Remember back in January, when Lulu and I watched all those old commercials, and I told you about her food project? She wanted to learn about food in the U.S. in the last century. Well, she worked at the project for two months, and finally finished it last week for our homeschool group’s history fair. (I wrote about the fair here last year.)
She decided to research each decade since 1910 to learn how food had changed in that decade. The book The Century In Food by Beverly Bundy was a big help, as was the internet.
For each decade she wrote an overview; then she came up with a menu, a few typical school lunches, a recipe and an interesting tidbit from the decade.
A big part of the fun was deciding how to display her information. There are always lots of tri-fold display boards at these fairs, and Lulu wanted to come up with something more engaging. She decided to put each decade’s information on some sort of food container that seemed emblematic of the decade.
And don’t you love the 80s presented on a Big Gulp container, and the 90s on a package of Lunchables? (Or maybe I should say: doesn’t it make you cringe?)
She also made samples for visitors to try: a butterless, eggless, milkless cake from the wartime 1940s (surprisingly good!) and a pineapple upside-down cake from the 1950s. And she ran a loop of those wacky old commercials.
It surprised me how hard Lulu worked at this project. She had a vision for it and wouldn’t stop until it was finished. I think the history fair might have been a little disappointing for her–after all the work she did, it seemed that most visitors weren’t able to spend time to really explore her display. Then again, the main reward seemed to be the accomplishment she felt. If you go back to my last post and reconsider those Dan Pink abilities for the future, I’d say Lulu spent a few months romping in design (how she displayed the information), story (deciding how to tell each decade’s story in a compelling way), symphony (pulling together information from many places and creating something unique) and meaning (this topic mattered to Lulu, which was evident in the amount of time she put into it. Something about it really drove her.)
My favorite part of her display was her write-up of the decade of 2000-2010. Most of the resources she’d used didn’t include this decade, but that didn’t really matter–this was the one decade Lulu remembered herself. We talked about the decade a bit before she wrote, but most of her information came from discussions we’ve had over the last ten years. Lulu gets what’s happening with food in our country these days, and I’m proud of that. I’m not sure that goal would show up on a list of education standards, but it’s pretty important to us.
Here’s what she wrote.
“In the 2000s, the organic and Slow Food movements started to become popular. These movements brought America back towards where it had started at the beginning of the 1900s, buying fresh vegetables at local markets, cooking meals from scratch and using seasonal ingredients. Over the last century Americans had strayed farther and farther from this sort of cooking, until home-cooking meant heating something up or adding water. With the Slow Food movement, Americans began to cook natural, real health food, not the low-fat, calorie-free food that had been thought of as “healthy” in the past. Farmer’s markets, farm boxes of fruits and veggies and health food stores like Whole Foods are spreading across the country, bringing with them the idea that not only is Slow Food healthy, but it’s also delicious and enjoyable to make. Foods like organic eggs and milk, free-range chickens, grass-fed beef and local vegetables are beginning to appear on ordinary supermarket shelves and become staples in American diets. Restaurants are also following the movement, creating organic and seasonal menus that appeal to the next generation as well as the last one. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has chosen as her cause, while in the White House, to improve the eating habits of American children and bring healthy foods back to schools.
Even with these movements, America is still very much a country built on convenience foods, but that is beginning to change. And maybe one day in the near future, America will have come full circle, back to the wholesome, homemade foods of the 1910s.”
Hopeful, don’t you think?
I think she learned a lot.