Food Economics: Where in the World… and Why?

Food EconomicsThe harvest stage of a school garden provides an ideal setting to observe interdependence of producers and consumers: harvesting food in the garden vs. buying produce in a store or a restaurant.  This is when Social Studies benchmarks can be supported in the garden and students can gain an understanding of how consumer choices affect food sustainability on Maui.

Discussion Points

Limited Resources and Choice: Explain scarcity and effects on daily life. Discuss water scarcity in Hawaii and how it affects farmers / gardeners. What happens when there is less rainfall on the island? How does it affect farmers? What happens if local farmers stop producing a fruit or vegetable? How does it affect the price? What happens when consumers buy imported produce instead of local produce? How does it affect a local farmer’s ability to grow more?

Role of Government: Discuss responsibility of government to provide goods and services – ie. In supplying water to areas where needed.

Economic Interdependence / Role and Function of Markets:  How do people benefit from trade (exchange of goods and services)? Discuss relationships between buyers (consumers) and sellers (producers) and how they depend upon each other. Why do farmers need customers? Why do customers need farmers?

ActivitiesFood Economics

  • Display imported produce: a tomato (from California), banana (from Ecuador), eggplant (from Philippines), cabbage (from Mexico) and ask the students to find where these items are growing in the garden. Have students search for “local” produce bring a sample of each back to circle (or a leaf from the plant if fruit or vegetable is not ready to harvest).
  • Locate origin of each imported produce item on the globe and estimate how many miles / amount of time each one traveled before being sold to the consumer here on Hawaii.
  • Discuss all the human resources involved in delivering that food (farmers, truckers, shippers, store clerks, etc.). Which ones require gas/fuel to do their jobs? Students act out each stage of delivery and exchange.
  • Compare the imported food chain to how many steps / people / how much energy or fuel it took to deliver food from the garden to the table.
  • Ask students if they know someone who grows food on Maui. Discuss the concept of local vs. imported. What is local? Are you local? Why?
  1. If you bought a local banana from a store that sells your uncle’s / auntie’s bananas, who would get the money?
  2. If you bought an imported banana from Ecuador, who would get the money?
  3. If a local farmer gets money for their bananas, can they grow more local bananas? Why?
  4. How can you tell where something comes from when shopping in a store? Show examples of food labels that list the origin of produce.

Final Observations / Questions
Why do stores in your neighborhood import food from other countries? Not enough supply? Not enough demand? Do imported bananas taste better?

  • Taste testing: Sample and compare slices of a banana from Ecuador or other country to an apple banana from Maui. Samples are divided on two plates with no identification on origin.
  1. Which tastes better? Then, reveal which bananas are imported vs. local.
  2. How does supply and demand affect a store owner’s decision to carry local vs. imported bananas?
  3. Which consumer choice supports farmers who live on Maui?
  4. Which banana would you choose? Why?

For more ideas on connecting students their food sources and sustainable practices, check out the free downloads and other resources available via the Center for Ecoliteracy.

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World Class Chefs + 1,000 Students Celebrate School Garden Harvest Fest

kihei elementary school students prepare stir fry ingredients with garden grown veggies For three full days, April 24-26, world-class chefs led garden recipe workshops with more than 950 students in nearly a quarter-acre of garden space in the heart of the Kihei Elementary School campus. Kindergarten through 5th grade students and chefs prepared Asian stir-fry and gourmet veggie pizzas using ingredients grown and harvested from the school’s Pizza Garden and Gardens of the World. Students chopped, peeled and spiced their garden delights before chefs tossed them into a giant wok and wood-fired pizza oven and served it up in a pop-up café to celebrate the school’s annual Harvest Fest.

Private Maui Chef Dan Fiske and Capische? Chef de Cuisine Christopher Kulis assist Kihei Elementary School students in preparing garden-grown ingredients for a stir fry recipeNow in its sixth year, Kihei Elementary School garden, managed by Grow Some Good, has become a model program for integrating sustainability and nutrition into curriculum while inspiring future farmers, chefs, scientists, teachers and entrepreneurs on Maui. “We have observed children who are shy or those who don’t do well in the classroom, blossom just like the plants they are cultivating,” says Halle Maxwell, Kihei Elementary School Principal.

