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What Is Food For?


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It seems to me that there is a question to be asked as to whether it is appropriate to use foods as play materials when foodstuffs are a precious resource. There are unnacceptably high numbers of children and families living in poverty. We need to think carefully about the messages we convey to children about what food is for. Children will touch and learn about the qualities of the food they eat during mealtimes and cooking activities. The concern I wish to raise is the use of food materials purely for the purpose of play or learning activities, thus rendering the food inedible. If we don't tackle this issue by using food for its intended purpose then we expose ourselves to potential criticism. I have no doubt this will question exsiting practice and produce a lively debate!

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Hi sjs1955

I pondered this question during a recent heuristic play session I attended. They were using pasta and rice. I did mention this to the group leader and was told that they only use out of date food for play. An acceptable compromise maybe? Wonder what others think.

 

Sally

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This has been discussed before sjs1955.

Most people are aware of the issues surrounding using food as a resource and try always to use foodstuff that has gone past its best before date.

It is an issue that may become an increasingly debated topic if the news articles regarding world food shortages are to be believed.

I have always allowed its use without thinking about it, but acknowledge that alternatives can be used.

I supose we would then have to look at the ingredients used in other materials and whether their use isnt impacting on the planet.

Do we use compost that is peat free? Is the paint we use made using the barest energy, chemicals, and resources. Do we provide equipment that is made from sustainable materials and recycleable?

A difficult issue to think about, but one we shouldnt avoid.

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hi sjs1955, as rea said, this does crop up in conversations from time to time. (although I couldn't find where). Personally I don't use foodstuffs for play (althouhg I have made exceptions for playdough) for the reasons you say. I spent a few years living in Afrika where many people I lived with would be appalled at the way in which we use (waste?) food stuff for play, but would be equally astonished at how much water we use. How often we do we stop to think for example, filling the paddling pool, the water tray, using hoses etc uses an awful lot of water, a very scarce resource in many parts of the world. And that's without considering how much water we use to clean up after a lovely messy gloop or shaving foam session.

 

It does raise a very interesting point though. How ethical are our settings and how sustainable our resources?

I will be interested to follow this thread..thanks for starting it

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Hi

Within our setting we are in a area classed as disadvantaged and as such we also use a sensible approach by using food out of date. My question is where does this debate stop there are children in Africa going without fresh clean water as well as food, and as is known people can survive longer without food than they can water so surely if we are looking at ethics of resources does this then mean we do not waste water on water trays and water play?. There are issues with our natural resources and the rainforests do all settings use recycled paper?? Our landfills are becoming an isssue do we only accept traditional nappies as it takes so long for a disposable nappy to break down. As you can see the debate on ethics can be addressed to a wide range of areas where do we start and where do we finish???

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Hi,

 

This one is always an interesting debate - as Mundia says it is visited every so often. I personally don't have a problem with using food stuff - what I buy and use at playgroup is not destined for the plate of a hungry person if I don't use it. I try to do my bit where I can - supporting charities through donations, sponsership, actual physical help, lobbying government etc. We could actually save more money which can be used to support these people you are concerned about, if we all address the issue of how much we waste in very general terms - the things we merrily discard, the energy we waste, the expensive items we buy that have little use etc.

 

Unfortunately poverty is not alleviated through providing more food - if only it were that simple! There is actually more than enough food around to feed everyone comfortably but the problems of poverty are much more political and not easily addressed.

 

I'll move this somewhere more suitable too. :o

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