Some of these foods might not sound very appetizing
to your students. Some might even sound disgusting! Have students discuss
which foods they are accustomed to that rain forest children might find
hard to put to their tongues. Remind students that all foods, whether grubs,
armadillos or cheeseburgers, can be broken down into the same basic ingredients:
proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water and roughage. For
each food listed above, have students determine which of these are its primary
constituents. Which food group can each food listed be put in? For middle
school students, discuss the chemical make-up of food (carbon, hydrogen,
oxygen, nitrogen...) and
go through the list again, determining which chemicals each of the foods
listed are made of. Again, emphasize that agouti, caiman, turkey and bacon,
for example, are all made up of the same basic chemicals.
In most countries, food is generally grown on farms with large cleared areas
for planting vegetables and grazing livestock. But in the rain forest,
creating farms like this would destroy the local culture. Plus, once
cleared, rain forest soil is not fertile enough to sustain such farms over
a long period of time. Research foods from around the world and write reports
that answer the following question: How do environment and culture work
together to determine the food people eat?
Lesson Idea: Have students imagine they are going to start a rain forest
foods restaurant. Have them make a menu, determining prices according
to how accessible (easy to catch/get, transport, etc.) they feel each food
would be (hint: many foods that originated in rain forests are readily available
in American supermarkets, while others can only be found in the rain forest
itself; and, of those in the rain forest, some are much harder to get than
others and some are seasonal). Next, have students imagine that they
are going out for a meal at this restaurant. Have them order, then
figure out how much the meal will cost them, including a 15% tip.
If 20% of the price before tax goes toward saving the rain forest
and endangered species, how much money is this? If the restaurant
takes in $800 a day (not including tax), how much will go toward saving
the rain forest? Would this offset the loss of the species "harvested"
to serve at your restaurant? What policies could your restaurant make
to ensure that its existence does not threaten the existence of the rain
forest and its animals and plants?
History Research Project: Divide students into groups of three; have each
group choose a favorite food. Use the Internet, encyclopedia software
and written resources to research the origin of the chosen foods and how
they traveled from their places of origin to our plates. Write reports,
illustrate and display, make a map indicating origins and travel routes
of foods, and bring in or cook the foods for all to enjoy. As a follow
up, have students research how foods get from the farm to the plate.
Have them estimate how many people are involved in the process of producing,
transporting, marketing and selling that food before it is even eaten.
Discuss the following statements: 1. Every time we stop to eat, there is
evidence right on our plates that cultures interact and share with each
other and that all of us benefit from that interaction. 2. When we
eat a meal, there are many, many people responsible for getting that meal
to our plates. 3. People who lived many years ago from all around
the world discovered and refined the foods we eat today and worked out ways
to prepare it. 4. Food connects us to the past then, sustains us in the
present and ensures that we will reach the future. 5. The chemical constituents
of food become the chemical constituents of us. 6. The same kind of subatomic
particles that make up food can be found in plants, animals, rocks, the
moon, comets, the sun, and all throughout the universe - and in us.
If we stop to think about it, the earth provides us with an
amazing array of nourishing and tasty foods, without which, of course, we
could not survive on this earth. And, for the most part, we have our
ancestors and the people who came before us from all different cultures
to thank for knowing which foods are edible and how to prepare them.
Ask students to list ways we show thanks for our food, thanks for the bounty
of the earth - and ways that we honor our ancestors.
Activity Idea: Have students imagine they have just moved to the United
States with their spouses and young children. In their old country,
they had many customs which expressed thanks for the bounty of the earth
and honored the ancestors. But, in their new country, they see that
their children are missing out on this tradition of respect and thanks because
the old customs don't fit in their new environment. They are worried
that their children will grow up taking things for granted, not appreciating
their cultural history and the richness of the earth. So, they decide
to establish three new practices they can do with their children every day
that will show thanks for all that the earth provides and will recognize
the hard work and love of their ancestors. Have students list and
share these ideas. Make a class list and display it in the hall.
Adopt a few of the suggestions and make them every day practices throughout
the course of the school year.