Introduction: Since the origin of humanity, food has been an essential component of society. Across centuries families and communities have been “breaking bread” together, so to speak, for centuries, however a shift in American food production in the mid-twentieth century towards a mass production/fast food culture has drastically changed Western society’s eating habits. Families rush through a drive through for dinner, 5 minute meals cookbooks fly off the shelves in bookstores and libraries, and it has become increasingly common for kids to eat solely pre-packaged, processed meals. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) obesity amongst children and adolescents has tripled since 1980. Presently, over 17%–or 12.5 million–children in the United States ages 2-19 are obese. These alarming statistics trigger a gamut of questions, two of the most significant being: is there a lack of information on nutrition and healthy eating habits? Or is there simply a lack of awareness/usage of these nutrition resources? This bibliography targets the latter question by compiling a list of multimedia resources appropriate for middle grade children–examining text, realia, web and media sources. Cookbooks are included in realia, because the often the best way to demystify healthy food choices is to see, touch, create and taste them yourself.
CDC. “Obesity Rates among all Children in the United States.” Accessed November 22, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html/
Target Age: 2nd-5th grade
Schlosser, Erick and Charles Wilson. Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food. Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
Chew on This explores the sinister economic, agricultural and health implications of the fast food industry by recounting the inception and growth of this type of food preparation and distribution. The sheer size (318 pages!) of Schlosser’s and Wilson’s book may intimidate readers; however, its lively tone and stand-alone chapters make this book an engaging read.
Bramwell, Martyn. Food Watch. Dorling Kindersley, 2001.
In true DK fashion Food Watch teems with graphics, text boxes and beautiful full color photographs. Bramwell discusses topics that are deceptively obvious, such as where food really comes from. Targeting the disparity between food scarcity in developing states and the abundance of food in the first world, Bramwell points out, “Pie eating contests are fun, but only rich people can afford to waste food. Tonnes of unwanted food and packaging are thrown away every day” (13). Food Watch decodes buzzwords readers may be familiar with but not really understand, such as “fair trade, “famine,” “nutritionist,” and includes numerous experiments, such as ripening bananas to look for ethylene that further illustrate Bramwell’s narrative (21). Overall this book is fascinating, frightening and completely on point in regards to the production, packaging and dispersion of food not only in North America but throughout the world.
Goldberg, Jake. Food: The Struggle to Sustain the Human Community. Franklin Watts, 1999.
Goldberg asserts on the dust jacket of his book, “Food is the fuel of human labor, and everything we have accomplished, or failed to accomplish depends upon it.” Because a trip to the local supermarket does little to reflect the story of how food really is grown, produced and distributed–and the impact of these activities on the world–Goldberg delves deeply and eloquently into topics such as the origin of food, agricultural development, food and civilization, hunger and more. This book is relatively lengthy (204 pages) and text heavy, so it would be best for older readers.
Powell, Jillian. Everyone Eats: Rice. Raintree, Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
Powell’s book explores the composition, farming and customs surrounding the world’s second most popular grain: rice (4). Complete with full color illustrations, photographs and recipes this book is an excellent tool to educate young readers a food they may often eat, but know very little about.
Peeples, H. I. Where Does this Come From?: Bubble Gum. Contemporary Books, Inc.
Annotation: This matter-of-fact book draws upon the origins, production and consumption habits of bubble gum. While it does discuss corn syrup and synthetic ingredients Peeples does not delve into the consequences of excessive sugary gum chewing, such as increased risk of cavities. This brief book would be best for younger readers (i.e. 1st-3rd grade). Read more…