By ERWIN CHLANDA
“Grow your own” is the simple answer to the dilemma in the bush where bad food is making kids fat, at a rate greater than the nation’s one in four overweight or obese.
Israel Smith and Belinda Smith have formed this view from first-hand observation.
With their children Indrani, 10, and Rilien, 6, they are on a two year crusade through Australia, aiming to bring a healthy food message to more than 100,000 kids and parents.
They are holding a “Mad Food Science Family Event” at the Chifley Resort on Sunday.
It’s a chicken and egg situation says Mr Smith: Fresh food is expensive in outback stores because few people buy it. And because few people buy it, it’s expensive.
They saw lots of processed and packaged food – the root cause of out-of-control weight gain – in the stores and roadhouses along their journey from Sydney.
Yet especially in The Centre there’s lots of sunshine, water and land to have a veggie patch, and people with time on their hands to look after it, says Mr Smith.
The family was amazed to learn that Wycliffe Well, between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, was a regional hub for growing produce during the war.
The “Smith Family” venture is self-funded, having “sold their apartment in Sydney, re-homed their cats and loaded their two children into a purpose-built motorhome to tackle the problem head-on,” they say.
Mr Smith is still unclear what a lasting solution will be like, but says there is anecdotal evidence from their work that education can have lasting benefits.
The Smiths want to “empower kids to understand bad food” and realise that junk food “comes from a chemistry lab,” made delicious for children to crave it, offered in attractive packets with their favourite cartoons, making kids nag their parents into buying it.
By contrast, the green smoothie promoted by the Smiths, made from bananas, strawberries and baby spinach, is healthy and “tastes great”.
Ms Smith is a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador and Health Coach.
She says current research shows that today’s children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in history.
“Kids eat too much ‘pretend’ food which affects not only their weight, but also their emotions and concentration.
“We’ve experienced this first-hand with our daughter’s volatile moods, which dramatically improved when we changed what she was eating.”