The salad was made of chopped purple cabbage, shredded carrots and diced green onions and dressed with a blend of sesame and canola oils.
Not a bad dish for a group of elementary students to whip up.
And that’s exactly what fifth-grade students at Mountain View Elementary School did Tuesday as part of a "food adventure" intended to introduce them to healthy-eating concepts through lessons that involve cooking. While the school, and others in the district, have had similar lessons in past years, this year all classes at Mountain View are having the food adventures every month.
The Corvallis Environmental Center puts on the food adventures as part of its Farm to School program, which also puts on monthly tasting tables with fresh fruits and vegetables for Corvallis and Philomath schools.
Tory Fingerle, a AmeriCorps volunteer working with the environmental center, said the Mountain View PTA gave the $1,500 needed to fund the monthly food adventures for the whole school.
Fingerle, who teaches the lessons at Mountain View, said the students have really embraced them.
“This is when they are doing a lot of growing, so if we can get them excited about cooking they can bring that home … we go through the kids to their homes,” she said.
The lessons the students get align to the foods that are featured at the month’s tasting tables. During Tuesday’s lesson, the purple cabbage was the featured item. During last month’s food adventure, Mountain View students made salsa, which was very popular with the kids.
Before kids made the salad, they were given a lesson about the FDA’s MyPlate diagram, which illustrates recommendations for how much of each food group should be in a meal. The salsa lesson was about the idea of eating a “rainbow of food” based on the fact that foods with different colors tend to have different nutritional properties.
The salad the kids made with some carrots grated for them by a volunteer, and the other ingredients the kids cut up themselves with safety scissors and crinkle cutters.
After the kids got a chance to sample the salad, Fingerle asked them what they thought of it and how the recipe could be improved.
“They take in a lot and are really adventurous at this age,” she said of the kids’ response to the lesson.
Anna Beck, an 11-year-old in the class, said she thinks the lessons are fun.
“I like it because it teaches kids things can taste good even if they’re healthy,” she said.
She said she’s learned that people need to eat a variety of foods, and she liked both the salad and the salsa they had made in the class.
Anna added that she thought it was good kids learned about good nutrition so they could have good health.
“It’s perfect for kids to learn at this point in their life rather than later when you are unhealthy,” she said.
Tyson King, a 10-year-old who worked with Anna, said he thought the lesson was well-timed in being right after Halloween.
“Kids have gotten so addicted to candy,” he said. “At least I have.”
He said he thought the lessons about eating healthy foods and having variety were good for kids.
“You can start good habits earlier,” he said.
Food adventures at Mountain View for this month continue this week and next.
Anthony Rimel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.