The Theory of Food
Corina Rahmig
By Corina Rahmig
High School Science Teacher  
November 9, 2018
Food is so much more than what we eat three times a day when we get hungry. Think about the joy a child feels when you give her a frosted cupcake, or the affection you may feel when you share a special holiday meal with your family. Food has influenced human evolution and has been a major factor in the development of social structures and commerce for generations. The way we grow and produce food is having an increasing impact on the environment, and our food choices greatly affect our health and well-being.
The Theory of Food course at Forest Ridge is exploring many of these food attributes. This new, interdisciplinary course combines social studies, science, and cooking. The students have most classes in the residence hall kitchen and dining area where they cook and learn about the history, health, and environmental impacts of specific foods.
A typical class starts at 8:15 a.m. with the students pulling back their hair, washing their hands, and putting on their aprons. Chef Ron and one of the Fridge staff members -- many of whom are graduates of the nutrition and culinary arts program at Bastyr University -- introduce the dishes that the students will be making, give some background about the ingredients they’ll be working with, and demonstrate new cooking techniques. The students jump in and start cooking in groups, mastering the art of caramelizing onions, flipping omelets, and pan-frying salmon, to name a few. By 9 a.m. the students are adjusting their spices and seasonings to please their individual pallets, and by 9:30 a.m., we are all eating the fruits of their labor.
The learning doesn’t end there. After a break, the students return for a second block and dive deeply into the scientific, social, and political aspects of food, cooking, and the food system. The Theory of Food class has explored topics such as the domestication of staple foods around the world, the influence of food and cooking on the evolution of the human brain, the power of advertising to influence our food choices, and the causes and prevalence of lactose intolerance.
As I watch the students cook, share their creations with one another, and research the nutrients in their favorite dishes, I take note of the practical skills they’re learning. These students will go off to college knowing how to safely chop an onion, bake a basic loaf of bread, and make a perfect omelet. Just as importantly, they will have the skills to discern valid nutritional claims from the plethora of misinformation that we’re bombarded with through popular media and advertising. And finally, they will have the knowledge to make healthy choices about the foods they consume for the rest of their lives.
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