Green Field Trips And MoreMon 06 Feb 2012
Story by Penny Dietz
Field trips are a great way to provide students with “real world” experiences that allow them to apply concepts learned in class. At Cotswold Elementary in Charlotte, NC, we are taking the concept of field trips one step further by greening them or at least one of them. That’s right, students are getting the privilege of walking approximately one mile to Chipotle Mexican Grill, where they learn firsthand about happy farms, “food with integrity” and what that means for their health and that of our environment.
For the third graders who have been recently studying the body, the food pyramid and making good food choices, the timing of this trip could not be more perfect. While at Chipotle Mexican Grill, they learned about the color of real cheese, which is not orange but white, as well as the natural habitats of free roaming animals as compared to many of the mass produced caged animals. Of course, the free roaming animals were noted as living on “happy farms”. Also discussed was the use of fresh ingredients in making a meal. So, instead of reaching for a can or box of pre-made and highly processed food – such as guacamole for example, gather ingredients – ex: fresh cilantro, avocados, garlic, etc… to make guacamole from “scratch”. In return, you get a higher nutritional value and a better understanding of what makes up your food.
“Food with integrity” is how Chipotle describes their “commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers”. As such, whenever possible, they use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. Similarly, they use dairy from cows not raised using synthetic hormones. The point being – know your food source and how it is raised because it does have an impact on you – most notably on your health.
From the second we left the school to begin our green field trip, the students got firsthand insights as to what sustainable transportation looks and feels like. Since walking everywhere is not always feasible, we talked about taking buses as well. Sustainably was further emphasized at the restaurant, where they shared that “local produce” is grown on farms within 350 miles of their restaurants. After all, the smaller the carbon footprint we made the better for us and everyone around us!
So what are the student’s saying about their experience? One said, “I never knew organic stuff could be so good. I can’t believe what people do to poor cows (put them in cages).” While another commented “You helped us understand to eat more freshly raised animals. We learned that most farms have animals in cages that they don’t have room to move. So I think all farms should have animals running free.”
After an interactive question and answer session with the Chipotle employees, the students enjoyed a healthy meal compliments of Chipotle. By the end of the school year, all of our Cotswold elementary students will have had an opportunity to participate in this green and healthy field trip, which is just another way of complimenting what they’re learning and planting seeds for the health of our future.
To check out another food adventure featuring local and sustainable practices check out this article on acknowledging the benefits of having dinner as a community.
About the author: Penny Dietz is a Charlotte based Mom-preneur and founder of green i am, which focuses on the benefits of living well while living responsibly. To learn more visit green i am's website.
Images: taken by Ashley Sellner
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