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3.6: Whole Food Evolution

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    National Health Education Standards (NHES)

    • 2.12.2 Analyze how the culture supports and challenges health beliefs, practices, and behaviors such as the evolution of food consumption.
    • 2.12.7 Analyze how the perceptions of norms influence healthy and unhealthy behaviors of food consumption.
    • 8.12.2 Demonstrate how to influence and support others to make positive health choices by choosing whole foods.

    Wellness Guidelines

    • Increase fruit and vegetable consumption
    • Decrease fast food consumption
    • Decrease negative perception of challenges


    • Instruction: In a group or think pair share format, have participants discuss the following questions. Acknowledge those who have progressed toward their goal(s) and encourage anyone who wants to change or modify their goal to get 1:1 support.
    • Share: Let’s discuss our SMART Goals.
      • How is it going with your current SMART goal?
      • What are some ways you can improve progress toward your goal? (Grows)
      • What are some ways you are doing well with progress towards your goal? (Glows)

    GUIDELINE: Decrease fast food consumption

    • Share: What guideline do you think is related to today’s lesson? Who has a SMART Goal related to this guideline?
    • Instruction: Select one activity.
    1. Guideline Popcorn: The group lists all 8 guidelines rapidly in popcorn format.
    2. Guideline Charades: Divide participants into groups and assign each a guideline. Each group has to silently act out the guideline for the rest to guess.
    3. Two Truths and One Lie:
      • Truth 1: A 30 oz. sweet tea has much sugar in it as two candy bars.
      • Truth 2: A large order of fries is one of the unhealthiest snacks. They have nearly 1,500 calories and 71 grams of fat.
      • Lie: Processed foods are healthy for you.
    4. Questions to discuss and/or journal:
      • How often do you eat fast/junk food? What do you usually eat? Where?
      • Why do people eat junk food and fast food on a consistent basis?
      • What are choices you can make to eat healthier options at fast food restaurants?
      • What could you eat instead of junk food for a snack?


    • How our eating pattern has changed over the years and what is processed foods.


    • Worksheet
    • Slide presentation
    • Food/drink items or photos: canned corn, potato chips, bottled orange juice, beef jerky, trail mix (with nuts only) and ketchup


    [As defined by ChooseMyPlate, 2016; Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary, n.d.; Francescutti, 2010; Gearing, n.d.]

    • Eating Pattern: the combination of foods and beverages that make up an individual’s complete dietary intake over time.
    • Whole Foods: food that has only one (1) ingredient.
    • Natural Foods: foods without any processing or added chemicals.
    • Processed Food: food that has been altered from their original state for safety reasons and for convenience.
    • Added Sugar: Caloric sweeteners that are added to foods during processing, preparation, or consumed separately.
    • Sedentary: characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise; inactive.
    • Evolution: the process of slow change and development.
    • Consequence: something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions.
    • Cause: something or someone that makes something happen or exist.
    • Effect: a change that results when something is done or happen.


    • Do Now
    • Prehistoric vs. Modern
    • Over the Years
    • Processed Food Stations
    • Exit Ticket


    Do Now:

    • Instruction:
      • Have participants answer the following questions on their worksheet or by sharing out loud.
        • What are some foods that you and people that you know regularly eat?
        • Why do you think you eat those foods?
          • Examples may include The taste and the price of the foods. The availability such as close to home or easy access after work. The way the food appears—appealing.

