Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Will it rot, or not?

With both M and R getting older (21 and 17) a lot of our homeschool is working on life skills. We still work on our math curriculum, it's something that's so important and I worry they would forget too much if we didn't need up with it... but most everything else is hand's on learning. We work on things like following simple recipes, riding the bus, money management, job skills,  etc.

The past couple of weeks we've been following a rabbit trail that started with nutrition (focusing on the problems with too much fast food and "junk" food) and has branched off into things like advertising, product placement, and food styling.

Both kids were amazed that product placement in a movie didn't mean the actors were really consumers of that product... only that the product's manufacturer paid (sometimes BIG bucks!) for their product to be seen in that movie.

We found some awesome videos on YouTube of the food styling process, and how the food that looks so good in the pictures might not even be edible!

We've talked a fair amount on some of the hidden aspects of advertising... watching commercials, for example, and talking about the unspoken messages they are trying to give us (you will be happy, or sexy, and skinny if you wear these clothes, or eat our food, you will feel peaceful, or confident, and happy if you drink this soft drink, etc). As we were picking apart fast food commercials, I told the kids about the movie "Super Size Me" and they both wanted to see it. It took a little doing to find it (it's getting older, and not as easily available) but I did and we watched it. Lots of good discussion followed as well as deciding to replicate an experiment others have done looking at how fast food breaks down compared to less processed food. Specifically we wanted to see for our own eyes that you can leave a basic burger and fries sitting on the counter and they won't rot...

The kids decided to take it one step further and compare and contrast what happens to a basic Burger King meal with a basic McDonald's meal.

So we drove down  to town and bought a hamburger and fries from both McD's and BK. First we compared them (noticing the unappetizing color of the McD burger compared to BK's...



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...then we set them on the counter and waited to see what would happen.



Here's the McD's meal on day 1, brand new and fresh:



And the BK meal on Day 1:



This food has been sitting out on my counter for 4 days now and so far all that's happened is the food has shrunk...

No stink, no mold (despite no refrigeration)... they haven't even attracted the tiny gnats that seem to show up any time the fruit gets a little old... The only change has been a slightly smaller sandwich and fries.

Here's McD's on day 4:



And here's BK on day 4:



We're going to keep up our experiment for a month or until I can't stand it on the counter any more. ;)

It's been so cool to see R's reactions to what we've been talking about.... It's like she's feeling in on a secret, and while she watches commercials or sees ads, she loves to try to identify the unspoken messages in the ad, or point out the "styled" food. It's given her a different mind set...  M on the other hand has been interested... but he really doesn't care that much... he'd still be thrilled with lunch at the golden arches!

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