Unit 1: What is Food?


Harvest Pumkins at Youth Initiative High School

Harvest Pumpkins at Youth Initiative High School

This first Unit gives students a solid grounding in cooking and nutritional basics. The recipes, readings and lectures presented in Unit 1 provide the foundation for future Units, while also equipping students with a set of concepts and skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Seeing food for its constituent nutrients as well as a part a whole system of production is a central theme in The Whole Plate, and students first encounter it Unit 1. “What is Food” not only meets requirements for nutrition and health education, it changes eating and cooking habits for a lifetime.

View a sample.

THE LECTURES cover the basic components of food:  proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The lecture notes assume some familiarity with chemistry and anatomy on the part of the teacher. The students learn how the body uses these components, what forms they come in (including their chemical structure), and which foods provide these components. Discussions and Activities are placed throughout the lectures to aid the teacher in making lectures more engaging.

THE READINGS are from Please, Doctor, Do Something!, a classic in natural nutrition, written by Dr. Joe Nichols. The chapters included here explain the fundamentals of a whole, organic foods diet and the problems associated with processed, conventionally produced foods. Dr. Joe gives personal testament and reasoned arguments for a switch in diet for individuals and society as a whole.

STUDY QUESTIONS guide students through the text, and can be used to facilitate class discussions.

THE RECIPES for Unit 1 introduce students to basic ingredients and culinary skills. Starting with quick breads and salads and moving to birthday cakes and pizza, students learn more complicated recipes, while making foods that are generally appealing. We strongly recommend sourcing foods from organic and local farms or from food co-ops that do. Be sure to read through the “Teaching Kitchen Guide” and the recipes before starting the class!

Muffins – Basic Milk or Cream Muffins and Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Canning Tomatoes
Jellies and Jams – Grape Jelly
Buttermilk Biscuits
Fresh Tomato Sauce for Spaghetti
Garlic Bread
Puddings – Vanilla and Chocolate
Salads – Coleslaw and Apple Carrot Salad
Apple pie – Easy to work pie crust
Italian Bread Sticks
Refried beans
Nachos with fresh salsa
Soups: Cream of Broccoli and Cream of Potato
Roast Beef with Vegetables and Gravy
Pear, Apple or Peach Crisp

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS to accompany this course are a field trip to a farm—this class works best during harvest time—and, a perennial favorite (especially for parents!), preparation of FAMILY MEAL, an assignment in which students make dinner for their family and document the experience.