The Classroom Package: Curriculum Connection

Food for Thought
In addition to the foods mentioned in Part 2 of the poem (turtle eggs, armadillo, bocachico, grubs), rain forest people might also eat/drink: cassava, bananas, oranges, lemons, monkey, tapir, deer, rabbit, papaya, potatoes, sugar, bread, coca-cola, beer, chicha (fermented cassava drink), chicken, eggs, agouti, capybara, caiman, chonta-fruit, naranjillas (fruit), tinamou (pheasant-like bird), tomatoes, peppers, piranha and plantains. Which of these are your students familiar with? Which have they eaten? Research those that students do not recognize.

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.

Discussion Topics: 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.



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Amazon Rain Forest  
The Galapagos Islands

Latin America Classrom Travel Resources

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