Output Title: Science and Food Literacy in the Kitchen

Output Type: Learning / teaching / training material – Manual / handbook / guidance material

Start Date: 2020-01-01

End Date: 2023-05-31

Activity Leading Organisation: The University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG)

Description: Food literacy is a multidimensional concept, which can be formulated as the process that qualifies competencies in relation to food, choice of food, knowledge of food and ability to make food, in order to approach food in a critical, reflective and intentional way (Institut for Fødevare- og Ressourceøkonomi 2013). Several studies concerning food literacy and children conclude that food literacy contributes to lifelong wellbeing, a sustainable health care system and support the agri-food sector (Lamers-Helps 2018).

Learning and informing children about the theories of food and health does not provide the children with skills to prevent health-related diseases (Carlsen 2011). Children need to develop competencies and motivation to be able to navigate in a globalised world, having a lot of offers to choose from (Carlsen 2011). Therefore the children need to smell, taste, see, hear and last but not least, touch the food. It is known, through several research projects concerning children and health, that using the senses, can create an increase in motivation empowering the children to learn more about a given subject. Within the concept of food literacy, science can play a pivotal role, especially as a tool to make children understand what is happening in food during cooking, the gastronomic transformation.

The Science and Food Literacy in the Kitchen IO will develop elements of innovation by focusing on the historical aspect of why humans learned to cook and transform their foods through the themes of healthiness, durability and palatability. The themes will be investigated and formulated through new innovative learning activities, for children to know the ‘why’ of food transformation.
Food is an object under our eyes since the beginning of our life; often children learn to recognise the letters of the alphabet, but knowledge in the foods we eat is of great interest for children as well, in order to learn the inside of foods and how to use, touch and eat it. It is possible to introduce the main groups of molecules making food i.e. proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, to explain that molecules have different structure and therefore different roles and functions. Exactly like we use tools with different shapes to perform different actions: to devour a soup, we need a spoon or a bowl; to eat spaghetti we use the fork or chopsticks etc. Some molecules have many different shapes and thereby different functions in food and other living systems, from enzymes (biological catalyst) to structure (bonds, muscles).

The Science and Food Literacy in the Kitchen IO will provide pupils and teachers with activities that describe and formulate transformations in food and how changing food with e.g. heat, will change the molecules in the food. Further, the transformation of molecules and the reaction between them in foods, also change the texture, the consistency, the colour, the smell and the taste of food. Changes like these will be included in the IO activities by aiming to answer questions like: How do we go from oil to emulsion (mayo)? Why is an elastic dough important for a bread? How come foam is possible with milk or egg white, but not with oil? What gives the characteristic smell to a cake or to a bread in the oven? How do we perceive the smell of the cake, when the colour changes? What is happening during the preparation of a soffritto? What is the difference between cooked minced meat and a ragù? What does fermented food mean and why does it taste good?

The ambition of this IO is to develop hands-on activities focusing on the why of foods, enhancing pupils’ attitude towards food and health and impact them to a behaviour change. The new elements of innovation regarding the ‘why’ of foods will impact the pupils towards healthier action competencies to change their behaviours in regards to consumerism, take responsibility of their own actions, increasing their self-efficacy, and their autonomy.
Schools as research areas represent the most effective and efficient way to reach a large section of an important target population, which includes pupils as well as school staff and the wider community. The primary target group in this Intellectual Output is pupils, age 7-14, both inside the Learn4Earth project and outside. Secondly, this Intellectual Output will target the teachers with new learning materials applicable and transferable to other European schools. Thirdly the parents are a target group, as it is the ambition that the pupils will gain enhanced new knowledge and skills that causes a behaviour change both in schools and at home, now and in the future, which the parents will be impacted by and benefit from ensuring more sustainable consumerism in regards to Health.