    Good to Know: Prehistoric vs. Modern

    • Share:
      • Since the time of Prehistoric people, humans have changed their eating pattern in many ways.
      • Eating pattern is the combination of foods and beverages that make up an individual’s complete dietary intake over time [ChooseMyPlate, 2016].
      • Back in the Stone Age, before modern-day technology and agricultural practices came about, Prehistoric people hunted and gathered most of their food.
      • As a result, Stone Age Prehistoric people mostly ate fruits, vegetables, lean meat, legumes, and nuts which are types of whole foods. These are foods that have only one (1) ingredient.
      • In fact, about 65% of their diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and honey, and 35% consisted of lean meat, eggs, shellfish, and fish (Graves, n.d.).
      • All their foods were natural, or without any processing or added chemicals.
      • Also, because they had to gather or hunt their food, Prehistoric people were very active. They had to run after prey, dig for food, walk for water, etc. In the act of simply finding food to eat, these Prehistoric people had to use a lot of energy!
    • Share:
      • Modern people today eat a wide range of things consisting of cultivated fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products often from factory farms that add hormones and antibiotics, processed grains, cereal, pasta, bread, process oils and foods, and added sugar.
      • A factory farm is a large industrialized farm where large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions that aim to maximize production at minimal cost.
      • Added sugar is a caloric sweetener that is added to foods during processing, preparation, or consumed separately (Gearing, n.d.).
      • In fact, about 55% of our diet consists of “new” foods (processed foods, dairy, alcohol, and added sugar, etc.), 28% fatty meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish, and only 17% fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes (Graves, n.d.).
      • What a difference! Yet, our bodily needs haven’t changed that much from that of a Prehistoric people. We still need to use the energy we’re getting from food. However, because we don’t have to hunt or gather our food, many modern-day humans are leading a more sedentary lifestyle.
      • What a difference! Yet, our bodily needs haven’t changed that much from that of a Prehistoric people. We still need to use the energy we’re getting from food. However, because we don’t have to hunt or gather our food, many modern-day humans are leading a more sedentary lifestyle.
      • Sedentary is characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise; inactive.
      • In other words, we are often sitting in front of computers, while driving, etc. With restaurants, TV dinners, and canned food readily available, we also don’t have to use that much energy to prepare our foods since we can just get take out or eat out.
      • As a result, the food we get is often highly processed and not as fresh.
      • Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their original state for safety reasons and for convenience.
    514143-1535650284-58-3-blob.pngInformation from Graves, (n.d.) converted into an image.

    Real World Relevance: Over the Years

    • Instruction:
      • Display the table below in the presentation or on the projector or board.
    • Share:
      • Let’s learn more about the evolution of our food and eating pattern over the past 200 years and the effects of these changes.
      • Evolution is the process of slow change and development.
    Year Milestone Effects
    1801 The French invented the fryer: evidence of the first French fry Increase consumption of junk food and fast food such as greasy and fattening processed foods.
    1812 Sweet Start: Russian chemist invented the process of making corn syrup from cornstarch. Increase consumption of chips, artificial coloring snacks, and processed foods which may have contributed to chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity.
    1900 Coca-Cola led by a pharmacist: Coca-Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks. With another pharmacist, the Coca-Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900. Increase the consumption of sugary drinks, which may have contributed to chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity.
    1920 The invention of refrigerators was brought to households for food preserving and storing. People can store fresh food for longer periods of time and don’t have to worry as much about finding food every day.
    1930 It’s a wonder: sliced bread! Wonder bread is everywhere. Increase consumption of refined grains, which is not as healthy as whole grains. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ, to give a finer texture and improve shelf life. But it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.
    1939 Mac n Cheese: Kraft Macaroni and cheese dinner was introduced in the US and Canada. The timing of the product’s launch had much to do with its success. During World War II, rationing on milk and dairy and an increased reliance on meatless entrees created a captive market for the product, which was considered a hearty meal for families. Increase consumption of meat and dairy products, which may lead to a nutritionally unbalanced diet because not getting all of the five (5) food groups as recommended by MyPlate.
    1954 Turkey plus TV equals dinner: After Thanksgiving, Swanson was determined to make use of the leftover turkey. Using airplane trays, they created the TV dinner.

    Increase consumption of unhealthy frozen meals which may have contributed to chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity.

    Increase in sedentary behavior.
    1960 Frozen Dinners on a diet: the 60’s were lean years for the frozen food industry but not in the traditional sense. The 60s were characterized by a new diet craze in America, born from this were products like Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers.

    Increase consumption of minimally processed foods such as microwavable healthy dinners such as Lean Cuisines, canned vegetables and fruits, and frozen vegetables and fruits.

    Increased consumption of heavily processed foods such as frozen pizzas and meat dinners.
    1967 Big Mac makes an impact: A new sandwich hits the market featuring two beef patties called the Big Mac.

