Food at Arcadia

Week 8: Food

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body.

Cuisine is about the style of cooking the food.

There are two distinct categories that all foods fit into – junk (or processed) foods and healthy foods.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 4.27.34 PMProcessed foods are foods that are prepared in mass numbers at factories to make it easier to make and eat meals. These include sodas, cookies, and chips.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 4.28.21 PMHealthy foods are food prepared in a kitchen for individual consumption. They include fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats, and beans.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 4.30.18 PMAnthropologists study food because it tells us a great deal about the people in a culture. The level of technology people have, the types of environment people live in, and the level of nutrition and health are all things that can be better understood by studying the food of a culture.

Pictured are traditional meals from West Africa, including squash stew and cooked bananas with beans. Students tried several dishes indigenous to the area.

 

Activity 1:

Each student group will free list for two minutes all the foods that they can think of, no matter the type. Then the students will take these foods and place them in different categories, such as good and junk food. Students were asked why they put these foods into different categories and discuss why each person may have different conceptions of what is good/junk food or what meal a food belongs in.

Students were very competent and realized that “chicken” or “potatoes” could be considered healthy or unhealthy, depending on how it was prepared. A student noted chicken breast cooked in olive oil is nutritious, while chicken wings dipped in buffalo sauce is not. Tea also ended up in the ‘middle’, because hot tea without sugar or milk is very healthy, but sweet tea is full of sugar.

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Activity 2:

Students ate cuisine from West Africa, prepared by Anna. Some recipes were modified, however, to not include peanut oil. The students ate:

• Sweet Potato Fritters

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• Banana Fritters

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• Fresh mango

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• Crickets (again)

I was happy every student tasted all four items available. No one in the class had eaten mango or sweet potatoes before (as far as they were aware). One student asked us to show a picture of a whole mango so that she could ask her mother to purchase one next time they went grocery shopping.

Ending thoughts:

During the first activity, most of the students noted they ate lots of processed foods and most of their meals were cooked in fatty oils or excessive amounts of butter. In deliberately choosing dishes popular in West Africa, we were able to expose students to cuisine outside of the traditional regional staples.

Primates – TMSE

By Molly Jaworski

This week at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School we discussed Primates. We started the class reviewing key concepts from our previous lectures. I asked the class a series of 4 questions to test their knowledge on what we have learned up until this point.

  • What are the four subfields of Anthropology?
  • What is ethnography?
  • What is Archeology
  • And why are museums important?

The students seem to grasp the main idea of each of these questions and as one student would answer it would jog the memory of another who wished to contribute to the answer as well.

After our review session I started this week’s discussion on Primates. My main goal was to make sure that the students could properly identify the definition of a primate and the differences in types of primates. After explaining what a primate is to the class I asked the students to identify the differences in Apes and Monkeys! Everyone in class was eager to answer. Based on their answers it was clear they didn’t quite know the difference between the two. They were shocked when I explained that apes don’t have tails but monkeys do! After a bit of discussion and some questions from the students I moved on to primate social organizations, which the students seemed to grasp easily. The next section…well it definitely caused the most commotion- Primate Diet! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the students knew the difference in carnivore, omnivore, and herbivore without any help from myself or the other instructors. The excitement most definitely stemmed from the image of the tarsier eating a bug (many students thought we would get to eat them during this class).

After the lesson I let the students ask questions and then we broke off into our clans for a bit of a competitive activity- A SCAVENGER HUNT! The students were to act as primates and replicate choices a primate would make with regard to security, group safety and survival.

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SUPPLIES:

Construction paper fruit (yellow and red)                                          Value:  5 points

Construction paper leaves/stems (green)                                           Value: 1 point

Construction paper insects (ants, grubs, and protein)                     Value: 3 points

Construction paper primate infants.                                                     Value: 10 points

SCAVENGER HUNT RULES:

  • Search the “forest” (classroom) to find as many calories as you can and bring them back to the troop.
  • Students must use primate locomotion (knuckle walking)
  • Primates can only carry one food item since they are not bipedal.
  • Students can steal food that is unguarded. They can also steal unguarded infant primates.
  • To be protected from stealing food or infants, two people must be at the “home base.”
    • One person is not enough to protect it.
  • However, student groups can choose to leave as few or as many people at the nest as they wish.
  • At the end of the time, groups will reunite and scores will be added up.
  • A group automatically loses if all of their infants are stolen.

I had originally expected the activity to take quite a bit of time for the students and so as an incentive we told the clans, as they were preparing their group plan, that there would be prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams. This did however; make them focus on winning and the hunt ended a little too quickly. At the end of the hunt the student teachers of each clan added the points of each clan and we announced the order of the winners. As promised there were prizes, and those prizes were……CRICKETS AND MEALWORMS!!!! The students were so excited to be able to eat these critters, some of them had been anticipating this for weeks! I was shocked that for the most part they were all willing, excited, and happy to eat the crickets and many of them enjoyed them!

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Because the activity ended early. We needed to fill up the rest of class time with another activity, one that Lynn provided for the class. The activity was called Primate Anatomy, and she discussed evolution of the locomotion of primates and the differences of anatomy and locomotion of humans and primates. For the activity she had students walk normal, knuckle walk like apes, walk without the use of their knees (straight legged), walk without the use of their big toes (on the sides of their feet), and lastly with long toes ( paper was taped to their toes and they had to attempt to walk without bending the ‘long toes’).

