What is The Whole Plate?

The Whole Plate is a complete, integrated Real Food Curriculum. It is ready to use right out of the box. All you need is a Teaching Kitchen and access to good ingredients. If you have questions after looking through the website, please call us at the Youth Initiative High School.

What is included?

There are 4 Units and 2 Mini Units. Each Unit contains: An Overview with Lesson Plans,  Lecture Notes with Discussion Suggestions, Homework Assignments, Background Info, Work Sheets, Readings, Study Questions and Study Question Answers, Recipes and Resources for further Study.

What grade level is it designed for?

The Whole Plate was designed with high-schoolers in mind, ages 14-19. That said, the material has been used successfully with adults in classes taught through Organic Valley and the WIC program. Junior high students, ages 12-14, would benefit from the curriculum with modifications to the readings (shorter and with more teacher explanation). In addition, the curriculum could serve as a background resource for elementary schoolteachers.

What topics are included?

The core of the program is teaching students HOW to cook, HOW our food is produced, WHAT to cook, and WHY to spend their food dollars on real, local food. When students finish this course, they understand the what’s and why’s of whole food, organic food and local food.

The Whole Plate includes:
  • Recipes: from comfort food to ethnic food
  • Detailed nutrition and health overview
  • Herbs and spices
  • Indigenous diets
  • Whole, unprocessed food compared to processed food
  • Comparing different food systems (organic, conventional, biodynamic, etc.)
  • The value of buying “local”

How does The Whole Plate integrate with different subject areas?

Each Unit has a particular focus and includes items from many different disciplines, such as chemistry, geology and ecology, and the health, social and economic impact of different agriculture and food systems. It could work well in a “team teaching” situation. We believe that students are more engaged when they are shown the connections between what they are learning and the real world.

Unit 1 »» Nutrition and Health, Chemistry, Physiology
Unit 2 »» Nutrition and Health, Social Studies, Rural Sociology
Unit 3 »» Nutrition and Health, Ecology, Bio-chemistry, Water System
Unit 4 »» Nutrition and Health, History, Anthropology

How do you use the curriculum?

The Whole Plate is designed for a teacher to use, but is also applicable to homeschooling and other educational situations. Teachers should familiarize themselves with the materials–lectures, readings, questions, recipes, and projects–before working with students.

All the Units have four interweaving parts:
Cooking: Hands-on preparation of recipes during class time.
Readings and Discussions: Study questions from the readings provide a guide for discussion of selected chapters that are relevant to understanding food, food systems and the particular focus of the Unit.
Lectures: Teacher leads class lectures on nutrition topics. Lecture sections include exercises and homework assignments.
Projects: Students go on field trips and prepare a family meal.

Here’s an example of how these elements weave together: While food is cooking, students sit down to a lecture or discussion on the previous night’s reading homework, and after the food is done, the teacher checks on the progress of a project. To help structure lessons, each Unit comes with a full lesson plan.

Where can I find the money to buy The Whole Plate?

1.  Check with your local hospital. Hospitals are beginning to recognize that good health outcomes depend on a good, real food diet.
2.  Check with your local food co-op.
3.  Check with your local Farmer’s Market Association.

Where can I buy or find the food to use in class?

1.  Ask for donations from your families that garden.
2.  Many communities have “Community Gardens” – check with them for donations
3.  Check with your local Farmer’s Market Association and your local farmers.  Many local farmers have excess produce that they will donate.
4.  Check with your local hospital. Hospitals are beginning to recognize that good health outcomes depend on a good, real food diet.
5.  Check with your local food co-op.

Who profits from the sale of the curriculum?

After permissions, productions and royalties expenses, the profits go to support the Youth Initiative High School, an independent Waldorf high school and 501c3 nonprofit.

Who created The Whole Plate?

Jane Marie Siemon,  created the material for the curriculum starting in 1997 while teaching at the Youth Initiative High School. Jane and her husband were founding farmers of Organic Valley, the largest organic farmer cooperative in the U.S.  As an organic farmer and high school teacher, Jane continues to study current nutritional advances.  She balances teaching with farming thus truly bringing the farm to the table.  A team of collaborators have helped turn Jane’s lecture notes, recipes and handouts into a dynamic curriculum resource.

One thought on “FAQ

  1. We teach the science and math of a meal to elementary through high school aged kids in after school. Our program is SMART+ (Science & Math Attracting Ready Talent, and the plus…stands for People Linked & United in Service to Support (Student) Success. Our program is not just for kids but it began as part of providing a free meal for hungry kids in urban Dayton, Ohio. We would love to integrate this new curriculum. What do we need to do?

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