Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Course for Clara

After a too-strenuous year of ninth grade (if she kept on at that rate she'd be done with high school at fifteen), Clara and I decided against her doing a traditional history or science course this year. We kicked around some ideas of things she might want to study, but nothing really sparked her, until this.

A course on Eating.

We're both fascinated. Starting with a history of food preparation and other housework, moving on to a history of why and how food started to become processed, then a couple of books that take on typical eating in modern America.


We're also looking at how to do it right.


So that's our history, our science, our home ec, and our common sense for the year.

A list of resources:
More Work for Mother (Cowan)
Fast Food Nation (Schlosser)
The Omnivore's Dilemma (Pollan)
The End of Overeating (Kessler)
The Hidden Art of Homemaking (Schaeffer)
Under the Tuscan Sun (Mayes)

68 comments:

Polly said...

How utterly brilliant, and what great resources! I know both of you will enjoy this fascinating course of study. Another interesting book along these lines you might want to take a peek at sometime during the year is Food in History by Reay Tannahill--an interesting & comprehensive look at food throughout, well, history.

Little Miss Flossy said...

Another one you might like which my students enjoyed when we studied a similar topic is Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

E. said...

How interesting! I think I would love to homeschool my son and focus on developing his God-given interests and talents, but I'm not sure homeschooling an only child would be responsible vis a vis his social development. We shall have to be diligent in discovering and nuturing his gifts after school.

Lyn said...

I also wanted to recommend Animal Vegetable Miracle. Curious what she things of Fast Food Nation.

Sonja said...

Love it! Great idea and many of the books I've perused or are on my reading list. I agree with Little Miss Flossy about Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It's beside my nightstand, borrowed from my sister who raves about it.

sharalyns said...

Along with Animal Vegetable Mineral, I'd add Twinkie Deconstructed. Interesting look into food processing. Also, to watch: King Corn.

Bethany Hudson said...

What a fantastic idea! Now, if you're not careful, she's going to end up with a college thesis on the subject!

Polly said...

Oh yes, I forgot about Kingsolver. Wonderful book, esp nice to read through the seasons (she starts in March). My best friend & I did it that way! Not exactly in step w/ the traditional schoolyear, but still. A great book in any season.

Maggie May said...

This makes me so happy I want to cry.

Hana said...

This is amazing... and seems to me sort of academic! To focus on a certain idea/topic and research it from different points of view. I sort of wish I would have done something like that when I was her age...

Laura said...

Hello from an avid reader but rare commenter as I usually read in Google Reader which doesn't allow for comments directly. But I HAD to go to your site to leave a comment to recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which, no surprise, others have recommended as well! I read it like a novel, could barely put it down! Enjoy the course!
I'm curious, is there coursework to go along with the readings?

Tracey said...

What a great idea! I think if we knew more of the history, we may all eat better. I think this is very useful and something everyone should learn. I think I may want to join your class as well.

Thirkellgirl said...

Good for you both, and I completely understand (we homeschool also). She needs a Joy of Cooking as a reference, too! All the "about... amaranth" sorts of blurbs are fascinating! I third the recommendation of Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, too.

Regan Family Farm said...

Two comments from my almost 16 year old homemaker-in-training..."lucky!" and "Finish high school by 15????"
Great unit study plan...enjoy.

Florence said...

I think I'll study along with Clara!!

Becky said...

What a great idea! That would fascinate me as well. I hope you will share some of what you learn. We could all use a better approach to this necessity!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea! You all are such treasures! I suppose you have a bibliography longer than the equator, but I guess I'll just mention, if you haven't already seen it (could that be?):
marshillaudio.org has a plethora of engaging materials on a variety of topics, including some regarding cultural aspects of eating, food, etc. There is some description available, as well as references "for further reading". Their audio materials are available via internet MP3.
What an interesting year you have on the horizon.

Buttercup

Anonymous said...

