My favorite kind of food is the kind that someone makes for me. Don’t get me wrong; I like to cook. I’m just not very good at it, so it’s nice to not have to worry about whether it will turn out or not. I do, however, like to think about where my food comes from. Since having read the young people’s edition of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I pay a lot more attention to what I buy, where it comes from, and how it was grown. I’m just getting started on the subject, and there are several great, new books aimed at primary and intermediate readers that introduce food and farming with a view to the current interest in local, sustainable agriculture so your students can start thinking about these important issues as well.
How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? : The Story of Food starts with a meal and picks it apart. We see where the wheat that became our bread was grown, and follow it as it was processed and shipped. Same with the cheese in the sandwich and the chocolate chips in the cookie. The spreads are full of busy detail, but are not overwhelming. This is a great choice to start off a look at where food comes from that brings in nutrition, agriculture, and economics.
Cris Peterson knows farms. She and her family run a Wisconsin dairy farm, which has been in her family for over one hundred years (See the book Century Farm for this story), she has been National Dairy Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo, and she has written several award-winning books about food, farms, and animals for young audiences. Seed, Soil, Sun is her latest look at agriculture for kids. The bright photographs and the simple text are a great combination that make this book a must-have for elementary school libraries looking to update the 630′s.
Farming may not be a high interest subject for most kids, but pizza, on the other hand, will grab attention. Who Wants Pizza? : The Kids’ Guide to the History, Science and Culture of Food covers it all: botany, biology, nutrition, environment, etc. The best part is that all the gross-out photographs will likely lead kids to all the great information in this book without realizing that they’re learning! Possibly not for squeamish readers… at least not just before lunch.
How Did That Get in my Lunchbox? : The Story of Food. Chris Butterworth. Candlewick. 2011.
Seed, Soil, Sun : Earth’s Recipe for Food. Cris Peterson. Boyds Mills Press. 2010
Who Wants Pizza? : The Kids’ Guide to the History, Science, and Culture of Food. Jan Thornhill. Maple Tree Press. 2010.