Eggs in the World of Food Choices
Students investigate geographic, economic, human, and cultural influences on food choices around the world and conduct research about the influences behind an international egg recipe.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
climate: the prevailing weather conditions in a specific area over a long period of time
Did You Know? (Ag Facts)
- Quiche Lorraine originated in Germany. It is a custard made with milk and eggs and baked in a pie crust.
- Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert made using egg whites.
- Eggs Drumkilbo is a dish that was a favorite of Britain's Queen Mother.
Background Agricultural Connections
Food plays an important role in our daily lives. Without it, we cannot survive or have the energy to live, work, or play. But food is more than just a survival tool. The foods we eat can tell a story about who we are, where we live, and what we believe.
Many factors influence our food choices, including history, geography, economics, and cultural traditions. In various parts of the world, food choices can depend on factors such as:
- Food availability/natural resources
- Religious/cultural beliefs
- Movement of people
The availability of food is a key factor in the diets of many places around the world. For example, many areas in Asia developed a cuisine that was centered on rice, because it grows well there. Tropical cultures developed family food patterns based around fruits and vegetables that grew in abundance. Here in the U.S., seafood is part of many dishes that hail from New England and Seattle, where fish are plentiful.
Climate is another influential factor in shaping dishes around the world. For example, Greek people use many fruits and vegetables and olive oil in their cooking. That is because Greece has a Mediterranean climate, meaning hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops like wheat, olives, nuts, grapes, fruits, and vegetables grow well in this type of climate. Most Indian dishes are spicy because “spicy” plants grow well in the hot and humid climate of India. In addition, eating spicy foods can actually make us feel cooler. Australia and New Zealand are famous for their delicious lamb. That is because sheep need lots of fresh grass for food. Grasses grow well in cooler areas that have plenty of rainfall throughout the year.
Religious and cultural beliefs also influence food choices. Foods that are common for one country or culture may not be acceptable in other areas. The Japanese, for example, prefer eating their fish raw, while the English prefer it in a "fish ’n’ chips" combination. Some religions have laws stating which food can be eaten at which times of the year or foods that are forbidden to be eaten altogether. For example, different segments of the Jewish community observe the kosher practice of avoiding pork and many types of seafood. Some Europeans do not eat ears of corn, because they consider it food for hogs and other animals. In the United States, we don’t normally eat insects, but many other cultures regard them as preferred foods. Culture can also dictate the times to eat and what to eat at certain meals.
The movement of people can also influence dietary choices. Places with large immigrant populations often see evidence of the home country/culture in local cuisine, restaurants, and the food available in local supermarkets.
Finally, economics can play a factor in food choices. For example, those who live in developing nations might not choose dishes that use expensive ingredients.
Answers to Where in the World
- Huevos Rancheros- Mexico
- Soufflé’- France
- Quiche Lorraine- Germany
- Frittata- Spain
- Egg Drop Soup- China
- Tamagoyaki- Japan
- Matzo Brei- Israel
- M’hanncha- Morocco
- Vasilopita- Greece
- Coconut Bread- Jamaica
- Pan Potatoes with egg- India
- Eggs Drumkilbo- Britain
- Spaghetti Frittata- Italy
- KooKoo- Iran
- Pavlova- Australia
Interest Approach - Engagement
- Divide the students into two groups. Randomly distribute the food cards from the Where in the World? printout to one group, and distribute the country cards to the other group.
- Explain that the food cards represent different recipes made with eggs and the country cards represent the countries where those dishes originate. The students’ task is to try to find the person/card from the opposite group that matches their card. If they have a food card, they must find their food’s country of origin. If they have a country card, they must find the food from their country.
- Give the students five minutes to try to find their partners. If the students are having trouble, they can research online to find their food’s origin.
- When all students have found a partner, review the answers (found in Background Agricultural Connections section) to determine if the matches are correct. Then, ask the students what strategies they used to find their partners. Ask them what they know about the ingredients or preparation methods of the egg dishes on the cards. What story can these foods tell us about the countries from which they originate?