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Overall the class went extremely smoothly and the entire class enjoyed themselves. I was very proud at their ability to follow directions correctly and listen to their instructors during the scavenger hunt.

 

Primates and Diet

Mid-digit Hair
Mid-digit Hair

Hello everybody,

The next several posts will include the lesson plans we used for the UA partnership with the Tuscaloosa Magnet School. This semester the classes were taught by Taylor Burbach, Meghan Steel, and Erica Schumann, with the direction of graduate student Greg Batchelder. Enjoy!

Week 5: Primates and Diet

Topic: Primate Diet

One of the ways that physical anthropologists learn about people is to study our nearest living relatives – primates. Primates include any member of the group of animals that includes human beings, apes, and monkeys. Learning about how primates navigate their world helps us understand the challenges and survival strategies that humans had to face in the past.

Primatologists, or specialists who study primates, are especially interested in learning how primates address one of the biggest issues that we all face: how to feed your family. Each primate species has a different from of social organization, although all primate species have to figure out how to survive against the odds. This week’s activity will ask each student group to come up with a survival strategy that protects their young while gathering food.

Discussion: Primates

  • Primates- any member of the group of animals that includes human beings, apes, and monkeys.
  • Ape: closely related to monkeys and humans and that is covered in hair and has no tail or a very short tail
    1. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and humans
  • Monkey: smaller bodied, with tails, some monkeys have different dental formula
    1. Old World monkeys: baboons, macaques, colobus monkeys, etc.
      1. No prehensile tail
    2. New World monkeys: spider monkeys, marmosets, howler monkeys, etc.
      1. Do have prehensile tails

 

  1. Social organization: What drives primate social organization?
    • Competition for mates, safety, social organization, form of paternal care
    • Advantages & disadvantages to larger group sizes?
      1. Protection, shared care of young, etc.
    • Advantages & disadvantages to smaller group sizes?
  2. Diet:
    • Carnivore, omnivore, herbivore
    • Most primates are herbivores, omnivores, or opportunistic carnivores.
      1. Cannibalism occurs
    • Foods have different caloric values, which means that some foods are “worth” more than others.
      1. E.g., fruit is high calorie, high carb. Leafy greends may have important nutrients but low calorie counts. Other foods may be good food sources but are hard to catch (like crickets).
      2. Primates have to strategize to balance energy expenditure and food intake. This is even more important with large social groups, who may share resources.

 Activity: Meddling Monkey Scavenger Hunt

This game replicates the choices that primates make with regard to food security, group safety, and survival. Students will be separated into groups (each a different primate species) with a set number of primate infants per group.

Objective: Gather as many calories as possible while protecting the infants in your group.

Rules:

  • Search the “forest” (classroom) to find as many calories as you can and bring them back to the troop.
  • Primates can only carry one food item since they are not bipedal.
  • Students can steal food that is unguarded. They can also steal unguarded infant primates.
  • To be protected from stealing food or infants, two people must be at the “home base.”
    • One person is not enough to protect it.
  • However, student groups can choose to leave as few or as many people at the nest as they wish.
  • At the end of the time, groups will reunite and scores will be added up.
  • A group automatically loses if all of their infants are stolen.

Supplies:

Construction paper fruit (yellow and red)                                             Value: 5 points

Construction paper leaves/stems (green)                                            Value: 1 point

Construction paper insects (ants, grubs, and protein)                     Value: 3 points

Construction paper primate infants.                                                        Value: 10 points

Primate Food and Communication

Speaking of communication (pun intended–get it?), we wanted to share with the kids how our closest living non-human relatives communicate. How is human communication and symbolic behavior similar or different than other primates? We started by talking about some of the basic similarities and differences between us and other primates (video of primate skulls). For instance, the kids suggested that the space program sent chimps into space before humans because they are so much like humans, that we would be able to understand how human bodies would respond by seeing how chimp bodies responded.

But what we really wanted to get at is how primates learn. Do they learn by going to school like humans? Certainly not. Humans purposefully teach, while other primates tend to learn by watching. For instance, how does a young ape or monkey know what to eat or what not to eat? To explore this, our activity involved presenting the kids with a variety of possible primate foods, but not the kind human primates from Tuscaloosa are necessarily used to seeing. We presented them with an omnivore’s dilemma–what do I eat when my choices are insects (roasted crickets with salt, in this case), nuts (without nutcrackers), a variety of plant leaves and vegetables, and a giant spiky fruit that smells like dirty sweat socks? The differences in the wild, of course, are that our young primates would have to catch the bugs (but we are preadapted for that with 3-D vision and nimble fingers), climb to the leaves, figure out how to open the nut without pulverizing it, and avoid poisoning oneself (we brought in all non-toxic vegetation for this exercise). As the kids discovered, the best ways to figure out what to eat are to watch what other animals of your species eat and then take a little nibble. One child found he had a taste for insectivory, eating the crickets like dry roasted peanuts, while another found he had a taste for banana peppers straight off the vine. Most found the spikes of the durian fruit formidable when there was so much else available. However, many of the leaves were tough and chewy without something to wash them down.