Let's Learn about Healthy Eating

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Margaret Collins

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    Acknowledgements

    George Robinson who suggested a need for this book and lit my fire.

    Jamie Oliver's School Dinners TV programme that fanned the flames!

    Teachers everywhere who would like their children to be healthier!

    Lucas for the fun vegetables poster.

    Philippa for all her charming drawings.

    How to Use the CD-ROM

    The CD-ROM contains a PDF file, labelled ‘Let's Learn About Healthy Eating.pdf’ which consists of worksheets for each lesson in this resource. You will need Acrobat Reader version 3 or higher to view and print these resources.

    There are also pages that contain live links to each website mentioned in this book. You will need an active connection to the internet to utilise the live links. If you click on the link you wish to acces, it will open the page in your browser window.

    To photocopy the worksheets directly from this book, set your photocopier to enlarge by 125% and align the edge of the page to be copied against the leading edge of the copier glass (usually indicated by an arrow).

  • Appendix

    Some Useful Books and Websites
    Bull, Jane (2002) The Cooking Book, Dorling Kindersley.
    Interesting ideas and recipes for fun food to make at school and home.
    Chambers, Catherine (1996) Grasses, Evans, London.
    This book gives interesting information about different kinds of grasses, what we get from them and what we can do with them.
    Gibson, Ray (1990) Kitchen Fun from the ‘You and Your child’ series, Usborne, London
    Lots of fun ideas for children to make interesting foods.
    Robinson, Sally (2005) Healthy Eating in Primary Schools, London: Paul Chapman Publishing/ A Lucky Duck Book.
    Smith, Kathryn (Editor) (1992) Food Facts Additives, Wayland.
    For teachers and older children, full of facts about additives old and new.
    Stoppard, Miriam (1992) First Food Made Fun, Dorling Kindersley, London. Though this book is intended for babies and toddlers it has great ideas for presenting foods in an interesting and fun way. There are recipes too.
    Steer, Gina (1995) Burgers and Hot Dogs, Quintet Publishing, London. Wonderful ways for healthy burgers and hot dogs.
    Woolfitt, Gabrielle (1994) What's Cooking?Wayland Publishers Ltd., Hove, UK. Mainly for Key Stage 2 and older, this book has healthy ideas and recipes as well as some food science.
    Websites
    http://www.health24.com/dietnfood/Water_centre/15-167-166.asp Information on: water, diet and nutrition, water and children, water and your body.
    http://www.hdra.org.uk/ for information about organics
    For a healthy living plate of food with explanations of portion size, visit website: http://www.healthyliving.gov.uk/healthyeating/index.cfm?contentid=1465
    For information about recycling visit: http://www.greenchoices.org/recycling.html
    Jamie Oliver's website is: http://www.jamieoliver.net
    Fact Sheet: The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

    The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is part of the 5 A DAY programme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

    Under the Scheme, all four to six year old children in LEA maintained infant, primary and special schools will be entitled to a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. It was introduced after the NHS Plan 2000 included a commitment to implement a national school fruit scheme by 2004.

    Following the success of the early pilots, £42million from the New Opportunities Fund, the largest of the lottery good cause distributors, has been supporting the expansion of the scheme region by region. By April 2004, the scheme was available in the West Midlands, London, the North West, the East Midlands and the North East, covering one million children. The Department of Health in January 2004 announced it would take over funding, at a cost of £77million over the next two years. The remaining regions of South East, South West, Yorkshire & the Humber, and East of England will join the scheme in Autumn Term 2004.

    In September carrots and tomatoes were added to apples, pears, bananas & easy-peel citrus, and so the Scheme's name has changed to the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme.

    This information and more from the following website:

    http://www.5aday.nhs.uk

    Fact Sheet: Hens and Eggs

    Abridged from http://www.vegsoc.org/info/laying.html

    There are over 33 million laying hens in the UK.

    About 85% are kept in battery cages.

    Alternatives systems are percheries (aviaries) and free-range systems.

    Only about 10% of laying hens in the UK are free-range but this is likely to increase.

    Battery Hens

    Cages are arranged in rows of three to six tiers inside huge sheds without windows. There can be as many as 30,000 birds in one shed. Heating, ventilation and lighting are all automatically controlled. Egg-laying is promoted by light and so artificial lighting is kept on for 17 hours a day to help increase production. Feeding and watering is also automated and can contain animal products and growth promoting antibiotics, yolk colourings and additives.

