DOBSON — A group of 17 youthful diners were asked to consider not only what but how the foods in their lunchboxes got there during a Cooperative Extension Service Summer Explosion program Thursday.
Extension Agent Carmen Long began by asking participants how food got into their lunchbox.
“We put the food in our lunchboxes,” answered the children. Long quickly steered the inquiry to what foods they would put in their lunchboxes.
Many of the replies involved fruits including plums, bananas, apples and raspberries but responses also included sandwiches, pizza and chocolate chip cookies. Early activities had the children coloring fruits and vegetables and assembling a book with the theme of ‘Eat a Rainbow’ to emphasize colorful, healthy options to their diets. She next encouraged children to consider where foods come from.
Agent Joanna Radford shared some stalks of wheat with the participants and explained how grain is planted and harvested to be processed into flour which is used for a variety of foods. Long told them farmers are important to supply food for everyone. She told the class that apples and cherries and oranges all grow on trees and pointed out that even tomatoes and carrots are grown on farms. Long next explained how cows’ milk is turned into cheese.
She shared some trivia on cattle with the class which included cows having six stomachs and 32 teeth. Long said on average modern cows eat 75 pounds of grain every day and drink 50 gallons of water daily. She told them a modern dairy cow produces as much milk in one day as 100 cows produced in the past.
“Chocolate even grows on trees,” said Long. “We don’t have cocoa trees here but chocolate beans are ground up into a paste and sugar and milk are added. This liquid is what they make chocolate chips, like the ones in the cookies we’ll bake today, out of. Some foods, like oranges, grow in warmer places than here. The people who grow oranges have to hire workers to pick the fruit. The wear gloves so they don’t bruise the fruit. Just think of all different people who work to make all the things for just one meal.”
Long asked the group to thank farmers for all the hard work they do and added that recognition should be given to those who pack food and drive it to grocery stores.
“Lots of people work to get us our food,” said Long. “That is not so in many countries so we are very lucky.”
The next activity included Long guiding the children in assembling the components for bread. Later, dough from each plastic bag would be split and miniature loaves would be baked for children to take home. She talked with the children about how yeast is used to make the bread rise for a lighter texture.
According to Long, recipes covered in the class included bread, soft chocolate chip cookies, grilled vegetable Orzo Saload, minted fresh fruit salad, and caramelized apple hand pies where participants manually stuffed the filling into the individual pie crusts.
Parents are reminded that keeping food cold slows bacterial growth and keeps food safe. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the ‘Danger Zone’ which is temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Including a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box with perishable food in an insulated lunch bag or box will help keep food safe.
Hands should be washed with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food. Utensils and counter tops should be washed with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Food packaging and paper bags should be discarded after lunch to avoid cros contamination.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.