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Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

February 22, 2010

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If you are only given the options of fast food or grocery stores full of packaged and processed foods, you may not know much about healthy foods that are locally and organically grown.  You may have only seen hamburgers wrapped in paper, or chicken nuggets in a box.  The idea of grass fed beef or free range chicken might be foreign to you.

Students at Automotive High School in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are being introduced to food in a different way.  They are taking a class called “Food, Land, and You.” Their teacher Jenny Kessler, introduced this class three years ago, as an elective English course.  The class is a primer about food broadly defined — its social, political and economic aspects.

Students discuss factory farming and corn subsidies, they read articles by Michael Pollan and watch documentaries like Food, Inc.  They also tend a 2,500-square-foot organic vegetable garden, and take trips to the local butcher shop and Queens County Farm Museum, where they collect eggs and work with compost.

The New York Times reports that most of Ms. Kessler’s students live in “food deserts”—neighborhoods with lots of fast food but little fresh produce or other healthy fare.  “The purpose of going there is just for them to know it’s out there,” Ms. Kessler said. “It’s really hard to cement in their heads that there are other options to industrial food.”

Does your local high school offer a class like “Food, Land, and You?”  Perhaps is should be a required course rather than an elective?