    Percheries

    The hens are kept in large windowless sheds with several rows of perches at different heights. The floor will be partly covered with litter (wood shavings or straw) and nest boxes are provided. Percheries are often old battery sheds that have been converted. Eggs from percheries are called barn eggs.

    Free-Range

    About three million hens are free-range. Traditional free-range involves smaller flocks which are housed in moveable houses in fields with access to the open air where they can peck for additional food.

    Sadly, 10% of these are commercial systems with massive flocks in huge sheds. These hens must have access through holes to open-air runs with not more than 1,000 birds per hectare.

    Fact Sheet: Salt

    For more information visit http://www.davidgregory.org/salt.htm

    The amount of salt we consume depends on our individual eating habits, but typically about 20 per cent of our salt intake is from foods that naturally contain salt, such as eggs, meat and fish.

    At the table, a typical person adds an estimated 15 per cent of his or her intake to food. The remainder of the salt in our diet is added during cooking or comes from processed foods.

    Many foods contribute to total salt intake without being perceived as being salty. For example, white bread and cornflakes both contain salt but, unlike potato crisps or nuts, the salt is contained within the food and not on the surface, where it is more easily detected.

    In the UK White Paper ‘Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation’ (1999) the UK Government affirmed a commitment to explore the scope for reducing the salt content of processed foods as part of its action to reduce the death rate from cardiovascular disease (CVD). The US authorities recommend limiting sodium intake to 100 mmol (2.4 g/day) equivalent to 6 g salt/day.

    The British Heart Foundation suggests a lower limit of 1.6 g salt a day and an upper limit of 6 g, and calls for more informative food labelling.

    The UK Food Standards Agency (May 2003) has, for the first time, issued salt intake targets to which children's salt consumption should be reduced. The advice is based on the SACN Report. Recommendations are made on the ‘Daily target average salt intakes’ for children, according to their age. The new advice recommends:

    • for children aged 0–6 months, the aim should be less than 1 gram a day
    • 7–12 months, 1 gram/day
    • 1–3 years, 2 grams/day
    • 4–6 years, 3 grams/day
    • 7–10 years, 5 grams/day
    • 11–14 years, 6 grams/day.

    The levels of current average intake for children of four and above are almost certainly higher than these targets. Children's salt consumption is relatively higher than that of adults for their weight.

    For more information, see website: http://www.ifst.org/hottop17.htm

    Fact Sheet: Fats

    From http://www.health-alliance.com/nn/hheguide/intro_4.html

    There are two important aspects to the fat in our diets. One is the quantity of fat and the other is the quality of the fat. Small amounts of some fats are beneficial. The chart below shows how some of the fats are categorized.

    Monounsaturated fats come from plant sources. They are usually liquid at room temperature. Overall, these fats tend to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. They help to maintain or slightly raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

    Polyunsaturated fats are also from plant sources. They are usually liquid at room temperature. Their overall effect is to lower total cholesterol and LDL in the blood. They may also slightly lower HDL.

    Dietary cholesterol is present in all foods of animal origin such as meat, fish, poultry, egg yolks and high fat dairy products. There is no cholesterol in vegetables, fruits, nuts or grains. Dietary cholesterol has less effect on raising and lowering blood cholesterol than the saturated fat does.

    Saturated fats are found in foods of animal origin (meat, fish, poultry and high fat dairy products). They are also present in palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and hydrogenated vegetable oils. They are usually solid at room temperature. Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol, particularly LDL.

    Hydrogenated fats are liquid oils processed to a solid form, such as vegetable shortening. They give processed foods a longer shelf life. Although they are made from vegetable oil, the process results in the formation of trans fatty acids that are thought to be as harmful as animal fats. Foods made with fully hydrogenated fats should be avoided.

    Partially hydrogenated fats are liquid oils processed to a somewhat solid form. Margarines and many processed foods such as crackers, cookies and convenience mixes are made with partially hydrogenated oils. Usually, the degree of hydrogenation is unknown. Foods containing partially hydrogenated fats should be limited.

    Fact Sheet: How a Change in Diet Can Help Lower Blood Cholesterol

    A diet high in total fat and saturated fat can contribute to high levels of cholesterol in your blood. Reducing total fat in your diet will help lower your blood cholesterol. Replacing the saturated fat with moderate amounts of unsaturated fat can lower the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and may slightly raise good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

    A Low Fat Diet

    Choose lean, protein-rich foods – soy, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and fat free or 1% dairy products.

