Kids can be detectives and protect their families from unsafe food in their kitchen by checking the expiration dates on the perishables in the refrigerator and the pantry. Kids can read the labels on the cans and boxes in the pantry to find preservatives, additives, and other artificial ingredients manufactures have added to food products to change the food’s shelf life, color, appearance, and taste. Kids can discover if the food crops were sprayed with pesticides and herbicides by looking for the organic label on the produce. Another clue kids can look for is the temperature of the refrigerator, which should be between 35 and 38 degrees, to keep food from spoiling too fast. Kids can read the list of ingredients at fast food places, which serve highly processed foods filled with added fats, sugar, salt, chemicals, flavorings, and dyes.
Because of these additives to our food, too many kids today have developed serious diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and asthma. There are several healthy methods that ancient peoples developed to preserve their food that kids can use today. Kids can dry food in the sun, dehydrating it and removing the moisture that allows microorganisms to grow. Kids can pickle food in vinegar, soak fruit in honey, and use salt and other spices to slow food decay. Kids can use yeasts (living microorganisms naturally occurring on the skins of fruit and the surface of grains) to leaven bread and make sourdough bread using fermentation, a chemical reaction releasing of carbon dioxide that is used to make food last, as in sauerkraut or yogurt. By growing an organic garden and preserving what they grow, kids can make a huge difference in the health of their family and their environment.