AFRICA

EATING WHAT WE PRODUCE!

 

Author: Tarrah Montgomery

Grade Level: Early Elementary

Background: Africa is one of the seven continents in the world. Africa is made up of many countries, each one having it's own style, culture, religion, and food. This lesson focuses on one specific food commonly grown and native to Africa which is okra. This lesson will also teach how people's food preferences reflect agricultural resources. Okra is a plant grown in Africa which produces edible fruit that can be used to make many things like "okra soup" or fried okra. Okra seed requires warm soils to germinate and is widely grown in tropical areas. See http://www.wam.umd.edu/~mathewsc/Gumbo.html for growing methods, harvesting, common uses, scientific name, alternative names, and duration of okra grown in Africa.

Objectives:

1. The students will be able to explain that many people in Africa eat okra because it is an abundant agricultural resource and a native food to them.

2. The students will be able to identify okra as a food commonly eaten in Africa.

Materials Needed:

1. Sample of okra (available at grocery stores)

2. Items necessary to make fried okra with the students: Recipe calls for a knife to cut okra, water or milk to dampen the slices of okra, cornmeal to roll the okra in, oil for frying, and an electric skillet.

Procedures:

1. Introduce the unit by showing the students a sample of okra and asking them if they have ever seen or tasted it. Explain to them that this plant is commonly grown in Africa and it is called okra. This plant produces pods that is a fruit many people in Africa eat. The plant can grow up to 12 feet tall. There are different varieties of okra and the particular kind of okra planted is usually a reflection of growing conditions and/or local preferences for okra as a food.

2. Discuss different ways people use okra for food: pods can be sliced and used to make "okra soup", tougher pods can be ground up in a powder to make soup thick, dried pods can be also used in soups, and okra can be cut up and rolled in cornmeal to be fried.

3. Ask the students if they have ever seen an okra farm in the United States of America. Ask them why okra grows more abundantly in Africa than in the U.S. (this is because okra grows best in warm temperatures). Ask the students why people in Africa eat okra more than we do. Okra is native to Africa. It was brought to the U.S. by Africans and is served often in the southern U.S. states. The students should come to the conclusion that people in Africa eat okra because it is something that is grown around them. Then, discuss with the students how people's food preferences reflect their agricultural resources.

4. Ask the students (to enforce objectives and understanding of the content): What is this plant called? (Okra) Where is it commonly grown? (Africa) Why do people in Africa eat okra more than we do in the U.S.? (Okra is commonly grown in Africa.) Do you think people eat more of something if it is all around them? (We eat what we produce.)

5. Make fired okra with the students. The first step is to slice the okra into circles like cutting a carrot, dampen the slices with water or milk, roll the slices in cornmeal, and fry the slices with oil in an electric skillet. They are done when they are brown and tender when inserted with a fork. Fried okra is not as good cold, so it is more effective frying the okra on the spot. An alternative is to have most of the okra cut, dampened, and rolled in cornmeal before coming to class. Then, the only step left to do with the students is to prepare a small amount for demonstration purposes and to fry enough for all to taste.

Evaluation:

1. The students will explain that many people in Africa eat okra because it is an abundant agricultural resource and a native food to them.

2. The students will be able to identify okra as a food commonly eaten in Africa.

References:

http://www.wam.umd.edu/~mathewsc/Gumbo.html

http://lausd.k12.ca.us/~mvendt/food.htm

 

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