Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Teaching Tech: Food Fat

by Nicole Ouellette

If you are a like the average American (or perhaps you consider yourself above average?), you probably consume a lot of fat in your diet. Saturated and unsaturated, it is so deliciously disguised in that Oreo cookie or that piece of cake left lingering in the teacher's room.

As of December, I've been trying to lose weight. The good news is I've lost ten pounds. The bad news is, while I'd like to lose ten more, I've stagnated (or stagflated?) recently. The old me would have been seduced by a moderately crusty piece of cake of questionable origin left in the teacher's room. I can't say I'm not still tempted sometimes (cube culture has its own pitfalls).

Of course, we can also say that we are not the only ones led unto temptation: a lot of students eat terribly. There have been bans on cupcakes and fruit eating contests. Five a day and use sparingly. We can drive home the point that fruit is good and it's easy to see why fruit is good...but why is cake bad? And therein lies an interesting experiment.

Try this hands on: get some acetone from your local hardware store. It's cheap, readily available, and fat dissolves in it. You can make up a pretty ridiculous experiment where you test all kinds of foods for fat content (more technological if you have a scale, less so with eyeing the fat volume in uniform dishes). Just crush up the food you are testing, swirl in some acetone, decant the solution in a seperate container from the food particles, and let it evaporate (probably under a hood if you have one). The next day (or the day after, depending how much liquid you used), you should have some solid fats and some liquid fats (also called saturated and unsaturated) left by some of your (and your students') favorite foods.

I did this with an Oreo. Seeing that the whole thing was pure lard made me never want to eat them again. Not sure if the kids felt the same (high school students can look at you in a way that anything can feel lame) but it was interesting. The question is, do you really want to know? If it were me, I'd eat one last Oreo and savor every fatty bite...

Here's the link that inspired this life lesson:

Nicole will post "Teaching Tech" (formerly Tech Tuesday) about internet resources for your classroom whenever she thinks of it, which is incidentally never on a Tuesday. She doesn't teach anymore but works at a newspaper and maintains her own personal finance blog:

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