What do we eat – how should we eat

In an online survey at their individual schools, students participating in the project answered questions on their eating habits. During the meeting in Germany, students then looked at the results of the survey and deducted recommendations for the future on how to eat better in the future.

The questions included aim at three different topics:

  • “Traditional” eating schedules and eating habits in different countries. The reasoning behind this set of questions is that there are different habits. In some countries, breakfast or lunch are the main meal of the day, in others it’s dinner. The answers to these questions, especially when comparing the answers from different countries, help students to become aware of different cultures. Food and the daily rituals connected to its preparation & consumption touch every single person at a very “deep” level of their individuality. When for example looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ), food is listed among the basis of physiological needs. When students travelling to another country, living in another family are confronted with different times for main meals, these differences can (if not explained beforehand) create stressful situations, hampering a “perfect” outcome of the mobility.
  • Eating habits of students. What do they eat, consider healthy and what do they know about healthy food.
  • What and where do they (or: their parents) buy food. This aims at the environmental aspect of food shopping. Not mentioned is organic food (which might be too obvious). Instead, there’s one question as to where they buy their veggies (for example, if food is bought at a farmers’ market this more likely is regional food which would mean a lower carbon footprint). Another question asked about fruits and vegetables they/their family bought in the two months before taking the survey (i.e. in late winter / early spring). The examples listed can (during the European winter) only be imported from the southern hemisphere (e.g. South Africa, Costa Rica, Brazil, …). So if someone had bought for example grapes this would not be environmentally friendly.

Food of the Future

At the Futurium in Berlin, students worked in groups on several topics. In the exhibit, they collected information and pictures on their topic. These findings were than used to incorporate into further work and to create posters on several topics.

Presented here are the tasks and some of the results.

Where will our food come from in the future?

Agriculture: Growing food (vegetables, grain, fruits, …) on traditional fields is so 19th century.

  • Where will we plant, grow and harvest our food in the future?
  • Can we also modernize fish production in a similar way?

Farming / food production on a farm /
a more natural and social way to produce food

Traditionally, farmers produce their food, bring it to the market (either a small farmers market or a big distribution center) and hope they can sell their produce. They also hope to get enough money / to not go bankrupt. If they can’t sell their food, they have to throw it out. Big farms today rarely come into contact with us, the consumers. We as customers usually don’t have any contact with the farms and farmers. We have become distanced from our food.

How could a farm also be organized (today or in the future). In the future, there might be a more communal concept of agriculture: What is it called, what’s the concept behind it, how is it organised, how do people get involved, …?

Food from the laboratory /
Improving and enhancing our food with the help of science

  • Can science, scientific development, research help with the food we eat?
  • From the laboratory onto the field? Is that possible? If yes: How? Are there examples?
  • Genome editing

Environment and sustainability

  • Current environmental problems connected to food / farming / …
  • Possible ways to make producing food, shopping for food and eating food better for the environment.
  • What can we as individuals do? Can science help?

Current problems in food production

  • Monopolies, transport and energy consumption
  • “Hidden” costs / ecological costs
  • Are there suggestions to solve these problems?

Meat production

Humanity does not only eat vegetables, fruit & grain. We are omnivores.

  • Is there a better way to produce meat?
  • Where could the meat of the future come from?
  • A lot of research is still needed in the area: Which open questions are there?

Artificial, chemical, and virtual food

  • What’s that?
  • Can you eat it?
  • How is it produced, consumed, …?

Food Waste & Food Art

In the back of food pantries, fridges and kitchen cabinets of (too) many households, one can find food that has gone past its expiration date. Usually, that’s no problem as it is possible to eat food beyond the “Best before” date – after all, most food is still edible a few days (sometimes even weeks) after this date.

But in the same cupboards, there can be almost “historic” finds of food that has been waiting to be used for years and years… Most likely not edible anymore. A lot of food gets wasted without ever being eaten.

In this exercise, students had the choice of either creating food art with “donations” of food that was no longer good for consumption – or to work theoretically on the topic of food waste.

Why is food waste a problem?
Food art
Food art

A healthy BBQ party

Day 1 of the meeting in Germany, afternoon and evening.

With the help of a dietician and in cooperation with a regional adult education center, students created a buffet style dinner. Later on, host parents and siblings were invited to school to start off the mobility together.

The recipes were chosen and provided by the dietician. A main focus lay on a variety of healthy salads. These accompanied some healthy dishes prepared on the BBQ (consisting of vegetables and lean meat). As we had learned from the food pyramid in the morning, sweet treats are not “forbidden” but should be chosen wisely and sparingly. Consequently, desserts were also included and consisted mostly of fruits, dairy (and some not so healthy ingredients…).

While cutting, grating, mixing, seasoning, …, students got to know each other (always working in teams with mixed nationalities). The results were very delicious and the few remaining left-overs were taken home to be finished and enjoyed later. The local newspaper came by as well and reported on this event (and the project in general).

Thumbs up
Working together
Just some of many different dishes

Food pyramid

What’s on the top of the food pyramid should not be on the top of the list of foods you eat every day…

Our food journey started out by looking at the food we might eat – and by getting to know each other.