    Eat foods that are naturally low in fat – like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

    Get plenty of soluble fibre – with oats, bran, dry peas, beans, cereal, and rice.

    Limit your consumption of fried foods, processed foods, and commercially prepared baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers).

    Limit animal products such as egg yolks, cheeses, whole milk, cream, ice cream, and fatty meats (and large portions of meats).

    Look at food labels, especially for the level of saturated fat. Avoid or limit foods high in saturated fat (more than 20% on the label).

    Look on food labels for words such as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ – these foods are loaded with saturated fats and trans-fatty acids and should be avoided.

    Liquid vegetable oil, soft margarine and trans fatty acid-free margarine are preferable to butter, stick margarine or shortening.

    Fact Sheet: Five Portions of Fruit or Veg a Day
    What is a Portion?

    One glass of fruit juice (however many you have, it is still one portion)

    one apple, pear, banana, orange, nectarine or peach

    one slice of melon

    half an avocado or grapefruit

    two plums; a large piece of cucumber

    an 80g portion of cauliflower or broccoli

    one tomato, pepper or a large onion.

    Three heaped tablespoons of any vegetable, for example, peas, carrots, sweetcorn. Three heaped tablespoons of beans or pulses.

    For more information about portion sizes see the following website: http://www.5aday.nhs.uk and click on the ‘What counts as a portion?’ link.

    As part of a healthy balanced diet we are recommended to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced (but fruit juice only counts as a maximum of one portion a day). Dried fruit such as currants, sultanas, raisins, dates and figs provide energy in the form of sugar and are a good source of fibre. They also contain other vitamins and minerals, but not vitamin C, which is found in fresh fruit. A portion of dried fruit is one heaped tablespoon. This is less than a portion of fresh fruit because it's based on the equivalent weight of fresh fruit.

    From http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/foodmyths/

    What about Tinned and Frozen Fruit and Vegetables?

    Modern freezing preserves the healthy ingredients so frozen fruit and vegetables can be better than fresh produce that has been left out at room temperature for a long time.

    Tinned vegetables and fruit, and dried fruit such as raisins, are also acceptable.

    How Can We Increase Our Daily Intake?

    It's a good idea to:

    • have a bowl of fruit set out to make it easy to get an apple, orange or pear
    • never serve a meal without including at least one vegetable or piece of fruit.

    More information from the following websites:

    http://www.5aday.nhs.uk (click on the ‘Health Professionals’ link on the home page)

    http://www.thinkvegetables.co.uk invites you to download images of up to 35 different vegetables.

    Fact Sheet: Caffeine

    Caffeine is a mild stimulant that occurs naturally in coffee and cocoa beans, tea leaves and kola nuts (the basic ingredient in colas).

    Too much caffeine can elevate your heart rate and make you anxious for a few hours until the drug has had a chance to work its way out of your system, although people who take caffeine regularly are generally less sensitive to its effects.

    This buzz may keep you awake at night, but it won't sober you up if you've been drinking.

    Caffeine also stimulates the flow of stomach acid, so it may aggravate ulcers.

    Experts disagree whether it is addictive, but many studies show that caffeine junkies do experience withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, drowsiness and a lack of concentration, when they miss their fix.

    Children can get hooked too. One study found that 8 to 12-year-olds who had been getting the equivalent of three cans of cola a day had shorter attention spans for a week when their caffeine supply was taken away. Cutting back gradually can help you avoid symptoms.

    Many medications, including some pain relievers, cold and allergy remedies, and appetite-control pills, contain caffeine as well.

    The important point to remember is that caffeine, like many other substances, is not harmful when taken in moderation. However, if taken to excess, then it may cause problems in some people. For more information visit http://nootropics.com/caffeine/faq.html

    Sources of Caffeine

    The richest sources of caffeine are tea, coffee, cola drinks, some over-the-counter medications, chocolate and cocoa.

