I recently talked about the next generation of chefs and how we need to become the change we want to see.
It’s tricky for people to know who to listen to when there are so many mixed messages being delivered through a variety of mediums: social media, celebrity culture, food advertising and marketing by corporate businesses.
Coconuts in general – the miracle oil that can work wonders with both food, hair and beauty and pretty much anything you can imagine is praised in abundance. Meanwhile, others will highlight its high fat content and tell you to avoid it completely. Avocados, that dreamy green fruit is praised for its health benefits but then, again, fat shamed! That’s just two examples and we all know how many more there are.
Who do people believe?
When I ran my cafe in Cheltenham, I would often become frustrated by spending so much time educating my customers about eating well – they would see and be inspired by the benefits but would still not act upon it. Social media has created a space for others to preach about what works for them and what their followers should be doing without any regard for the individual. You can read more here in my blog post It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
Of course, social media has profound benefits too. It’s refreshing to see how many people there are inspiring others to live a fuller, happier and healthier life; from bloggers, fitness enthusiasts, yoga and meditation, mindfulness, food travel, entrepreneurship, life coaches and many more.
It’s no longer seen as unusual to invest in our physical and mental well-being but alongside this a conflict arises. Either people can feel they aren’t good enough or are unable to emulate what they see others doing or simply by not knowing who to listen to. Marketing campaigns deeming certain foods as healthy, intentionally misleading people into believing they are purchasing foods that are ‘healthy’ when they are in fact loaded with sugar, artificial flavours and sweeteners that our bodies do not know how to process and end up damaging our health.
Big, corporate food and pharmaceutical companies are making millions of pounds off the back of intentionally misleading the public and in turn damaging our health. Stricter regulations need to be put in place but the more money people make from conducting business in this way, the longer the viscious cycle will continue.
At times it can seem like there are a lot of voices talking over one another with advice changing from week to week. It’s no wonder that despite us having more access to health, fitness and nutrition advice there is an obesity crisis that continues to rise. Pharmaceutical companies keep people sick to make money from the drugs being purchased to treat illnesses. Sadly, this reality will mean that it is not in their interest to help educate the public (and food corporations) on what we should and shouldn’t be eating. There will be a pressure on doctors to continue to prescribe drugs over diet and nutrition. Of course, this is a generalisation and not applicable to every doctor in the country.
You may now be able to see why I’ve made it my mission to help educate the creators and not the people – this is where the real change can happen. I want eating well to be something that people don’t need to think about, it just happens; the alternative to be eliminated. I want healthy eating to be as easy and affordable as it is to eat and buy junk food – I want eating badly to be a hard thing to do.
The more we, as the creators, can make this happen then the more natural it will become. People will always take the easier option, so let’s make eating well the easy choice.
I’m developing The Global Chefs Academy, a training programme dedicated to giving the education and power back to chefs. It’s not just me but so many others who believe that chefs – as the creators of our food – have the ultimate power and social responsibility to change the world of food and give people the healthy lives that they deserve to lead – natural, fresh and filled with nutrients that are designed to fuel our bodies while also being a culinary delight.
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