What fun! I also heartily recommend Animal Vegetable Miracle - it is a really enjoyable read with lots and lots of useful information - one of the best books I've ever read, possibly in some ways life-changing. It's funny to me that a few years ago this would be a very hard course of study to prepare materials for, but you could hardly have picked something more culturally relevant at this point - it's a big deal everywhere. Good luck!!
Gracie

sweet simplicity said...

I love this idea! I may have to check one or two of those books out of the library myself. :)

Lisateresa said...

Oh, my!
1. The book by Tannahill which Polly mentioned - we have it at the library; it's a good one.
2. Bethany Hudson's remark about the college thesis - I had the same thought when I read your post! :)
3. "Under the Tuscan Sun"!!!!!!!!!
Quite possibly my favorite book of all time (of a non-spiritual nature)!!! And I want to add, since I think Clara likes audio books, the Recorded Books version read by Barbara Caruso is absolutely - I don't know; it's almost musical, or poetic - the way she reads it. She's perfect for reading that book! But read it first, then if you like it, listen.

Lisateresa said...

I also forgot to say: how sensible and relaxed, and open-minded your approach your method is.

Anonymous said...

How neat! I would highly recomment Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It's not only a cookbook, but gives detailed food history and health information on every page! Hard to fully describe this wonderful resource, as there is just so much inside.

Mrs. Jorgenson said...

Fast Food Nation is very interesting, but don't bother with the movie: it's lewd and pointless.

As far as Pollan goes, I would also recommend In Defense of Food, which I enjoyed very much.

Seems like an excellent course to me!

laurel said...

Now THAT is a course of study I would love!! How very fun!! I love Under a Tuscan Sun and enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma as well. I think that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver would be a great addition to the reading list.

jodi said...

What a great selection of books. Polyface farm which is mentioned in Omnivore's Dilemma is an interesting place to visit near Staunton Virginia.

Deb said...

This sounds so neat. I would love to hear what other interesting homeschooling ideas you have come up with.

Naptime Seamstress said...

I've read some of those books and really enjoyed them! I'll "third" the recommendation of Kingsolver's book. And add another one: The Overeating of America by David Kessler.

Loral said...

This study sounds positively fascinating! I so enjoyed 'The Hidden Art of Homemaking,' I'll have to check out the other titles. This is one of the reasons I love homeschooling...complete individualization :)

Kristin said...

That is homeschooling at its best! I will check out of few of those titles- I agree about adding the Kingsolver book-it's fab!

Mrs Furious said...

I see that you might become inundated with curriculum ideas... but... I am currently reading The Food of a Younger Land edited by Mark Kurlansky. It is a compilation of essays, written in the 30s as a WPA funded project, about regional foods. It's been a quick and fascinating read.

Secondstreetdesigns said...

Have her read SALT too- amazing history of SALT and its value since the beginning of time. What a fun course she will have!

Linda said...

I will just agree with everyone else on what a great idea this is. Perhaps Clara could write a blog while she's doing this study. I would love to read it!

Lena said...

An interesting course to study... lucky for your girl... what would you recomend for a kindergarten, if doing homeschooling? The hidden art of homemaking, sounds really interesting, I will have to check it out. Thanks, and have a fun school year.

Rebekah said...

What glorious freedom, and such a delightful subject!

Val said...

How very useful! Much more so than many of the things that I learned in school, only to forget. Please keep us updated on how this goes!

Anonymous said...

I discovered a love of food history a few years back. I would recommend Fashionable Food, Seven Decades of Food Fads by Sylvia Lovegren (1920's - 1990's). And I've always enjoyed the food descriptions in Grace Livingston Hill's books, as well as the clothing & homemaking. This sounds like a really enjoyable experience for you both!
-Connie

Anonymous said...

I recommend "A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove" by Laura Schenone every chance I get. It's American history told through recipes and the title alone makes it worth reading.

Karen said...

