Food preservation science for the whole family!
We have a further update on our program's response to the COVID-19 outbreak: we have extended our cancellation of all public events to last through May 31, 2020. All of our volunteers and staff are continuing to stay home at least until that date. As the situation continues to evolve, we will strive to keep you updated through email, our website, and social media.
In light of the fact that we can't offer you in-person learning opportunities, and especially with the knowledge that many of you may be home-schooling kids who are hungry for some hands-on STEAM activities, we've put together a few fun resources for that we'd like to share, to help you learn about the science of food and food preservation at home.
For any food safety questions you might have, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Home from school? Learn science through food!
Our colleagues at 4-H have developed an entire food science curriculum for grades 6-12, covering baking, protein chemistry, fruits and vegetables, and food science careers. There are curriculum materials available for online purchase at their website, as well as informative videos, podcasts, glossaries, and links for free.
Frontiers for Young Minds is a real peer-reviewed science journal targeted to readers aged 8-12. If you're tired of textbooks, check out these articles related to food and agriculture written by scientists and reviewed by kids:
- A Delicious Story Made of Chocolate (Medina et al., 2020)
- How Do Fruits Ripen? (Moirangthem & Tucker, 2018)
- Is Throwing an Apple Core Out of the Car Littering?—Microbial Communities in Natural Composting (Albright & Martiny, 2018)
- Bacteria Have Superpowers to Recycle Soil Nutrients (Tapia-Torres & Morón-Cruz et al., 2019)
- What is the Nitrogen Cycle and Why Is It Key to Life? (Aczel, 2019)
- Break it Down! How Scientists are Making Fuel Out of Plants (Luterbacher & Luterbacher, 2015)
And to get your kids involved in a real science research project at home, see the NC State Wild Sourdough project below.
Food science learning for the adults in the crowd
You'll find some great geeky reading about all things fermented-- including microbe profiles and handy infographics-- at microbialfoods.org, a blog written by Tufts professor Ben Wolfe and writer/ cheese buyer Bronwen Percival.
North Carolina State University is offering a series of mini-seminars on "Fermentology: the applied ecology, evolution, history, and culture of fermented food", every week through August! The seminars are held online via Zoom, last only 20 minutes, and are targeted at a broad audience (you don't have to be a scientist!). Find details and online registration here, or watch past talks on the NC State Applied Ecology channel on YouTube.
Be a scientist at home: grow some wild sourdough to be part of a global research project!
The Dunn lab at NC State wants YOUR help with an enormous study they're conducting to understand how geography and flour type affect sourdough. Start a wild sourdough starter from scratch at home (it takes only a little more than 1 cup of flour, and you can use any kind!), make observations on its rising behavior, its sensory properties, and how it bakes, and send in your data to the Dunn Lab. You'll become part of an already-robust community they've founded around the science of sourdough. Find details on how to participate-- and even a teacher's guide to help you incorporate this activity into a science curriculum-- at their website.
Speaking of sourdough...
We here at the MFP program are aware that interest in sourdough is, um, rising. So here are a few extension-approved resources from our colleagues in other states, to give you an idea of what a diversity of information is out there!
- From University of Alaska Fairbanks:
how to start a starter, and recipes that use sourdough
- From North Carolina State University: resources on sourdough baking (even if you aren't participating in their research)
- From the University of Wyoming: on sourdough history
- From North Dakota State University: a simple recipe for whole-wheat sourdough starter
Can't bear to throw away the sourdough starter that gets discarded when you refresh yours? King Arthur Flour has you covered with some fantastic recipes for making use of that discarded starter. Cut down on food waste and conserve flour in these days when flour can be hard to come by!
Best wishes from your friends at the MFP program. We're hoping you can find time during shelter-in-place to explore, learn, and practice food science at home.