    As little as 20 mgs of caffeine can produce noticeable body and mood changes. As a rough guide to how much caffeine you may be taking on a daily basis…

    • An average cup of tea contains around 60 mgs of caffeine.
    • A cup of instant coffee contains over 100 mgs. Instant decaffeinated coffee contains about 3 mgs.
    • Brewed coffee can contain 25–50% more caffeine than instant. Espresso coffee can have a higher concentration of caffeine and it is assimilated more quickly.
    • A 12 oz can of regular or diet cola contains between 35 and 45 mgs. of caffeine depending on the brand.
    • One ounce of chocolate contains about 15 mgs.

    http://www.pe2000.com/caffeine.htm

    Fact Sheet: Sugar

    Visit http://www.sucrose.com/lhist.html

    The sugar that is produced from sugar cane is identical to sugar that is derived from the sugar beet.

    Sugar Cane

    Sugar cane grows in tropical and subtropical climates and more than half of the world's supply of sugar comes from sugar cane. Harvesting of cane is often done by machines that top the canes at a uniform height, cut them off at ground level, and deposit them in rows but in Florida it is mainly cut by hand.

    Cane sugar is made by grinding the stalks, shredding them through toothed rollers and then boiling the liquid until it is like a thick syrup. As the liquid evaporates crystals are formed. When as much sugar as possible has crystallized in the syrup, the mixture is spun in a centrifuge, which separates it from the remaining syrup (now called molasses). The raw sugar is then dissolved again into crystals of various sizes. It can be made into powdered, granulated and lump sugar as well as brown sugars, which contain some molasses.

    The remaining molasses is not wasted but used to make ethanol and rum, as a table syrup and food flavouring, as food for farm animals, and in the manufacture of several processed tobaccos.

    Sugar Beet

    Sugar beet is a kind of beetroot, a member of the goosefoot family and is grown in a temperate climate. Sugar beet is the chief source of sugar for most of Europe and is grown extensively in Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France, and Poland). About two-fifths of all sugar is made from sugar beet.

    After the leaves and tops have been removed, the roots are cut into chips at the sugar factory. These are then crushed to remove the juice. The juice is processed, refined and bleached to produce sugar. It is processed similar to sugar production from sugar cane. The pulp that remains is used as food for animals. Beet molasses is fed to livestock.

    The sugars found naturally in whole fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugar is contained within the structure of the fruit. But, when fruit is juiced or blended, the sugar is released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth, especially if fruit juice is drunk frequently.

    But fruit juice is still a healthy choice. One glass (150ml) counts as one of the five fruit and veg portions we should all be aiming for each day.

    To help keep teeth healthy, it's best to have fruit juice at mealtimes, particularly for children. Milk or water are good choices for children to drink between meals. http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/foodmyths/

    Fact Sheet: Chocolate

    See http://www.chocolate.org/

    This is made from the fruits of the cacao tree (cocoa beans). Cacao beans were used by the Aztecs in South America to prepare to a hot, frothy beverage with stimulant and restorative properties. Chocolate itself was reserved for warriors, nobility and priests. The Aztecs esteemed its reputed ability to confer wisdom and vitality.

    In 1519 the Spanish adventurer Hernán Cortés was given a hot chocolate drink made from cocoa beans by Aztecs. Cortés took it back to Spain and it spread through Europe as a drink.

    It was not until 1847 that the first ‘chocolate for eating’ was produced by Fry and Sons of Bristol.

    The first milk chocolate, prepared by adding powdered milk to the pressed cocoa bean, was produced in Switzerland in 1875.

    The first step in chocolate-making is to harvest ripe pods of cocoa beans; these are split to release the beans which are fermented in heaps or boxes for about a week before being dried for export.

    In the chocolate factory, the beans are roasted, broken down into small pieces and the shells are removed. The cocoa bits are ground to form chocolate mass – a thick liquid that solidifies on cooling.

    This is then mixed with additional cocoa butter (extracted in the manufacture of cocoa powder), sugar and vanilla. Milk is then added to make milk chocolate.

    In the United Kingdom up to 5 per cent vegetable oil is added, to compensate for variations in cocoa butter and to ensure that the texture is consistent.

    In most other European countries no vegetable oil is added in the manufacture of chocolate. The mixture is then mixed, and carefully beaten to make sure that the fat and sugar crystallize in a stable form.

    Chocolate is source of energy with only a small amount of nutrients, a little iron, a lot of fat and sugar.

