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Out to Lunch: A Secret Diner's Perspective

Anya Hart Dyke: It can be pretty stressful taking a young child to a restaurant. My daughter is 17 months old so I’m always wondering if there’ll be room for the buggy, if they’ll have high chairs, if I’ll get a chance to eat my own meal or have to get a doggy bag. The last thing you expect to worry about is the food.

06 November 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 0

A revolution in children’s food on the high street is underway

Rob Percival: Two years ago the Out to Lunch campaign recruited a small army of ‘secret diner’ parents to find out what the nation's high street restaurants were serving up to our youngsters. The response from parents was emphatic: "these restaurants would go out of business if they treated their grown-up guests the same."

21 October 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 3

Calling all parents! Volunteer as a restaurant critic

Rob Percival: In 2013, the Soil Association investigated the food served to children in 21 of the biggest and most popular high street chains across the UK. We uncovered a glaring lack of variety and creativity in children’s menus, with healthy eating made difficult by the dominance of chicken nuggets, burgers and sausages, and restaurants failing to provide parents and children with what they want and deserve.

24 June 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 5

Ditch the junk

Kathie Auton: This week Organix is launching the No Junk campaign and are calling on parents to take on the challenge of ditching the junk from their family's food for a week and, instead, feeding the kids with real food. Real food that contains ingredients like 'tomatoes' instead of polymonoglockenspieldioxide*. They want us to read the label and reject any food that has ingredients we don't recognise or can't spell.

28 April 2014 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 4

Out to Lunch with River Cottage

Amy Leech: Fed up with the usual suspects and chips dominating kid’s menus? We definitely are. That's why we're campaigning in partnership with Organix to improve the food and service high street restaurants offer their young guests. Perhaps our chains could learn a thing or two from the independents on the block? In the coming months I’ll be talking to the chefs behind the meals on the kids' menu at restaurants and cafes around the country, to find out their views on catering for families. This month I had the pleasure of catching up with Mark Stavrakakis, Head Chef at River Cottage Canteen in Bristol. Founded by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Canteen believes strongly in providing nutritious and delicious meals for their youngest critics.

06 December 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 2

Our favourite restaurant...

Kathie Auton: You know that moment when you, as a kiddie food blogger and passionate supporter of good food for children, hear your 5 year old tell the nation that their favourite restaurant in Burger King*... No? Well I do... Today saw the launch of the results of the Soil Association and Organix's survey into how the nation's chain restaurants are treating our kids and Alex got the opportunity to express his views on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours.

18 July 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 1

The results are in...

Kathie Auton: There's going to be some back patting and some head hanging this week. The Soil Association and Organix are revealing the results of detailed, undercover research into how the nation's chain restaurants are serving our children. For Out to Lunch, parents have been out there eating, asking questions, spotting highs and lows and jotting it all down. And now we have a league table. The top picks will be proud, but what about the bottom, will they take it on the chin and rethink their policies or will they have the excuses ready?

17 July 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 6

It’s all a matter of context…

Kathie Auton: So, I’ve been out for my two research meals as an undercover eater (or something), one of around 50 parents doing this for the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign. Two very different meals, I should say. Some highs, some lows and a whole lot of food... for thought. A few weeks ago I wrote about the whole eating-out-with-kids game. The Soil Association were recruiting volunteers for their research into what’s on offer in restaurants for our kids. The team of volunteers are now duly recruited and are out there in restaurants with their kids, answering the 13 salient questions and trying to subtlety write things down with coming across all Jay Rayner about it.

14 May 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 3

Trust in our instincts

Rob Haward: It’s not often you hear Churchill quoted at a Soil Association conference but I found it heartening to hear Helen Browning use his words to describe the role that science should play in the future of food and farming – ‘on tap, not on top’. Organic farmers and growers, supported ably by the Soil Association, have a proud history of trusting extinct over accepted scientific ‘wisdom’. In the pursuit of innovation based on a sound evidence base we must be wary that we don’t lose the confidence to make judgements based on common sense, instinct and sound principles.

02 March 2012 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 4

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