Food plays an extremely important role in the lives of all consumers. Most teenagers recognise this and have an interest in food. They are aware that food supplies the energy and nutrients the body needs to maintain health and wellbeing.
Rationale for these resources
By developing students’ knowledge and understanding of some of the basic science ideas that underpin the structure and function of food’s vital ingredients, they will have a firmer foundation on which to base the food and nutrition choices they make on a daily basis.
Research into foods and food chemistry is very much market driven, and with its strong agriculture and horticultural base, New Zealand is playing a leading role in some aspects of this. It is important that students be informed of this and given insight into some of the research programmes currently operating in the food chemistry field. Plant & Food Research has areas of relevance to these resources and is prominently featured.
Two big science ideas have been identified:
- Unique properties of carbon leading to its ability to form an immense diversity of compounds.
- Structure and function of foods we eat to maintain health and wellbeing.
Science ideas and concepts
Six science ideas and concept areas, evolving from the overarching theme of the unique properties of carbon and the structure and function of foods, have been identified:
- Carbon – life’s framework element
- Macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats
- Micronutrients – vitamins and minerals
- Dietary fibre – more than just roughage
- Water – the frequently overlooked food component
- Phytochemicals – biologically active chemicals in plant foods.
Other articles pick up on several of the science ideas and give a more in-depth analysis that fits in with the researcher stories.
New Zealand research
Three research areas involving scientists from Plant & Food Research support and add interest to this group of resources on the site:
- Dr Arjan Scheepens’s work with a class of functional foods called ‘mood foods’.
- Dr David Stevenson’s work with antioxidant plant chemicals known as polyphenols.
- Dr Sean Bulley’s work with vitamin C production in plants.
The video clips of these 3 scientists, each explaining aspects of their work and research programmes, add interest and the ‘human’ side of science to these resources. Carolyn Cairncross from the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation also features in several video clips giving advice on healthy eating practices.
Activities have been developed to highlight the science ideas and concepts, which focus on the structure and function of key food components. In addition, teacher resource articles dealing with the structure of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids have been written.
The following quote is from the Ministry of Education’s guidelines Food and Nutrition for Healthy Confident Kids
All young people need to be able to make food and beverage choices based on their cultural preferences and on sound knowledge and information. Children and young people need to understand the importance of food and nutrition to all aspects of their health and wellbeing, including their mental, physical, and emotional health. They need to be able to interpret the many messages they receive and to make choices about changing their own eating patterns rather than being told ‘what is good for them’. They can also influence the eating patterns of others in their environment.
Food and nutrition is important to our young people and is relevant to their lives. Our resources have been designed to provide key information about the basic chemical structure and functioning of the essential components found in the foods we eat.