The Languages of Food

“In Reggio Emila, the choice of having a kitchen in each of the infant-toddler and preschools has always conveyed a strong meaning, both pedagogical and cultural. The kitchen is a place for listening to the families and their habits, as well as for orientation toward the community, where lunchtime becomes a space and context of relationships and encounters with the world.”The Languages of Food

The staff is currently reading “The Languages of Food,” a book published by The Reggio Children, and it has made us look at food and learning in a different way. To put it simply, it has opened our eyes to the possibility of what food can be for the children at our school.

Rather than making a recipe every week, we are looking at the opportunity to learn more about food in its whole form.  For example, how many children have the opportunity to see and handle a pineapple in its whole form and contribute to the process of cutting and preparing it to eat? The children learn what parts we can eat, what parts w throw away, what we can use to grow more food, and what the different parts feel, smell, taste, and look like. This opens up for a wonderful sensory experience, allows the children to make sense of the world by experience, not by memorizing or being taught, and opens the door for children to understand food, where it comes from, and be willing to taste many things.

We’ve been on a journey of exploration these past two weeks. Thanks to the parent’s contributions, we have been able present a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for the children to explore. Some of the fruit and vegetables were already cut and some were whole, allowing the children to experience the different ways fruits and vegetables can be presented. We were able to observe the different colors, sizes, shapes, textures, and tastes of different fruits and vegetables.

The pictures below demonstrate how the children were able to touch, see, examine, and taste the food:

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“The Languages of Food” focuses on how the Reggio Emilia approach has caused school kitchens to become a symbolic, functional, and celebrated statement of diversity. It may sound strange to encourage your children to literally play with their food, but feeling, touching, cutting, tasting, preparing, and dealing with these various foods grows their understanding and acceptance of them. This will lead to greater acceptance of “new” foods and improved fine motor skills. Allowing children to explore things that they will come in contact with for the rest of their lives introduces a sense of harmony and connection between the classroom, learning, and the natural world. We have to respect children, their capacities and their curiosity in order for us to let them freely explore and make sense of the world the way they see it.

“With each institution that declares food as valuable to its community, new opportunities emerge to extend the dialogue to more spaces – to farms, training schools, cultural institutes, museums, restaurants – and to the architects and scholars of places on the national and international level.”Ilaria Cavallini

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One Response to The Languages of Food

  1. Julee Bailey says:

    Is this quote from Ilaria Cavallini from the Languages of Food book? It’s a great quote and I wanted to know more.

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