    Fact Sheet: Reasons to Go Organic

    © Ysanne Spevack – adapted from the http://Organicfood.co.uk website http://www.organicfood.co.uk/topten.html

    Organic produce is not covered in poisonous chemicals. The average apple has 20–30 artificial poisons on its skin, even after rinsing. Trust your instincts and go organic!

    Fresh organic produce contains on average 50% more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than intensively farmed produce. Science says that it's good for you.

    Going organic is the only practical way to avoid eating genetically modified (GM) food.

    If you eat dairy or meat products, going organic has never been more essential to safeguard you and your family's health. Intensively-reared dairy cows and farm animals are fed antibiotics, hormones, anti-parasite drugs and other medicines on a daily basis, whether they are ill or not.

    About 99% of non-organic farm animals in the UK are now fed GM soya. Common sense says that organic is safe food.

    Organic produce simply tastes so much better. Fruit and vegetables full of juice and flavour, and so many different varieties to try! There are about 100 different kinds of organic potatoes in production in the UK, and that's just potatoes!

    Organic farms support and nurture our beautiful and diverse wildlife. Over the last thirty years, intensive farming in the UK has led to dramatic erosion of the soil, a fall of up to 70% of wild birds in some areas, the destruction of ancient hedgerows, and the near extinction of some of the most beautiful species of butterflies, frogs, grass-snakes and wild mammals.

    We spend billion of pounds every year cleaning up the mess that agro-chemicals make to our natural water supply. Go organic for a genuine more cost-effective future.

    Intensive farming can seriously damage farm workers' health. There are much higher instances of cancer, respiratory problems and other major diseases in farm workers from non-organic farms. This is particularly true in developing countries, and for agrochemical farms growing cotton.

    And if you simply like the idea of your children and grandchildren being able to visit the countryside and play in the forests and fields just like we did when we were young, go organic for the sake of all of our futures.

    More information from the website: http://www.hdra.org.uk

    Fact Sheet: Composting
    Why Should We Compost?

    Because:

    • 25% of all household waste could be composted
    • the finished compost is excellent garden fertilizer and it costs nothing
    • making garden and food waste into compost cuts down on the rubbish that has to be transported to landfill sites.
    How Do I Compost?

    You'll need some kind of container. You can make one out of wood; it needs closed sides and a lid; a lift out wall section for getting finished compost out is ideal. You'll need to get at the compost to aerate it occasionally.

    Most local authorities sell compost bins.

    What Can I Compost?

    All organic matter from your kitchen and garden.

    Where Should I Put the Bin?

    Somewhere within easy reach all year round, preferably on soil which allows earthworms in to aerate the compost.

    How Does Composting Actually Work?

    Organic waste is rotted down through the activity of microbes and bacteria. They need the right levels of moisture and air to work effectively.

    Ensure air can reach all the contents of the bin – you may have to turn it or try sticking a garden fork in, pushing back and forth to clear a central vent, every few weeks.

    The contents of the compost bin should be moist. You may have to add water from time to time. Keep the lid on to prevent rain making it too wet. The compost will get quite hot and this indicates that the bacteria is working effectively.

    When is it Ready?

    When it looks like crumbly dark soil. Access it through the wall section. If you have a plastic bin, access it through the bottom hatch or simply lift the compost bin off the heap and remove with a shovel. Unfinished compost should go back in. It is better to have two or three bins on the go at the same time. One to fill, one to turn, one to use.

    http://www.greenchoices.org/gardening.html#compost

    Fact Sheet: Olives and Olive Oil in Greece

    For more information visit http://www.olivesetal.co.uk

    The first known cultivation of the olive tree worldwide took place in Crete about 3500 BC in early Minoan times. At this time the olive tree was much wilder compared to the tree we know today. After 2000 BC cultivation soon began in mainland Greece and olive oil became part of Greek cooking down through the centuries. The olive tree was a symbol in ancient Greece and olive oil was used for its valuable nutritional quality and also for medical purposes. Between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC ancient philosophers, physicians and historians knew the curative properties of olive oil. This knowledge is being ‘rediscovered’ today as scientists research why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.

    The symbolic meaning of the olive tree is illustrated by the first Olympic Games, at Olympia in 776 BC, when an olive branch was awarded to the winners to symbolise a truce in any hostilities.

    Today, Greece has become the world's most important exporter of quality olive oil. Often, when a child is born, parents plant an olive tree which will grow and develop along with the child. When the child is six and starts school, the olive tree is ready to produce its fruit. The tree will outlive the family and will still be around to be tended by the future generations.