For this purpose, students were handed magnetic cut-outs of typical food items (e.g. different types of vegetables, fruits, drinks, meats, legumes, snacks). Each food item was given to two different students.

In a first step, students were to find the partner with the same food item. As a team they then went on to complete the draft of a food pyramid, discovering the concept and the “position” of each food.

In another step, students did a short activity on language exchange: What is “their” food called in their language, in their partner’s language, in English?

Often, we were able to discover quite similar names for food in our languages. In some cases, “false friends” can, however, lead to misunderstandings. These we need to be aware of. For example: Does the word “pasta” mean the same in every language? In Spanish, it can mean a lot more than just Italian noodles (for example also building material, money or a small cakes), in Turkish as well it designates a cake, in French the word “pasta” does not really exist at all.

A healthy cookbook

In preparation for our meeting, students from all participating countries collected some of their families’ favorite recipes. The task was to identify healthy recipes, and recipes that are good for the environment for a number of reasons. The recipes were then collected in a cookbook. We had this cookbook printed professionally and distributed it to all participants at the beginning of the mobility. It will also be placed in school libraries etc.

Visiting students had been asked before the mobility to plan on cooking “their” recipe together with their host families. In this way, also parents and siblings were involved in the topic and work on the project. Moreover, sometimes hosting students and their families are at a loss when it comes to the question of “What can we do together with our guest?”. Cooking something together, creating a meal and enjoying a new inspiration from another country, another family can create a sense of community to forge lasting bonds (also beyond the rather short duration of a mobility).

Brezeln – Pretzels

Bretzel – Pretzels

Course: Sides
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cube of fresh yeast

  • 75ml milk

  • 250g flour

  • ¼ spoon of salt

  • ¼ spoon  of sugar

  • 25g butter

  • ½ l water

  • 1,5 spoons  of baking soda

Directions

  • First you put two tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon of sugar and three tablespoons of milk in a bowl. The resulting yeast dough must now rise for 20 minutes. Now mix the remaining ingredients with the yeast dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees top bottom heat. Shape the dough into pretzels.
  • Dissolve the baking soda in the water. Dip the pretzels in the lye water for 30 seconds. And finally, bake the pretzels for 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Bauernbrot – Farmers bread

Bauernbrot – Farmers bread

Recipe by DECourse: Sides
Servings

10

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

3

hours 

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • 300 g wheat flour type 405

  • 280 g wheat flour type 1050

  • 2 teaspoons of salt

  • 1 package dry yeast

  • 380 ml lukewarm water

Directions

  • Mix the flour with sugar and salt in a bowl.
  • Add dry yeast and 380 ml of lukewarm water and knead everything with the dough hook of the hand mixer for 5 minutes to a smooth dough.
  • Cover and let rise for circa 60 minutes.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface to form a round loaf.
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover and let rest for circa 60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (convection: 200 degrees).
  • Brush the bread with water.
  • Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Then reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees (convection: 180 degrees) and bake the bread for 40 minutes.
  • Let it cool down completely.
  • Enjoy

Erbsensuppe – Pea soup

Erbsensuppe – Pea soup

Recipe by DECourse: Soups
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • 300 g green split peas

  • 1 onion

  • 1 bunch of soup vegetables

  • 100 g ham cubes

  • 2 tablespoons oil

  • 1 l vegetable broth

  • 300 g potatoes

  • 4  Vienna sausages

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 1 pinch of pepper

  • 0.5 bunch of flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  • Bring the peas to the boil in 1.3 l water, simmer openly for circa 45 minutes.
  • Then pour the peas into a sieve, collect circa 500 ml of the cooking water.
  • Peel the onion and dice finely.
  • Clean the soup vegetables and dice finely.
  • Sautée the onion and ham cubes in oil, add the soup vegetables and stew for circa 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the cooking water, vegetable broth and add the peas, cook everything for circa 20 minutes with the lid on.
  • In the meantime, peel the potatoes, cut into circa 1 cm cubes, add to the soup, simmer for another 20 minutes.
  • Wash parsley, shake dry, chop finely.
  • Season the pea soup with salt and pepper to taste, add the sausages and heat up briefly.
  • Then distribute the soup on deep plates and serve sprinkled with parsley.
  • Enjoy!

Lentil salad

Lentil salad

Recipe by FRCourse: Salads
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

Ingredients

  • 1 onion

  • 2 tomatoes

  • 1 cucumber

  • 300g of lentil

  • herbs of Provence

  • 1 feta cheese

  • salt

  • pepper

  • 1 lemon

  • balsamic vinegar

  • oil

Directions

  • Cook the lentils as directed on the package (usually 30 min in cold water from the boiling water). Let them cool, to go faster, you can past them under cold water.
  • Prepare the vinaigrette: To do this, mix the oil and balsamic vinegar. Cut the lemon in half to extract the lemon juice that will be used to complete the dressing.
  • Cut the onion into strips.
  • Oil your pan and insert your onion strips to fry. Let them brown slightly.
  • Cut the tomatoes and the cucumber into a rather thin wedge (nicer on the palate) as well as the feta cheese.
  • Add the lentils; once cold; and the cucumber, feta and tomatoes in your dressing.
  • To finish, season the salad with salt, pepper and herbs of Provence.