I'm lucky to own a bookcase full of cookbooks; many of them designed for children. All of them, I love dearly for their own reasons but Mission:Explore Food has to be my new-found favourite; simply because it is more, so incredibly more than just another cookbook - it's also a guide, a field book, and 'atlas' to what we grow, eat, and inevitably poo back out again.
The book is packed full of recipes, missions, facts, games and hands-on experiments for the most inquisitive of children to lose themselves into. Mission:Explore has been cleverly written by The Geography Collective, who are a team of teachers, academics, artists and explorers; in partnership with City Farmers and illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones.
The book is in some ways considered 'controversial' since it (among numerous other things) openly (and with fabulous detail) explains what happens to food after we eat it, gives tips on 'wild pooing', and encourages youngsters to research death (by asking a butcher about animals) Controversial? I applaud it. Not only are children able to learn about our environment and the food cycle, but they are encouraged to get dirty, have fun, embrace the outdoors and learn about keeping safe whilst doing so.
It's a breath of fresh air, in my opinion, and it has had my 2 eldest children completely engrossed. Children can take their discoveries one step further by signing up to www.missionexplore.net to complete more missions and go on further 'slightly warped adventures' (their words, not mine - but rather fitting in many cases!) They can then share their accomplishments with their friends and collect points to unlock rewards. Will they survive?....Probably!
We've been having a go at some of the missions and recipes and have been inspired enough to bring plants into the house that in theory could be used to feed another living thing. I give you our bamboo plant and a coconut plant which is beginning to take over the asylum!
We've also enjoyed using fruits to make healthy smoothies. If foraging is your thing or you fancy having a go, I suggest you take a peek a Liz's blog, Me and My Shadow or
stalk follow her on Twitter as I know she is really into foraging and creating goodies galore with her finds.
I wholeheartedly recommend this fantastically revolting, riveting, hilarious, random, fascinating, exciting and totally cool 'alternative' children's cookbook to all. If there was ever a big children's book I'd recommend for Christmas, it certainly would be this one.
Mission:Explore Food is available from Amazon at £17 at the moment. To find out more, visit www.missionexplore.net
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for the purpose of this review. My opinions remain honest as always.