In Defense of Food


The In Defense of Food curriculum for middle-school aged students was developed by Kikim Media, the producers of the program, in partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University.  It is designed to help adolescents develop something valuable: practical tools for healthier eating. Even though scientists know a lot about food and health, the messages that reach adolescents about healthy eating have become increasingly complex and contradictory. And at an age where they are gaining independence to make their own food choices, they are barraged with advertising that urges them to consume more and more highly processed food products—soda, chips, junk food and fast food—that can put their health at risk. In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in diet-related diseases among adolescents, such as type 2 diabetes. The IDOF Curriculum can do a lot to help. It helps students learn why it is important to eat healthfully, investigate how food companies influence their food choices, and create action plans for changing their eating habits. They become motivated to eat real food, and excited to share what they’ve learned with their family, friends, and community.

Kikim Media is eager to learn how people use the In Defense of Food curriculum and what they think of it. Therefore they would appreciate it if everyone who downloads the materials from PBS lets them know by sending a quick email to eatfood@kikim.com.

 

  • Full Curriculum | In Defense of Food

    Welcome to the In Defense of Food (IDOF) Curriculum. It is designed to help adolescents develop something valuable: practical tools for healthier eating. It helps students learn why it is important to eat healthfully, investigate how food companies influence their food choices, and create action plans for changing their eating habits. They become motivated to eat real food, and excited to share what they’ve learned with their family, friends, and community.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Lesson 1: Where are the Soda Trees? | In Defense of Food

    Using film clips from In Defense of Food and a team activity, students explore healthy eating habits. Students get excited about becoming food defenders and begin learning how to differentiate between food (whole and minimally processed) and phud (highly processed).

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 1: Meet Anthony Scavotto | In Defense of Food

    Learn how a real middle school student, Anthony Scavotto, and his family struggle to figure out what to eat to be healthy so he can play sports without getting tired, like other kids his age. Anthony gained 30 pounds over the course of a year and is faced with possible health problems. He is on a mission to make changes. However, diet-related diseases like diabetes are a real risk for Anthony and others like him. Even when we are trying to make healthy choices, our current food environment makes it very challenging to do so.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 2: Chemical Cuisine | In Defense of Food

    By exploring the ingredients in various foods and phuds, students experience first-hand how phuds are engineered to taste irresistible. Students learn and discuss a new Food Rule around eating foods with easily pronounceable ingredients. 

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 2: Salt, Sugar, Fat | In Defense of Food

    Learn about how the Western Diet, made up of lots of meat and highly processed foods full of salt, sugar and fat, leads to big profits for food companies and poor health for people. Highly processed foods are often engineered to be irresistible, with just the right texture, taste, and smell to lead us to crave them. This works, especially when combined with heavy marketing, so that processed foods are now 60% of what we eat.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 3: Claim Game | In Defense of Food

    Using a clip from In Defense of Food and photos of food packaging, students uncover five "tricky techniques" companies use to sell food products. Then, students create plans to eat foods instead of phuds to avoid the allure of clever packaging. For the first of three Capture It projects, students take a photo or draw a picture of a phud they want to stop eating or eat less of and write about why. 

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 3: Phud Phads | In Defense of Food

    Learn how the discovery of vitamins, while a major scientific achievement, also became a way for the food marketers to convince the public about the next “magic bullet” for optimal health, a trend that continues today. Our confusion about what to eat to be healthy and the food industry’s response has deep historical roots. For instance, while we now think protein is great, at the turn of the century it was demonized, leading to the invention of breakfast cereal. From vitamin donuts to Wonder Bread to today’s gluten-free products, food companies have always been eager to sell products that seem to solve the

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 4: Don't Be Phooled | In Defense of Food

    This is the first lesson of the "Not Too Much" section and builds on the five "tricky techniques" explored in Lesson 3. Students learn that phud logos are everywhere and easily recognized and explore more about the hazards of marketing. For the second "Capture It" project students take a photo or draw a picture of one phud that is really hard for them to resist and write about why that is.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 4: Marketing Low-Fat | In Defense of Food

    Learn why the campaign to reduce fat in our diet is the best example yet of how the science of nutrition can get highjacked by the ideology of nutritionism. For 30 years Americans obsessed about eating low-fat food. Food companies translated this into a marketing strategy and produced scores of processed food products that could be labeled as low-fat or no fat. However, many of these products had high amounts of added sugar. In the end, the low-fat campaign did more to confuse people and decrease health than it helped people to get healthier.