I would add M.F.K Fisher to the list, especially her wonderful book "How to Cook a Wolf"--all about how they cooked during wartimes. Of course, she has a lot of other writings, but that one is my favorite.

Brambleberry said...

I love this idea. Love it.

Anonymous said...

please share how you plan on using this.. curriculum/resources. i homeschool and am very interested.

KimN said...

Your kids al seem to be on the fast track of learning...what curriculum do you normally use?

Carol said...

I second the motion that it would be so wonderful if Clara would chose to write a blog about what she is learning about the history of food. I'd read it! Carol (MD)

Anonymous said...

Great idea. I wanted to recommend "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel. It's a good resource for comparing food sources (and cost) around the world. It's excellent! The pictures are spectacular. Even if she doesn't "study" it, it's a great book to have around in general.

http://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Planet-What-World-Eats/dp/1580088694/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251074747&sr=8-1

Rie

Ways of Zion said...

Oh may I please pick your brain?

How is the one on the art of homemaking?

Please let me know asap if you can, I may order it NOW as I am doing a day on homemaking and history for an 8th grader this year for homeschooling

Hugs!

Anna said...

The Hidden Art of Homemaking is an excellent book--I've quoted from it here many times. It's not a history of homemaking at all though.

Rose said...

Hello Anna, you have really touched a response in all of us here, I do hope you are able to share about the course progress. I finished the last page of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" last night and heartily join in the recommendations here. It's unmissable for such a course, the same named Web site is useful and Kingsolver's two daughters (aged 9 and 17 then) were very critical to the process. Cheers, Rose

Anonymous said...

It looks like you have more recommendations for further reading than you can possibly use but I'll throw in another one nonetheless--
Taste : The Story of Britain through Its Cooking by Kate Colquhoun. Very interesting if you like Britain and food (which I do).

Emily said...

Hi! Another "amen" for AVM and one for Nourishing Traditions -- aren't you glad you asked for all of our opinions?! :) I also think that In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan's latest, is far more digestible (pun intended, of course) than Omnivore's Dilemma. And I loved Plenty, the story of the 100-mile Diet couple, though as I recall some of the language and themes may be a bit mature for a sophomore. (As are those of Fast Food Nation, but I'm sure you already know that.)

Well, I only wish I had taken this "class" in high school! Thank God for your involvement with the present world in which we live. Clara will thank you too (if she hasn't already.)

Talia said...

Looks like you might have a tons of recommendations...but "How to Pick a Peach" is a great one, too. By: Russ Parsons.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful recommendations. Another I am utterly enjoying is Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. Very good. I've also thoroughly enjoyed In Defense of Food and Animal Vegetable Miracle. Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mrs. Furious. I would most definitely consider The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky. It is a great book and it offers such a unique perspective on food history.

Jodes said...

lol Anna it sounds like you've got a captive audience on this topic! I have been looking up these books, and am very keen to get hold of them and take a look!

Stephanie said...

I would also like to know if there is an actual curriculum that goes along with this. We have read a number of these books and others, but I am not a good one for pulling things together as a 'curriculum'... would you share, Anna?

kath said...

The Omnivore's Dilemma is an amazing book, as is Michael Pollan's other book, In Defense of Food. Excellent choices!
Thank you to all of the other posters for recommending Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I plan on purchasing today!
I don't homeschool, but I really think this would be a great idea to work on with my high school age daughter also. I liked the recommendation that maybe you could share your lesson plans so we could all follow along (pretty please?). These are the types of practical things that I wish the schools would teach our children. I usually try to supplement their curriculum with interesting and practical subjects at home. Thanks for this idea!

Mrs. Farrah Ginter said...

I think this is an excellent idea, Anna! I hope she flourishes.

An Adventurer in the World said...

How exciting for Clara AND you!

Have you considered "Fruitless Fall" about the collapse of the honeybee and what it means for the modern food supply?

deb meyers

Anonymous said...

