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Got Nutrients? Dietary Comparison of Medieval European and 21st-century American Food Pyramids

Produced by Gabriel G. Alvarez, Mark Twain Middle School, 2009.

Dietary Comparison of Medieval Europe and 21st Century
in Relation to the Food Pyramid and the Six Nutrients of Life

Introduction: The students will take an inventory of their lives by keeping track of their daily food intake for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between for three days. They will also ask an adult to do the same survey for three days so that they can compare both surveys with the dietary intake of people of medieval Europe. The students will compare their results with what the food pyramid says they should eat and the six nutrients of life, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and water in order to see who is healthier Medieval Europeans or us today? This lesson should take about a week’s span to survey their food intake, research the diet of Medieval Europe, and time to write up their results and conclusions.

Related History and Science/Health standards:
7th grade history standard that will encompass this lesson will be:
• 7.6.1- geography of Europe and Eurasia including vegetation and climate and the relationship to life.

7th grade Science Standard: (Investigation and Experimentation)
• 7.b. Use a variety of print and electronic resources (including the World Wide Web) to collect information and evidence as part of a research project
• 7c. Communicate the logical connection among hypotheses, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected, and conclusions drawn from the scientific evidence.
• 7e. Communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and oral presentations.

7th grade Health guidelines:
• 5.1.N Use a decision-making process to evaluate daily food intake for nutritional requirements.
• 1.2.N Identify nutrients and their relationships to health.

• Report writing handout
• Food log or survey form x 2
• Computer lab – medieval research (websites)
• Medieval dietary handouts (see attached)
• Blank Food Pyramid (labeled) x 3
• Blank Food Pyramid (unlabeled)
• Venn diagram
• Six nutrients lecture notes
• Food Pyramid for display (see and handout)

Prior to the students getting to compare their diets to that of the people of medieval Europe the student are frontloaded in understanding the six essential nutrients of life, water, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, & carbohydrates. Also understanding the vocabulary terms they will use with the food pyramid information and what is required on a daily bases to ingest as guided by the food pyramid. Students must also be able to understand serving sizes like what the food pyramid is specifying. Once having that information in the students toolbox they will be prepared to extend the understanding of food through the analysis of what they eat and what people from the past to see who is healthier.
To do: copy all appropriate handouts before the lesson:
• Report writing handout
• Food log or survey form x 2 per student
• Medieval dietary handouts (see attached) per group
• Blank Food Pyramid s
• Venn Diagrams


Day # 1
• In the 1st day the best way to start this small unit is to put the students into small groups of about 3-4 in order to do a brainstorming session as to what food is needed to stay alive and why?
• After they try to figure out what is needed to stay alive they can be given a group copy of a blank food pyramid (unlabeled) to have them fill out with what they came up with previously. Students need use their prior knowledge to fill out the handout and really analyze what they think they should be eating before being told.
• As a group we share out what they came up with before going over the food pyramid and lecture notes on the six essential nutrients. In going over the food pyramid make sure the students understand proportion sizes, this will be important for the homework assignment food log survey.
• Lecture notes for six essential nutrients (see attached) and any food pyramid to go over. Visuals and hands on examples for EL students
• Explain to the students the Hw in which they write down for three days the food they are eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks along with the amounts or proportion sizes. The students will need to give the sheet for an adult in their lives to keep track for three days as well.

Day # 2
• Lecture notes are finished in class or can be printed and given to students.
• Go over day one of the food log survey to make sure they are filling it out correctly.
• Begin going to the computer lab to look up information on the diets of Medieval Europeans or handout can be given to the groups of 3-4 if no computers are available. The students will be given a blank food pyramid (labeled) to keep track of the food being eaten by the common people of medieval Europe to keep for their records and writing assignment. The EL & special ED students can also draw the pictures of some of the foods to help them remember the items. Once the pyramid is filled out, they can see what categories are missing and can try to figure out why those items are missing and where they could get those things through trade. STUDENT Homework or discussion questions—Why did the people of Medieval Europe have those categories missing as part of their diet? Was it due to geography, religion, achievements (lack of), politics, economics, or social structures (G.R.A.P.E.S.)?

Day # 3
• Second day of research of the medieval diet followed by a class discussion of the common findings.
• One thing you can do is having poster around the room with the food pyramid and giving post it™ notes so they can place the six essential nutrients of the correct posters along with the food items they found from the research they did. The EL & special ED students can also draw the pictures of some of the foods to help them remember the items.
• A gallery walk can be done with the students to see if the students agree with the placements of the items or they can leave a comments next to the post it™.
• Once the students complete the gallery walk and discussion can be done over the disagreements on the placement of some of the items.

Day # 4

• By day four the students should have the food log survey completed so they can also complete the blank food pyramid (labeled) from their data and the adult that they will analyze. STUDENT discussion questions, why did you and the adult you surveyed have those categories missing as part of their diet? Was it due to geography, religion, achievements (lack of), politics, economics, or social structures (G.R.A.P.E.S.)?
• Once the students have had time to analyze both their own and the adult’s surveys, they can make a Venn Diagram (fig. 1) comparing both surveys to that of Medieval Europe.
• The Report writing handout and rubric can now be given, explained so they know how the write-up should be done and so they know how they will be graded.

Day # 5
• Class time can be given to start their rough drafts and to ask question of their group and to the teacher.
• What will be collected as part of the report:
o Lab write-up (typed or hand written)
- Both food log surveys (raw data)
• Discussion questions
   - Food pyramids for their survey and adult
   - Food pyramids for Medieval Europeans
   - Venn Diagram comparison
o Rubric
• Before collecting the reports you have the students self score their work or trade with another student to score it before you.


Download File: Got_Nutrients_Attachments.docm

Center for European and Eurasian Studies