Back in the early ’90’s when I was teaching first grade, Fridays were Cooking Day. I had a convection oven in the class room, (don’t ask how I got it!) and the class and I would prepare and cook a snack that went along with whatever unit I was teaching. At Halloween time we toasted the pumpkin seeds we’d scraped from our class jack-o-lanterns. When learning fractions we made pizza and sliced it.
When we did a week’s worth of projects centered around the picture book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, we made – what else but cookies.
For frosting, there was vanilla icing and red, blue, and yellow food coloring. I went around with three bottles of food coloring, one each of red, yellow, and blue. The children were given a choice of one drop from each of any two, which they then mixed into the white icing to come up with either orange, green, or purple icing
I like to believe there are about twenty-five 30-year olds walking around San Jose who never forgot their primary and secondary colors.
Not only were these lessons wonderful for demonstrating that food requires preparation of ingredients but were also great hands-on, non-language-based experiences for a class made up of children whose parents had emigrated from Vietnam, China, Thailand, India, and the Philippines. I was teaching what was called Structured English to children, most of whom were born here, but while functional in speaking English, it was not their first language, and who often got by faking that they understood more than they actually did.
For the teacher, it was a well-earned “down day” to end the week.,
I bring this up because lately I’ve been hearing how today’s computer-connected, microwave children are disconnected to food production, and really have no idea where fruits and vegetables were before they were frozen or canned. Several urban schools are conducting pilot programs where the children tend a vegetable patch in a rooftop garden or some reclaimed corner of a concrete playground to gain firsthand knowledge.
I’ve also been seeing proof of this need at the checkout of my local supermarket. I can’t count how many times high school and college-aged clerks, when faced with entering the code of a bunch of fresh spinach, turn to me blank-faced and ask “What is this?”
But yesterday proof stared me in the face as I entered the store. Right there, just inside the door, in the section that touts local produce, AND MAINTAINED BY PRODUCE CLERKS, I came across this.
That’s right, in case you couldn’t read the sign, here it is again
OMG, how can you work in produce, and not know the difference between a radish and a beet!!!!!
I would have laughed if it weren’t so sad.
Now, if you’ll excuse me , I have to go and take an anti-fussiness pill.