Why do the French eat snails?
Because they don't like fast food!
The joke is told by Blenheim chef Marcel Rood when asked about Good Fork Week.
The national promotion to help New Zealanders fight the obesity epidemic started on March 4 and called on people to support food outlets offering nutritious foods on their menu.
Marcel, who owns Raupo Riverside Cafe and is the Restaurant Association of New Zealand's Marlborough branch president, is unaware of any businesses he represents taking part in the promotion, but he supports healthy eating. Diners can be tempted to throw sensible eating habits aside when ordering food in a restaurant, he notes.
That may be a habit formed in earlier generations when families typically ate out just once or twice a year on special occasions.
These days a spread of cafes and restaurants in towns and cities show dining out is a popular, social activity.
And like anything done regularly, making sensible food choices when ordering restaurant food is important.
Good Fork Week is run by Unilever Food Solutions in partnership with the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation to help chefs and diners alike tackle a growing obesity problem.
Sarah Hanrahan from the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation says statistics show one million adults are either overweight or obese, and one in 10 Kiwi kids between 2 and 14 are obese.
Marcel likes the mantra delivered by Blenheim food presenter Chris Fortune, who urges people to buy foods produced locally and so they can be eaten fresh.
"And you can do it at home.
"Start yourself a little vege garden and fill it up with herbs.
"It's just so nice to have a handful of fresh herbs thrown over your food at the last moment . . . chopped basil, tarragon over your fish for some beautiful flavours."
Chris agrees. Creating a garden is a great way to educate children about healthy eating, he says.
Identifying himself as an "underwater ceramic artist - I spend most of my time washing dishes" - he runs Kids Can Cook programmes that teach children about food being fun.
"We underestimate the intelligence of children to make good choices around food; it's all about having information in front of them."
He blames some of New Zealand's unhealthy eating habits on the expectation that all foods be available throughout the year, without any understanding about what is nutritionally best.
"The americanisation of food has led us away from the table and mother nature. Families should be sitting around the table and talking about what they did during the day . . . Engaging in conversation helps people eat better food."
Teaching children about healthy food is no different to teaching them how to swim, sail or play sport, Chris says.
"Get them involved in the garden or the kitchen.
"Teach them the European style: Where did [the food] come from? How did it get to us? And when does it taste great?"
In Europe, people typically wait for the right season so they can enjoy the best vegetables, he says.
"It's all about understanding the seasons and making food fun and being part of our lives."
- © Fairfax NZ News