We need government to help regulate the food industry by passing effective laws and making sure that they are followed. The track record has been good in some areas and somewhat contradictory in others. In doing research on the web, I noticed that companies are aware of consumers concerns about the environment. Many include on their web sites information about how they are trying to be environmentally friendly whether by not damaging rain forests, or by limiting use of pesticides. Whether to believe their claims is another lesson for students to learn.
Still relying on government to handle all the problems with the quality of our food supply is not the whole answer. Government is sometimes unwilling to step in between the consumer and the manufacturer, or farmer. Powerful lobbies have great influence on policy issues but the public’s health and trust in the food supply is something that cannot be compromised. Hopefully students will see that citizens working together they can help direct government into action.
I would hope that students would begin to understand that being a citizen requires that they actively participate in what is happening. If they have environmental concerns weather about the quality of water, the use of pesticides, or labeling on school lunches, they need to see how they can make their views heard. I would like to have students investigate, either the school food program, or a fast food restaurant they eat at and research what they do to provide nutritious and healthy food to children. They would write letters to the manufacturers and public officials about their concerns. In the case of the school system, we could try to invite someone to speak to the class about how the food program is giving them good quality food and a balanced diet.
Students need to know that they have a duty to keep informed about issues in the community and a responsibility to speak out when they see something that is wrong.
Lesson Plan #1
Introducing the Food Pyramid
To have students become familiar with the food pyramid by having them categorize foods they listed on their food diaries onto a blank pyramid. To help students assess the healthiness of their food selections.
Copy of the food Pyramid. (You can print copies of the food pyramid for you class from the USDA website.)
Blank copy of a food pyramid
Copy of student’s previously completed food diary
1.Give students a blank copy of the food pyramid. Make sure they have their food diaries.
Make sure each child has a copy of the food pyramid or that the classroom has one displayed so that children can see it from their seats.
Review the parts of the pyramid.
Have students begin to fill in each of the areas of the pyramid with appropriate selections. Circulate through the classroom to help students who might be having a problem.
Help students to summarize what they see on their individual charts by writing three or four statements abut what they notice about their pyramid.
The following are suggested questions:
Are there any areas of the pyramid that you left blank?
What area did you eat the most from?
Was their one favorite vegetable that you ate more than once during the week?
Is you pyramid heavy on the bottom choices and smaller as you get to the top?
Collect the charts and keep them. Have the students display them if they wish. As the unit progresses give the students another diary and see if their choices improve.
Lesson Plan #2
by Nottridge, p. 8 - 9)
to see how additives change the look, taste and feel of food. Students will bake 2 cakes: one with additives and one without. Students will compare the cakes.
Ingredients for cake 1 (with additives)
¾ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
½ cup margarine, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for cake 2 (without additives)
¾ cup plain flour
1 cup white sugar
½ cup margarine
2/3 cup milk
Instructions for making the cakes: Mix the flour and other dry ingredients together. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the eggs and the melted chocolate in batch 1.Beat well for about 2 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients and beat for one minute. Pour the mixtures into greased round cake pans and bake in an oven for about 45 minutes at 350°
1. Have students predict in their science journals what will happen to the 2 cakes will they be the same or different? How and why? You may have a short discussion with them and allow them to offer their suggestion. Then have them write their opinions down.
2. Make the cakes - if possible at school.
3. Have students look at the cakes. What looks different? Write down their observations. Have students write in their science journal what the cakes look like. Have them illustrate with a drawing of each cake.
4. Cut the cake and give each child a piece of each.
5. How does the inside look? Again they should list their observations and illustrate.
6. Have students taste each cake. Again they should record their observations.
7. Finally how does the cake feel? Is it light or heavy? Is it thick or gummy? Again write down any observations. Which cake did they prefer? Was the use of additives a good one in this case?
Lesson Plan #3
Soda Taste Test
(The idea for this taste test was taken from
by Marion Nestle p. 180)
Objective: To see if students can recognize their preferred brand of cola: Coke, Pepsi or a store brand cola.
Materials: A bottle of Coke, Pepsi, and a store brand cola
Talley sheet to record each child’s stated preference
1. Record each child’s preference for their favorite drink between Coke, Pepsi, or the store bought cola.
2. Set up a taste test with a cup of each cola.
3. Have students one by one come and taste the samples and identify which is their favorite. Record their choices.
4. After each child has had a turn review the statistics. How any students picked out their favorite cola?
5. To those who were unable to choose their cola what does this show them?
Marion Nestle, in her book
, mentions that a group of students did this test to see the power of advertising. In their results 73% of the 6th and 7th graders tested could not identify their cola by taste, and 27% ranked the little known store brand as their favorite. (p. 180) I feel that similar results would probably happen with most students.
