious meals. This is contributing to our new wave of food related health concerns. 

Food literacy

As the saying goes, if you give someone a fish you feed them for a day but if you teach someone to fish, they will have food for a lifetime. If we teach our young adults to cook, we help them develop a closer connection to food, and possibly even a greater understanding of the endless choices of nutritious food grown right here in Ontario. 

"Curriculum changes have eliminated this life skill learning and young adults have been left on their own to learn how to plan and prepare nutritious meals. This is contributing to our new wave of food related health concerns."

The OFA represents family farms in Ontario who work hard every day to produce fresh food that ranks among the safest and most nutritious in the world. When the Ontario government introduced a new Local Food Act in late 2013, it was great news for Ontario’s agri-food industry to ensure locally produced foods are more readily available. The OFA urged the government to go one step further with the new act to include the concept of food literacy — the idea of helping youth develop an understanding of food and nutrition so they can make better,  healthier choices. 

The “6 x 16” approach

To help drive greater food literacy, the OFA is recommending a “6 x 16” approach to teach young adults the basics of a meal. The goal is to help 16-year-olds learn to plan and prepare six meals from scratch. This means making healthy food choices at the grocery store and following through to finish meal preparation. 

The OFA is calling on parents,  relatives, teachers and organizations to help move the “6 x 16” goal forward. Talk to your children about food choices. Post Canada’s Food Guide on the refrigerator. Lead by example at the grocery store when you purchase fresh, healthy food.  Show your family how easy it is to cook healthy food. Assign an evening when the family all cooks together. Enjoy time together over a home cooked meal.