The Science of Food


What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese! All jokes aside, learn about the science of food with the following PBS Learning Media Food Science collection. Whether understanding the biology of taste, or how chocolate is made, these resources explain the science behind your favorite foods.

  • The Science and Art of Cheese | QUEST

    Learn about the chemical functions of various ingredients utilized during the science and art of cheese making, and how cheesemakers study the process, in this QUEST video produced by KQED. The video also explains how the cheese making process is varied to alter the final texture and taste of the cheese.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Science of Taste | QUEST

    As scientists decode how our taste and olfactory receptors work, top California chefs are using that knowledge to create alchemy in the kitchen. Learn about the elements that make up flavor, explore how top chefs use science to create particular flavor sensations, and review examples of how sensory science impacts our lives in this video segment from QUEST, produced by KQED.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Secrets of Sourdough | QUEST

    Learn about the science of fermentation and hear an explanation of how the process of making sourdough bread differs from other breadmaking in this QUEST video from KQED. It also an account of how breadmaking is both a science and an art

    Grades: 6-12
  • Next Meal: Engineering Food

    An exploration of genetically engineered crops in the wake of Proposition 37, the 2012 ballot initiative that would have required foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled in California. Prop 37 was defeated, but some 6 million Californians voted in favor of labeling, signaling that many aren't completely comfortable with genetically engineered food.

    Are the benefits of genetically engineered foods worth the risks?

    This video from QUEST Northern California is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Sweet Science of Chocolate

    In this video segment from KQED’s QUEST, chocolate makers explain the elaborate engineering and chemistry behind this tasty treat.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Food Is Fuel

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about the potential energy contained in food. Correspondent and technology columnist David Pogue explores how a rat is digested by a snake and how food fuels the body. Scientist Stephen Secor demonstrates how to measure the amount of energy stored in a food using a bomb calorimeter. Portions of a dehydrated cupcake and rat are burned in a special tank; the results show that the cupcake has twice as many calories as the same amount of rat.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Plants Find Food

    In this video segment from Nature: "What Plants Talk About," ecologist James Cahill describes how root growth in plants follows patterns similar to those of animal foraging, how plants identify and select their food sources in the first place, and what that selection suggests about their level of behavior.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Turning Food Waste Into a Resource

    Find out how one company is using discarded produce from grocery stores to help farmers grow better crops—all with a little help from technology—in this video from SciTech Now. Support materials will also provide an opportunity for students to explore the role of decomposers in natural fertilizers, and to investigate the final destination of the food waste from their school cafeteria.

    Grades: 5-12
  • The Food Chain

    Alfalfa is sold to a dairy, the dairy feeds it to the cows......those cows will produce milk, that milk will be hauled to town and turned into bottled milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, all kinds of dairy products that are sold throughout the state. We use a lot of water to grow these crops and so the real consumer of that water is the public, when they buy and consume the food.

    Grades: 4-13+