Grow Some Good is a nonprofit community program dedicated to creating hands-on, outdoor learning experiences that cultivate curiosity about natural life cycles, connect students to their food sources, and inspire better nutrition choices. In addition to helping establish food gardens and living science labs in local schools, the organization provides resources and curriculum support through community partnerships in agriculture, science, food education and nutrition. For more information about Grow Some Good, visit GrowSomeGood.org.Private chef Jana McMahon assists Kihei Elementary School students in creating school garden veggie pizzas

MAHALO TO OUR CHEFS!

MAHALO to Elyse Ditzel of Whole Foods Market Kahului for donating extra local produce to the Harvest Fest!

And, as always, MAHALO TO OUR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS who make these special events run smoothly and inspire greater nutrition for our keiki!

– Nio Kindla, Terry Huth, Kathy Becklin, Dania Katz, Eric Ulman, Ray and Laura Van Wagner, Connie Mark, Jordan Lauren Claymore, Wyatt Gouveia, Anthony LaBua, Sierra Knight and Ruby Ayers… you are AWESOME! We couldn’t do this without you!

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Outrigger Pizza Teaches Kids Art and Science of Pizza Dough

The Outrigger Pizza Company is a favorite lunch spot in Kihei, Maui (Azeka Shopping Center Mauka parking lot), so we were thrilled when co-founder and president Eric Mitchell agreed to spend three full days working with Wailea chefs preparing pizzas in his mobile wood burning oven. More than 800 K-5 grade students at Kihei Elementary School co-created pizza recipes including marinara, pesto or herb infused olive oil, topped with fresh garden greens and herbs, red creole onion, carrots, tomato, broccoli and zucchini – all veggies that are grown in the school garden.

Chef Eric brought an artisan kiawe wood burning clay oven on wheels, made all the dough for the entire event, made extra  pizzas for delivery to classes who couldn’t attend and kept the oven stoked for a special after school party for YMCA A+ students.  While the kids watched him flip dough in the air, he explained the science behind yeast and how beneficial bacteria burp when eating flour to make tiny air pockets in the crust. “Ewww!!!” a few screeched, then Eric explained the benefits of good bacteria to keep digestion healthy. Inspired by their discovery, kids artfully spread the sauce in circles, arranged herbs and sprinkled with cheese, then patiently waited – only 90 seconds before pizzas emerged from the kiawe oven piping hot. They talked story and called out their slices and took in the aroma while waiting a few more moments to cool. Students devoured, studied and savored the garden pies while talking about their favorite ingredients…and their next recipe adventure!

Mahalo nui loa to Eric, all the chefs and volunteers for inspiring our keiki to grow, harvest, prepare and eat their own amazing vegetables.

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Kalo Harvest for Makahiki Season

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In celebration of the opening of Makahiki season this month, students from Mr. Little’s fourth grade class harvested the remaining taro (called kalo in Hawaiian). The kalo patch was planted and cultivated by last year’s fourth graders with the help of local kalo farmer Hōkūao Pellegrino. During the harvest, students learned the traditional mo’olelo (story) of Haloa (the “root of life”) and the connection of Hawaiians to this revered food staple, the earth and to all living things. After harvesting the kalo, students learned how to prepare the huli (the leaves were removed and the corm cut from the huli – the top portion of the corm) for planting while volunteers assisted students as they worked to lomi (prepare by massaging & loosening) the soil for the new huli.

By the end of the day, more than 60 new kalo plants were carefully planted by students and volunteers. Students also harvested more than 10 lbs. of ‘olena (turmeric root) which were planted within the kalo patch. Next up, students will learn how to prepare and serve kalo, by pounding poi. This process is called pa’i’ai in Hawaiian. All of this in preparation for a four month long Makahiki Festival and study of the traditional offerings of gratitude to Lono (Hawaiian god of fertility) for a bountiful harvest and the new crops to come!

Link here to a complete slideshow.

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