October Harvest Of The Month Tasting Parties: Pears
October 09th, 2018
Every month, Vista Unified teachers have access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for classroom taste tests. This fun activity, part of our Farm To School program, features a Harvest Of The Month based on what’s currently in season from local farms. This month, the harvest was pears!
Mrs. Arvidson’s 3rd grade class at Empresa Elementary and Ms. Sapau’s 3rd grade class at VAPA were two such classrooms to participate in a pear taste test. Harvest Of The Month taste tests also include an interactive lesson about pears and activities using all five senses. After these, Mrs. Arvidson and Ms. Sapau sliced up a couple of pears each. The classes had two different types of pears to try (there are many pear varieties grown here and around the world): red crimson and Asian pears. The red crimson pears came from Finley, in Northern California, while the Asian pears came from Del Shebelut Farms in Madera, in the Central Valley.
Students then get to weigh in on what they think of the produce. First, do they like pears? If yes, do they like both varieties, or just one? Then they describe what it is they like or don’t like about pears using tasting vocabulary. Maybe the pears are soft and buttery, or crisp and crunchy. One type of pear might be tart and citrusy while the other is more like an apple. Each student will have a different opinion about each type of pear, which they share.
In-class taste tests of locally grown produce has a number of benefits for students. First, they’re introduced to a new food, or reintroduced to a food they were already familiar with. It gives them a safe space to try something or even change their minds about a fruit or vegetable. Then, they’re more likely to choose that fruit or vegetable when they see it on the salad bar at lunch or in the grocery store. Second, students learn about the economy and ecology of the county and state. They learn about farming and that their own backyards (metaphorically, anyway) are full of agricultural opportunity. Third, students use all five senses and a variety of tools in taste tests, expanding their language, math, science, history, and technology skills. Not to mention, it’s a fun way to learn!
Vista Unified students are lucky to live in a county, region, and state that has a lot of farms. In fact, San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the country! And California produces half of all the produce for the nation – far more than any other state contributes. So it’s no wonder that our students have so much fresh, local fruits and vegetables every day. In addition to the red crimson and Asian pears, students and staff will find Bosc and Bartlett pears at WaveCrest Cafe this month.