- Write the following questions on the board: What factors determine the recipes/dishes that originate in a particular country? Guide students to think about geographic, economic, cultural, and human factors. Ask each pair to list as many answers as they can.
- List answers on the board or a flip chart. Possible answers include:
- Geographic- natural resources, food availability, climate
- Economic- ingredients people can afford, trade, need for preservation
- Human- passed down from a previous generation, likes vs. dislikes, movement
- Cultural- religious traditions or restrictions, ethnic traditions and customs
- Have the students brainstorm examples for each factor. See examples from the background information to help spur thinking.
Explore: (45-60 minutes)
- Distribute the Country Research Log activity sheet.
- Ask partners from the Interest Approach to select a country and research its climate, location, natural resources, crops, and cultural/religious traditions. Encourage the students to cover a wide range of continents and cultures with their choices. They should record their research on the Country Research Log.
- Ask the students to imagine that an international restaurant is opening in their town. They must select a dish that will represent the country they have researched as part of the menu. Allow the students to look through international cookbooks, or they can look online to find a recipe/dish that is native to the country they have researched.
- Once the students find a recipe, direct them to list the ingredients and describe the dish and cooking methods on their Country Research Log.
Explain: (15-25 minutes)
- Challenge each student pair to analyze the research they have collected and the recipe they have selected to identify possible reasons why their dish is native to their country of choice. Have them list their reasons, evidence, and sources on their Country Research Log.
Elaborate: (30-45 minutes, possible time outside of class to research food costs)
- Explain that the next part of their task is to figure out how much the restaurant should charge customers for their dish. In order to do this, challenge each pair to do the following:
- Predict how much it would cost in American dollars to prepare their dish for one person.
- Choose one supermarket to use as a source. Then, research the cost of each ingredient on their list by using the supermarket’s online site or visiting the store.
- Determine how much it would cost to use that ingredient to prepare the dish for one person.
- Since most recipes are written with multiple servings in mind, they must first determine how much of each ingredient will be used for one serving. For example, if the recipe calls for two cups of milk and it makes four servings, they will need to identify the cost of two cups of milk and then divide by four.
- Once they have determined how much the dish will cost to make, they must determine how much the restaurant should charge for it. For this scenario, ask students to imagine that the food cost is 30% of what the restaurant will actually charge. You may want to talk with students about why restaurants must charge more then they pay for food. For example, restaurant owners must pay rent, salaries, cost of furniture and other supplies, advertising, and printing and make a profit.
- Give each pair a calculator and ample time to do their calculations.
Evaluate: (30 minutes)
- Challenge the students to create and illustrate a one-page menu entry that features their dish and includes its ingredients; its cooking methods; its geographic, cultural, or economic influences; its cost; and why it is a good dish to represent their country at the international restaurant. Encourage the students to use descriptive words that will make diners want to order the dish.
- Review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Eggs for eating are most commonly produced by chickens.
- Common or traditional foods are often determined by family tradition, religious or cultural influence, economic availability, and geographic availability of foods.
- Eggs are part of many traditional food dishes throughout the world.
Visit the American Egg Board Elementary Lesson Plan page and use the activity worksheets reinforcing skills in reading, math, and writing.
Have students find examples of worldwide cuisine that is influenced by the following factors. Assign each student or small group of students one of the four factors listed below:
- Geographic: Cuisine common to an area due to natural resources, food availability, or climate.
- Economic: Cuisine influenced by the presence of ingredients people can afford, trade, or preserve for relatively longer periods of time.
- Human: Cuisine common to an area by cultural tradition that was passed down from a previous generation.
- Cultural: Cuisine common to an area due to prevalent religious traditions or restrictions, ethnic traditions and customs.
On behalf of U.S. Egg farmers, the American Egg Board promotes the Incredible Edible Egg™ and is funded from a national legislative check-off. Visit IncredibleEgg.org for more information.