Sounds really exciting. I've only read "Hidden art" but the others also sound great.
I love Elizabeth David's classic "English bread and yeast cookery". This is a history of bread plus information about the ingredients, how modern mass produced bread is different and plenty of recipes-some old and some in vast quantities but many useable.
Sure Clara will have a great time this year.
Annaelisabeth

Carla said...

Brilliant. I want to join Clara's class! Thank you, Anna, and thank you all the commenters for suggesting other books for this course. I read "Salt" less than a year ago and was totally fascinated by it. I can't wait to dig into some of these other titles.

Anonymous said...

"How to Cook a Wolf" by the great M.F.K is a wonderful book about cooking and living during challenging times. It was written in the context of WWII, but still seems fresh.

A more challenging but worthwhile book is Sidney Mintz's "Sweetness and Power." It is an epic book about the rippling effects of plantation agriculture.

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I had the joy of hearing Catherine Levison ("A Charlotte Mason Education") speak while carrying our 3rd child. She read from a "living book" example which was "Voices of American Homemakers" (edited by Eleanor Arnold and supported by the homemakers extension service). I had to buy it once my bundle turned out to be a girl.

Desciption:
"...a book about women, family values, and making a life in rural America (1890 - 1940). It distills some 200 oral histories collected from 37 states organized around the essential rites and functions of life: growing up, education, courtship, marriage, child rearing, the homemaker and her work, the organizations that supported her, and her sense of self". It is broken down into sections, so the food sections would be easy to locate.

Also by University of Indiana press is "Girlhood Days" (memories of homemakers).

And I love this recent writing by Sally Clarkson on "I Take Joy":

'"What curriculum did you use to determine that your children would become academically excellent and score so well on their tests and get into such good colleges and get those scholarships? How did you give your children Biblical convictions so that they love the Lord and want to serve Him?"


First, let me say, it is all by God's grace. He resides in our home fully with life and truth and dominion. But, the way God worked through our days was through reading, reading, reading--discussing each and every night, morning, noon and afternoon. I determined that I would expose my children to the best and wisest authors and minds and stories that would build the foundation of their souls and that would give them truth (the Word) and that would inspire them to build a world view that provided for them to want to invest their lives in the history of this world for His kingdom. We read hundreds if not thousands of books. We discussed truth. We cherished wisdom and ideas and models throughout history....'
Mary Brooke softly homeschooling and mothering our 5...
mbaria@bellsouth.net

Cait* said...

Glad to see Omnivore's Dilemna! And what a great concept!

Prairie Chick said...

oh, this course looks positively DELIGHTFUL!!!

Smokering said...

As a bit of a food geek I loved http://www.foodtimeline.org/ as well. Really handy jumping-off point for researching various foodstuffs.

I recently read biographies of Alexis Soyer and Mrs Beeton; both very interesting! Food is such a fascinating topic; you should have great fun! Babette's Feast is a good watch if you want to add some movies to the mix.

Hopewell said...

Definitely the Animal Veg Miracle....what about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse or Julia Child My Life in France? Julie & Julia?? Fast Food Nation? Near a Thousand Tables? Sorry I'm a foodie and a librarian!

Anonymous said...

I too loved the Barbara Kingsolver book, although her worldview is very different than mine. Another book that I love is a book of essays by Wendell Berry titled What Are People For? Very good. And while I haven't read this one yet, The Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Capon (sp?) is supposed to be a classic on this.

Enjoy,

Angela W.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great idea! I once took a course called "the art, science, politics, and technology of food" (or something like that). It was an interdisciplinary honors class in college. It was incredibly interesting, since food touches nearly every aspect of our lives and the pursuit of food has shaped much of human history. Bravo!

Cheryl said...

Great list: very inspiring, both in terms of my own reading, as well as homeschooling.

Clarissa said...

I know that this is a little past when you posted this, but I just read The Omnivore's Delimna', very fascinating, but there were some very strong swear words. I just wanted to let you know. Thanks for all the great recomendations!

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