Iron Green Chef
MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO: Our food choices have environmental consequences.
- Think of your favorite meal. Where do all of the ingredients come from?
- What resources were required to produce those ingredients?
- When you or your parents go shopping for food, how do you make choices about which products to buy?
- What are some differences between a fast food hamburger and one that you make at home?
- How much time does your family spend cooking at home?
- What are the differences between the hamburger buns used by the Green Ninja and Artie? Which one would you like to eat?
- How does the meat that is chosen by each chef differ?
- How does the Green Ninja further alter her hamburger to be more environmentally friendly?
- How does each chef cook a hamburger? What is an advantage of using a gas-powered grill for cooking?
- List at least four differences between the condiments and toppings used by the Green Ninja and Artie.
- Why does Artie’s tomato come to life?
- How is each hamburger served? Why should you use a reusable plate rather than a disposable one?
- Why is one of the chefs called ‘Artie Fisher’? Does his name remind you of any other word?
- What ideas from the Green Ninja cooking show do you think your whole family will like?
- Pick a meal that you eat frequently at your house. Based on the video, how can you modify it to be more environmentally friendly?
- Think of the foods you eat during the week. Are there any that have more environmentally friendly alternatives?
Answers to Discussion Questions
Questions 1 and 2 are modeled after an activity found in the “Buy, Use and Toss” curricular unit from Facing the Future. It is available for purchase on the FTF website.
- Answers will vary depending on student experience. Ask students to break down the components of their meal into individual ingredients. For example, what makes up a hamburger bun (wheat) and where does that come from?
- Answers will vary depending on student experience. In the case of a hamburger bun, land and water (and possibly fertilizers and pesticides) are needed to grow the wheat. Gas and electricity are required to transport the crop for processing. There are environmental and human impacts from all of these resources.
- Answers will vary. Some families might make decisions based solely on price, while others might only look for organic or local foods.
- Answers will vary depending on cooking style, type of meat, etc. The website eatingwell.com has a blog post that compares a traditionally made burger to that of McDonald’s. Some key findings: McDonald’s burgers generally have more fat, calories and sodium than a home cooked burger (and less vitamin A, C and iron). McDonald’s buns have 16 ingredients, as compared to 5 in the typical Kaiser roll.
- Answers will vary. Key discussion points might include an analysis of who lives in the home, their working hours/occupation, and cooking time. For example, families with parents working full time or more might not cook as much as families with fewer working hours.
- Green Ninja: Fresh, whole grain bun. Artie: Pre-packaged (not fresh), processed white bun (not whole grain) with a lot of packaging. Hopefully students would prefer a fresh bun with fewer ingredients.
- Green Ninja: Grass-fed beef (humanely processed). Artie: Box of grain-fed (industrial) beef.
- She adds vegetables in to the ground beef, making it healthier and using less beef per patty.
- Green Ninja: Gas-powered grill (more environmentally friendly than charcoal grill and tastes just as good). Artie: Microwave.
- Green Ninja: Homemade roasted red pepper sauce, seasoned mixed greens, local organic cheddar cheese, dry farmed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce/garlic mix, and homemade pickles. Artie: Travel-sized ketchup packets, frozen lettuce, squeeze cheese, mayonnaise, bacon, and a genetically modified tomato.
- Artie’s tomato is genetically modified.
- Green Ninja: Reusable plate. Artie: Styrofoam, single-use plate. Reusable plates use fewer resources and are more environmentally friendly.
- The name of the chef ‘Artie Fisher’ is eluding to the word ‘Artificial’. The students should be able to make the connection that Artie mostly used artificial products instead of natural ones.
- Answers will vary. Some students might want to experiment with mixing vegetables into the hamburger patty, while others might be intrigued by the fresh-looking mixed greens and red pepper sauce.
- Answers will vary. Students might decide to experiment by using locally made organic cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich or ask their parents to visit a farmer’s market to pick out fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown in-season and locally for use in family dinners.
- Answers will vary. Some students might have heard of “meatless Mondays” and be interested in trying to eat like a vegetarian once a week. Some students might want to add more vegetables/topping to their lunch sandwiches or burgers at home.
ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
Analyze a food label. Ask students to bring in a food label and analyze its contents to assess how healthy it is (for example, how many servings are there? How many of the calories come from fat? The USDA recommends no more than 30% of calories come from fat). Use this example given on the pbskids.org website as a guide for analysis.
Provide students with an introduction to various measures of environmental impact via the concept of a “footprint”.
A carbon footprint measures how much various lifestyle choices can contribute to carbon dioxide emissions. There is a fun online carbon footprint calculator at the global footprint network that takes into consideration individual choices around housing style, diet, and travel (the students can create an avatar).
The environmental working group (EWG) produced a graph showing the relationship between food and kg of carbon dioxide produced. More information can be found on their website.
The water footprint measures how much water is required for selected activities, or food choices. Ask students to analyze or present the data below. You could do this in many ways. Divide to class into small groups, and ask them to create a bar graph comparing the liters of water/kg of five of the foods listed below. (With graphing paper or in excel) Alternatively, you could have four groups, and each is tasked with presenting the data in one of the columns. For a faster learning experience, ask students to analyze the table and pick out the most and least water-intensive foods.
|liter/kg||liter/kcal||liter/gram protein||liter/gram fat|
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
-Several short video clips and corresponding curriculum from the documentary “Food, Inc.” are available on the PBS POV website. These clips explore topics such as the health impacts of fast food, the relationship between socioeconomic status and diet and the impact of genetically modified seeds on small farmers. In addition to the video clips, there are many readings and activities centered on food and the environment/GDP/social justice and other themes.
-Host a class potluck with homemade and locally sourced foods, or have an iron man class competition with simple foods, like salad ingredients.
-Learn how to reduce your carbon “foodprint” at:
-Scientific fact and culinary art. Check out the book:
- Cool Cuisine: Taking The Bite Out of Global Warming by Laura Stec and Eugene Cordero
Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Lee Pruett.