Belasco, Warren and Philip Scranton, ed.
Food Nation: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies,
New York, Routledge Press, 2002. Tells about the food habits of different societies from Canada to the U.S. to Mexico.
Hartzog, John Daniel.
Everyday Science Experiments with Food
, New York.PowerKids Press, 2000. Provides experiments that explore scientific phenomena occurring with food.
Hoff, Mary & Mary M. Rodgers.
Our Endangered Planet: Rivers and Lakes
, Minneapolis: Learner Publications Co., 1991. Alerts the reader to the dangers of surface water pollution and the global imperative to keep those waters fresh.
Issues for the 90s: Managing Toxic Wastes
, New Jersey: Simon & Schuster, 1989. Discusses toxic wastes, their effects on the environment, their handling and disposal, and government regulation of such pollutants.
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition& Health,
University of California Press, 2002. This is an excellent account of the Nutrition policy of the U.S. and the moral and ethical aspects of food industries and trade.
, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1993. Focuses on food additives, discussing the different kinds, their uses, and whether they are harmful. Includes recipes and activities.
Food & Farming
, New York: Thomson Learning, 1989. Discusses the worldwide farming industry, its principal crops, the effect of agriculture on the environment, and future trends.
, New York: Macmillan Pu0blishing, 1977. An inside look at the day-to-day operations of forty typical stores.
Fast Food Nation
, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2002. Discusses the rise of the fast food industry in America and how this change in the Americans eat has influenced our food supply and physical health.
Van Cleave, Janice.
Janice Van Cleave’s Food & Nutrition For Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun
, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999. Uses problems, experiments and activities to present information on a variety of topics related to foods and nutrition.
Baer, Edith, Steve Bjorkman.
This is the Way We Eat Our Lunch
. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995. Kids are taken across America and around the world to see the various lunch preferences of children from different cultures.
(chart available in print form)
D.W. the Picky Eater
. Boston: Little, 1995. Arthur’s sister D.W. is a picky eater. The family leaves her at home when they go out to eat until D.W. decides she might be missing something good by being so picky.
Everybody Cooks Rice
. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1991. Anthony is late for dinner so his sister goes from house to house trying to find him. In each house families are preparing rice in a different way. The book emphasizes the different tastes of rice when prepared by different ethnic groups. There are also recipes at the end from the Barbados, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, and Italy.
What Food is This?
New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1994. Fish, sausage, carrots, and many other foods are detailed in this tale of food origins. This book is educational as well as fun for the whole family.
The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day.
New York: Holiday house, 1994. At the Edible Pyramid restaurant, guests learn about all the foods they can eat from USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid.
Macho Nacho and Other Rhyming Riddles
. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1994. This book is filled with rhyming riddles, many of which are riddles about food.
Bread, Bread, Bread.
New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard. 1989 Using pictures this book shows the wide variety of breads from around the world.
How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World
. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. The super market is closed so the reader is taken on a journey around the world to get the ingredients to make an apple pie.
Rattigan, Jama Kim.
. Boston, Little, Brown& Co., 1993. A young Hawaiian girl tries to make dumpling soup for her family’s New Year’s celebration.
Make Me a Peanut Butter Sandwich and a Glass of Milk.
Scholastic, Inc. 1992. This book describes the production of three foods: peanut butter, bread, and milk… from the farm to the manufacturing plant to the store to the home.
1 Schlosser, Eric:
Fast Food Nation,
2 Schlosser, p. 43.
3 Schlosser, p. 43.
4 Schlosser, p. 51
5 Schlosser, p. 56
6 Nestle, Marion:
7 Nestle, p.22
8 Nestle, p. 25
9 Nestle, p. 19
10 Nestle, p.20
11 Van Cleave, p. 6
12 Van Cleave, p. 11
13 Van Cleave, p. 13
14 Van Cleave, p. 13
15 Van Cleave, p. 17
16 Van Cleave, p. 18
17 Van Cleave, p. 18
18 Van Cleave, p. 27-28
19 Van Cleave, p. 28
20 Van Cleave, p. 35-36
21 Van Cleave, p. 43-44
22 Van Cleave, p. 44
23 Nestle, p.17 - 18
24 Nestle, p.18
25 Nottridge, Rhoda:
26 Nottridge, p.10 - 11
27 Nottridge, p. 13
28 Nottridge, p. 13
29 Nottridge, p. 15 - 16
30 Nottridge, p. 19
31 Van Cleave, p. 145
32 Van Cleave, p. 164