     

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 5: Supersized | In Defense of Food

    In this lesson, students examine portion sizes and how our eyes, as well as food companies, may deceive us in estimating a healthy amount to eat. Through popcorn experiments, along with a clip from In Defense of Food, students learn how to "small size it" and select healthier portions.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 5: Serve More, Eat More | In Defense of Food

    Discover that when food and drinks are served to us in large containers we tend to eat more even when we’re not hungry. Food companies use this strategy to sell more products. The food industry has responded with giant sodas and supersized menu items. Health promotion specialists are using similar “tricks” to help keep people eat less and choose healthier options.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 6: Dia-Beat It! | In Defense of Food

    In this lesson students investigate the changing prevalence rates of type 2 diabetes and learn how this disease develops. Through watching an In Defense of Food clip and participating in a simulation activity, students investigate the impact of diabetes on our nation's youth and calculate the surprising amount of sugar in common foods and beverages. Finally students write a spoken word poem on how sugar and sugary phuds impact their lives.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 6A: Sugar Flood | In Defense of Food

    Learn how prevalent sugar is in most things we consume and how eating and drinking too much of it can contribute to type 2 diabetes. Products containing large amounts of sugar, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, are heavily marketed as normal and even healthy and we now consume far more sugar than we did in the past. This is damaging our health. Learn how type 2 diabetes develops when the body can’t get sugar out of the blood.

     

    Grades: 6-8
  • Clip 6B: Diabetes - An Epidemic | In Defense of Food

    Understand how processed foods that are cheap, convenient and everywhere are making people sick with diseases like diabetes especially in certain communities. Hear a young poet express her concerns about the foods that are making her family sick. Highly processed foods are disproportionately found in and marketed to poor and minority communities. This has contributed to health disparities. There are many campaigns that are raising awareness to reduce these disparities.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 7: Rooting for Plants | In Defense of Food

    This is the first lesson in the “Mostly Plants” section. Students are introduced to the amazing variety of plant-based foods and relate that to MyPlate, our national dietary guidance. Watching a clip from In Defense of Food and learning the Food Rule emphasize eating plant-based foods instead of phuds.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 7: Going Farming! | In Defense of Food

    Learn how in certain neighborhoods it’s very difficult to find fresh, healthy, affordable food. See how some schools are responding by giving students opportunities to get excited about growing, preparing, and eating plant-based food. Educators like Steve Ritz in the Bronx are fed up with seeing their kids getting sick and have found creative ways to help students grow food for themselves and their communities. This can happen anywhere from abandoned lots to hydroponic growing towers in a youth job-training program.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 8: Color Your World | In Defense of Food

    In this lesson, students play a guessing game to explore different fruits and vegetables, emphasizing the diversity of colorful foods available for them to eat. Students prepare and eat a colorful, plant-based salad and brainstorm ways to introduce more colorful plant-based foods in to their diets. For the third Capture It project, students take a photo or draw a picture of a plant-based food that they like to eat with a friend or family member and write about why they like it.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 8: Vegetable Surprise | In Defense of Food

    See how when students have a hand in producing healthy food they are more likely to try new and unfamiliar ingredients. Students in a summer camp get to make homemade pizzas using a wide variety of familiar and unusual vegetables that they harvest from the garden. Their teacher marvels at how many new veggies they are willing to try.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson 9: Lettuce Turnip the Beet | In Defense of Food

    In this lesson students explore plant-based foods enjoyed by their own and other families and cultures and how to face challenges to healthy eating. Students look back on prior lessons to see how they have become "food defenders" who want to eat more food and less phud.

    Grades: 6-8,13+
  • Clip 9: Secrets of the French | In Defense of Food

    Learn that culture can be a very powerful way to teach us how to eat, and how the French have traditions and customs that help them eat well. The French eat at regular times, have routines about the order that courses are served, and believe it is important to eat with other people. Even though the French eat less food than Americans, they spend 135 minutes a day eating while Americans spend 74 minutes. Taking more time to eat can increase the enjoyment and satisfaction we get from food.

    Grades: 6-8

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