Eyeing the food aisle: Supermarket field trip teaches Brandeis Hillel students valuable lessons
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When seventh-graders from Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco went on a recent field trip to two local supermarkets, the object wasn’t to buy Joe’s O’s or to choose between Safeway Select frozen peas and a national brand.
The field trip to Trader Joe’s and Safeway was designed for the students to help gather data for Hazon’s Sustainable Buying Guide project — and to learn some valuable lessons in the process.
Working in small teams, the students examined labels and packaging to collect information about meat, dairy, dry goods, and fruits and vegetables.
“I learned to look more closely at the package than first glance,” added fellow student Laura Berkovsky. “Even if the label says ‘natural,’ it doesn’t mean it’s better. You have to look for proof that it’s organic.”
At Trader Joe’s, the students learned from Adam Kotin, Hazon’s program associate, that it’s hard to tell if a product is local when many labels simply read, “Monrovia, CA,” which is the location of the chain’s packaging plant.
Four days before the Jan. 18 field trip, the students learned in the classroom about the conflicts that arise when price-conscious consumers shop with sustainable Jewish values in mind. Deborah Newbrun, Hazon’s West Coast director, and Alli Rosen, Hazon’s food justice fellow, also taught lessons about Torah and food, harvesting and farming.
After the field trip, Emma Tick-Raker remarked: “I learned that labels don’t tell you very much. We wanted to know how and where the animal was fed and raised and there was no way to find out in the stores.”
Added Adam Teich: “I learned it’s really expensive to eat sustainably. [I’m now] aware of how much more it costs to choose organic and fair trade, but I still think it’s worth it.”
Said Newbrun: “It was an awesome field trip, with great learning and student engagement.”
Hazon, which has an office in San Francisco, seeks to expand awareness of sustainable food systems and how to direct purchasing power to products that best represent Jewish values. For more information, visit http://www.hazon.org. — j. staff
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