British teenagers will be given compulsory "cookery" lessons at school under a new government plan to ensure that all pupils know how to make eight different healthy meals, none of which is likely to be fish and chips. The government began an overhaul of school lunches a few years ago, partly resulting from TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign against the poor quality of ingredients being served in schools. This new move, which aims to improve students' nutrition at home as well, is part of the government's strategy to reduce obesity. Students age 11 to 14 will learn to cook for an hour a week.
Ed Balls, the British schools secretary, told the BBC he wanted members of the public to suggest ideas for the classic English dishes and international cuisine that students should learn to cook. Meals must be "healthy, easy to prepare and the kind of meals that teenagers will want to eat." Good luck, mate.
Saving dull dinner parties nationwide
Customers tired of talking about the weather? Their sister's kids? The fat content in their appetizers? TableTopics conversation starters—decks of cards with different questions designed to jump-start a lively chat—has just added a Gourmet edition to its line, which already includes a Wine and a Spirits edition.
Sample questions include: If you had your own cooking show, what would be your theme? If you could only use one cookbook for the next year, which would you choose? Where's the best barbecue you've eaten?
TableTopics carry a suggested retail price of $25. Check them out at www.tabletopics.com.
Irish tax creates plastics pariahs
Carrying a plastic grocery bag in Ireland has become as socially acceptable as leaving a pile of dog poop on the pavement. The 2002 Irish "plastax," which charges customers 33 cents per bag, coupled with an awareness campaign, has been hugely successful. Use of plastic bags has dropped by more than 90 percent, according to Irish Environment Minister Martin Cullen.
The reusable cloth bag has become as common as a brogue. Within a year of the tax, nearly everyone has bought them. Cullen says the 3.5 million euros raised will be spent on environmental projects. —S.R.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 3/p. 80