A. Ozzie Abaye1, Kang Xia2, Bo Zhang2 and Gregory E. Welbaum2, (1)330 Smyth Hall (0404), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (2)Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
In 2010, we added a food lab to the traditionally lecture-based World Crops and Cropping Systems course at Virginia Tech. The overall objective of the food lab was to connect the art and science of crop production to consumption – “field to fork”. However, the outcome of student food lab experiences was far greater than simply connecting crop production with food consumption. A summary of some often-heard comments from the 60+ student course evaluations included: “I learned that on a daily basis I eat a lot of crops I didn’t realize I was eating. I got to see crops I have heard of but didn’t know what they look like. I also learned how the rest of the world eats”. To the student evaluation question “Did your view change how you see food that is not “familiar” to you? If yes, in what way”? The students answered: “I tried everything and mostly enjoyed the unfamiliar foods. It was a great learning experience”; “My view changed a little. I did try some different things that I now really do like but in general I’m still not a big fan of unfamiliar foods”; “Yes, by cooking the food ourselves and knowing how and what went into each recipe I was more willing to eat it, at least try it. Now I will try foods that before looked unappealing. The food lab not only provided platform for the students to connect food production with consumption but also resulted in students gaining an appreciation of the entire food chain from production to food preparation, and the culture of food in general which dictates food choices and acceptance. The inclusion of food lab was a delicious way to link production and consumption while teaching students the importance of food in other cultures.