Unit 4: The Spice of Life

The final Unit of The Whole Plate prepares students to make healthy food choices and to be independent cooks and consumers. While the recipes stress easy to make, cheap meals (for the college dorm!), the lectures and readings introduce students to new vistas of nutrition: indigenous diets, alternative food pyramids, medicinal and flavorful spices. Students will be challenged to analyze their own diet and to consider radically different approaches.  “The Spice of Life” aims to inspire interest and awe in what we eat.

THE LECTURES equip students with vital knowledge for making independent food choices. Safety guidelines for food preparation figure prominently in the lectures, raising awareness of food poisoning and sanitary kitchen habits. Branching out from safety, students encounter the nutritional recommendations of the Weston A. Price, who studied non-Western traditional diets and came to many intriguing conclusions about our Western diet. Next, students span the world of herbs and spices, with special attention given to their medicinal properties. Discussions and Activities are placed throughout the lectures to aid the teacher in making lectures more engaging.

View a sample from the herbs and spices lectures.

THE READINGS come from two sources, published 67 years apart, both challenging the Western diet: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and What to Eat by Luise Light. The selections for Price’s classic work show a glimpse of peoples who still ate unprocessed traditional foods. Comparing them with similar groups who had adopted a Western diet of refined sugar and flour, Price points to signs of physical degeneration in the latter group. His dietary recommendations strike at the heart of the modern, mass-produced food system. Similarly, What to Eat challenges the nutritional logic of the Food Pyramid, introducing a revised healthier version. Students also read a chapter on keeping a dietary journal and exploring the connection between what they eat and their emotional and mental wellbeing.

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

THE RECIPES prepared in Unit 4 are a little more advanced or are oriented toward independent “college” cooking. 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!

Popovers and Chai Tea
Soup – White Chicken Chile
Egg rolls with vegetables
Seaweed salad with Napa Cabbage
Trout baked in parchment paper
Pan fried fish
Lemon Buerre Blanc
Sweet Rolls with Caramel Pecan Topping
Quick Meals for College
Crock Pot recipes
Velvet Spice Cake
Vegetable Cookery
Lemon Meringue Pie
Handmade Tortillas—Chicken Cheese Enchiladas
Cook off contest!

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS to accompany this course are a DVD of Dr. Price’s findings among indigenous peoples 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.