A major concern for our food and water in society today is contamination. “Food and water deliver a complex mixture of natural and synthetic chemicals to human body at every meal” (Wargo, 1998). In 1984 the estimation of government permitted food additives was approximately 8,627 with an additional 1,800 pesticides to remain as residues (Wargo, 1998). According to John Wargo’s book, Our Children’s Toxic Legacy, he states, “Pesticide residues in food touch nearly every human on earth on every day, often as a complex mixture of contaminants” (Wargo, 1998). Looking at what that means for our students would require looking at what foods they consume regularly. Children consume different foods than adults, which means that the government averages on food intake are not accurate in that they did not take into account the food-by-food differences along with population consumption differences (Wargo, 1998). In general the middle school student’s diet consists mainly of wheat flour, beef and potatoes (Wargo, 1998). We as a school must evaluate what the student’s at Fair Haven consume daily to accurately assess their risks.
Having the students learn about these risks and discussing the importance of knowing what we are eating will help to motivate them in discovering what they consume daily and how they can effect change. We will encourage the students to discover what affects our food and water supply and eventually affects our overall health. Students should be aware of how these contaminants make their way into our food and water and what steps should be taken to prevent this. Providing informational materials on contamination and pesticide usage to the Science departments will be necessary, since this topic will be best addressed in this content area. The issues to be discussed and critiqued in regards to protecting oneself should include, poor nutrition, disease and the dangers of having full faith in what is in our foods and water supply as a nation.
Once students have discovered the different ways contamination makes its way into our water and food supply and research ways for protection. Learning about the immediate or slow coming dangers contaminants have on the body will enforce the practicality of this knowledge for them. The students will explore the various ways contaminants make their way to New Haven, but for the purpose of practicality, the focus of study will be around the Fair Haven neighborhood. In this way the students can truly assess what contaminants could possibly affects them directly and how they contribute to contamination directly or indirectly.
Evaluating The Fair Haven Community
Students will look into New Haven’s water supply. They will explore Long Island Sound and what resources and dangers it faces. Students will tour the waters and explore the risks first hand.
A tour of the Public Works water supply will be given so that students can gain first hand knowledge of where their water comes from and the process it goes through before it makes it into their homes and neighborhoods. With the knowledge the students have gained they will be able to make informed questions as to how New Haven goes about protecting its water supply. Ultimately students will learn the route of water and how the ground, runoff and human contamination through accidents or lack of knowledge all play a role in water protection.
Students will take their knowledge gained and write essays based on their discoveries, this will involve the English departments assistance and input. The student who writes the most comprehensive and well thought out essay will have it published in the school newsletter to be sent home.
Once students have discovered how the water supply operates they will then take steps in discovering ways that contaminants make it into our water that are beyond the control of the precautions already taken by our protective agencies. They will accompany the teacher on neighborhood walks, looking at local body shops, stores and playgrounds. Students will discover the ways they may contribute or protect our neighborhoods and connect this to the affects they have on our water, food and ultimately our body.
As they progress through these lessons students will chart and graph with the math teacher how likely the water of Fair Haven is to be contaminated and what the major contributors are. Once this is done students can begin to determine the protective steps that can be taken for improvement. The art teacher will work with the students on making posters and flyers to be posted around the school and the community as a focus of awareness. The English teacher will work with these students on an article for the newsletter that contains information about contamination and ways to protect our food, water and bodies. The guidance and health support staff will collaborate on healthy living sessions where students can gain information about the importance of proper cleaning and hygiene when dealing with food.
Students will then receive their final lesson in cooking class to further enforce this issue. For the purpose of truly understanding food we will prepare a meal from scratch, breaking down the foods origin, likelihood for contamination and nutritional value. During this lesson we will compare food items purchased in a local grocery store, local farm and organically grown food markets and evaluate and publish the results discovered in the newsletter.
Lastly, students will visit and tour a local organic farm. During this visit the farmers will take the students through the step-by-step process of how they work to protect the food they grow. Students can gain experience in how these farms differ from others and how the food grown locally and organically differs from store purchased items. The culmination of all the material provided and the information absorbed will allow the students to make an analysis of what value our society places on protecting its foods and its overall population.
The issue of how a student’s daily decisions regarding their diet choices affect their lives and lifestyle will be a key focus in each of these lessons. Understanding the concept of how the more informed we are on what and when we eat can help us to make better choices for our bodies. Based on this premise students should be able to improve their decision-making abilities in regards to diet. They will be able to evaluate who and what influences their diet choices and why that is. Providing this opportunity for information acquisition and self-assessment will allow students to individually improve their diet and health problems and decision-making on their terms and with their specific objectives.