Joy of Learning

Food History

Focus: Bio-diversity
Subject: Science
Place: Indoors and outdoors
Duration: One day for collection and compilation of information
Group size: Individual
Material: Writing material, food history table

To become aware of the diversity of food we eat everyday and the concept of loss of bio-diversity.

Ask each student to interview grandparents and parents and/or neighbours, relatives or others belonging to those two generations.
Students should find out

1) Vegetables, fruits, pulses, cereals, meats and fish that the persons, used to eat when young; dishes cooked for breakfast and other meals on a typical day; beverages (tea, coffee, milk, lassi, buttermilk, etc.) they consumed.

2) Vegetables, fruits, pulses, cereals, meats and fish those were available then, but not any more.

3) Vegetables, fruits, pulses, cereals, meats and fish those were not available then, but now are.

4) Special foods associated with different seasons.

Students can use the 'Food History' to record the information.
Ask students to begin by listing, in the appropriate column, items mentioned by grandparents. Against each item they could put either a tick (P) mark or a cross (x) in the other two columns depending on whether parents and they themselves also eat those items of food. Add any items mentioned by parents but not by grandparents in the 'parents' column and mark, as appropriate, in the other two columns.
Finally the students should add items to their own column which are available now but were not mentioned by either or both of the other groups.
Students should ask both groups why some of the varieties of foods are not eaten or available any more. They could record the reasons in the “Remarks” column.

The students could find out about the kind of dishes that were customarily made on different occasions like, festivals, rituals, and celebrations like weddings, in all the three generations. Is there any change in the way certain dishes are cooked and prepared today as compared to before? For instance, how is baingan ka bharta made? These days, the brinjals are either roasted on gas stoves or micro-waved, while earlier they were roasted on coals. Have students do a market survey of the five food categories (vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses, and meats) mentioned above. Ask them to check out what is available in the government ration shops. Does the Public Distribution System sell bajra, jowar and other nutritious cereals? Why is this?

List vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses and meats (e.g. fish, fowl) which seem to have either disappeared from the range of foods available now, or have become rare. Discuss why this might have happened. e.g., loss of forests, grasslands, water bodies, that harboured these plants or animals, monocultures, changing lifestyles.
Ask students to name items that they eat but their parents or grandparents did not. What does this indicate? What is the role of modern agriculture and transportation in this? What is the role of technologies such as refrigeration? Discuss the importance of bio-diversity.

Food History

Food Category






1. Tomatoes



Tomatoes were seasonal

during my parents time,

but are now available in

all seasons.





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