    Olives in Corfu are harvested from November until April. Some olives are beaten from the tree with poles and caught in large nets. Other olive farmers now harvest by machine or use trunk and branch shakers. The olives are taken at once to an olive press or they will begin to oxidise and ferment. Thousands of years ago, crushing was done by hand in spherical stone basins. Today olives are crushed by mechanical stainless steel grindstones. It takes five kilos of olives to make one litre of oil. It is the cold press method that enables olive oil to maintain its flavour, colour and nutritional value. Olive oil is the only oil that can be used as soon as it is removed from the fruit.

    Did you know?

    • Greeks consume more olive oil per head than any other nation.
    • The olive oil market in Britain is growing at a rate of 25% per annum.
    • Only one tablespoon of olive oil will wipe out the cholesterol raising effects of two eggs.
    • 4 or 5 tablespoons of olive oil daily improves the blood profiles of heart attack patients
    • 2/3 of a tablespoon of olive oil daily lowers blood pressure in men.
    • Olive oil consumption in Britain is 1.3 litres per person per year; in Greece it is 25 litres
    • 70% of Greek olive oil production is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
    Fact Sheet: Cheese Making

    Milks from different species of mammals (cows, goats, sheep buffalo) can be used to make cheese. Milk consists of protein, fat, lactose, minerals. The process of making cheese is an ancient craft that dates back thousands of years.

    Cheese making starts either by natural souring of the milk or by adding a starter culture, together with a coagulant, for example, rennet. This turns the milk into soft curd and when the whey is removed, by straining or running off, a firm curd is left. This cheese is salted, moulded and pressed. Then it is left to ripen and mature.

    The quality of cheese varies according to the type of milk used. For example, milk containing high total solids (sheep) increases cheese yields and milk high in fat produces softer cheese. The cheese making process has to be modified in relation to the type of milk used.

    Making Cheese from Curdled Milk
    • Milk is carefully selected to make sure there are no antibiotics or harmful agents that could affect the process.
    • The milk is then heated to destroy any harmful bacteria (i.e. pasteurisation).
    • Special starter cultures are then added to the warm milk and change a very small amount of the milk sugar into lactic acid.
    • This acidifies the milk at a much faster rate and prepares it for the next stage.
    • Rennet (mainly chymosin) is then added to the milk and within a short time a curd is produced.
    • The curd is then cut into small cubes, and heated to start a shrinking process which, with the steady production of lactic acid from the starter cultures, will change it into small rice-sized grains.
    • At some point the curd grains fall to the bottom of the cheese vat, the left-over liquid, which consists of water, milk, sugar and albumen (now called whey) is drained off and the curd grains allowed to mat together to form large slabs of curd.
    • The slabs are then milled, and salt is added to provide flavour and help preserve the cheese. Later it is pressed, and subsequently packed in various sized containers for maturing.

    See this website for more about cheese and cheese making: http://137.195.136.5/SDA/cheese2.html

    Fact Sheet: Basket Making

    Abridged from http://www.britishbaskets.co.uk/home

    The art of basket-making was developed hundreds of years ago. In Britain oak, hazel and willow provided material for making the strong rigid containers necessary in everyday life. Fences and houses, too, were built from wickerwork or wattles.

    Where today we use cardboard, plastic or plywood for packing material, two hundred years ago we would have had to use wickerwork. When people gathered fruit and vegetables from the fields, these were put into baskets.

    Wicker was used for packing fish, poultry and dairy produce when they were taken to the town markets.

    Materials such as manure or rubble needed baskets; wicker was used for animal muzzles, bird traps and beer strainers. It was also used for travelling trunks, hat boxes and umbrella holders of the well-to-do.

    Wherever willows grew there would be wicker workshops nearby. Where growing conditions were really good there would be many basket makers, often within a small area of several villages.

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, East Anglia and the East Midlands, the plain of York, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Kent, Bedfordshire and the Thames Valley had a fair number of country workshops, mostly making simple agricultural baskets. The largest and most sophisticated workshops were found in the towns of Lancashire, Somerset, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Guilds of basket-makers were formed.

    Records show that the Worshipful Company of Basket-makers of the City of London was established before 1469. This company was eventually granted a royal charter by George VI in 1937, but by then its old responsibilities had long since been taken on by the trade unions.

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