    Increase consumption of fast food like burgers, chicken nuggets, fast salad, and fries. which may have contributed to chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity.

    Increase in sedentary behavior. The meat is raised on factory farms which contribute to animal suffering, pollution, and are not as healthy to eat.
    • Instruction:
      • Discuss the following questions with participants:
        • Are the consequences positive or negative?
        • For example, a positive consequence of frozen dinners is the consumption of frozen vegetables and fruits as part of those meals since frozen foods last longer than fresh foods. A negative consequence though is the other processed food groups as part of frozen meals such as meat which is highly processed.

    Hands-On: Processed Food Stations

    • Share:
      • Now let’s learn more about the different types of processed foods.
        • Minimal: pre-prepped for convenience. Examples: bagged spinach, cut vegetables, and roasted nuts.
        • Peak: locks in nutritional quality and freshness. Examples: canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
        • Flavor & Texture: added sweeteners, spices, oils, colors, and Examples: jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
        • Ready-to-eat: more heavily processed. Examples: crackers and deli meat.
        • Pre-made meals: the most heavily processed. Examples: frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners [Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016].
      • What processed foods are healthiest to eat and the not so healthiest to eat?
        • Minimal, peak and flavor & textured foods are still healthy to eat, but ready-to-eat and pre-made meals are not so healthy to eat.
    • Set Up:
      • Around the room, set up six (6) stations with the following processed food/drink items or photos of them:
        • Canned corn
        • Potato chips
        • Bottled orange juice
        • Beef jerky
        • Trail mix (with nuts only)
        • Ketchup
    • Instruction:
      • Split participants into six (6) equal groups.
      • Each group will be assigned to begin at one (1) station.
      • After a certain amount of time, (suggest 5-15 minutes) signal (stopping of music playing, gong, whistle, etc.) groups to switch stations.
      • Repeat until all the groups have visited each station.
      • At each station, participants discuss the following questions and write on their worksheet what they think the original state of the food/drink is.
        • What is the original state of this food/drink?
        • What type of processed food is this food/drink?
        • Is it healthy to eat/drink? If not, what’s a healthier alternative?
      • Note: participants can look at the ingredient list to help them determine the original state of each item.
      • After each group has rotated through each station, have participants share their answers out loud and use below table to guide the discussion.
    Food/Drink Original State Processed Type Healthy?
    Canned Corn Corn on the cob Peak Yes
    Potato Chips Potato Ready to eat No
    Bottled Orange Juice Orange Flavor & Texture Yes, if 100% juice
    Beef Jerky Cow Ready to eat

    No, lean meats are better like canned tuna.

    Trail Mix (with nuts only) Nuts Minimal Yes
    Ketchup Tomato Flavor & Texture No


    Exit Ticket:

    • Instruction:
      • Have participants write on their worksheet or share out loud the following question(s).
        • How has your modern lifestyle influenced what you choose to eat?
        • What is a healthy alternative for a processed food you like that you are going to try?



    • Farm Sanctuary Video on Factory Farming Pigs: What Came Before. [give warning to participants that the content is graphic, and shows the violence animals suffer in factory farms. Share that there is a big movement towards avoiding purchasing from factory farms and that eating a plant-based diet can help people live a more philosophically balanced life by not harming other sentient beings, caring for the environment, and eating more of the USDA recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.}
    • Optional Activity:
      • Set up:
        • Place poster board presentation on the table. The board should include information on the differences between industrial vs. regional/local systems of food production. Lay out the pieces to the two puzzles on the table.
      • Instruction:
        • Make puzzles using images from the Internet glued to cardstock. Possible puzzle themes: Cow to a hamburger, wheat to bread, corn to soda. The pieces of the puzzle are the steps from raw ingredients to the finished food product. Puzzles will fit together to form a series of images.
        • For each puzzle, there should be 2 variations, one for the Industrial Food Chain, and one for the Local Food Chain. The industrial chain puzzle will include more steps and be much more difficult to piece together than the local food chain.
      • Share:
        • Ask the participants to look at the poster. Explain it and ask them questions about how to get from A to B. Ask two participants to volunteer to compete with each other by trying to finish their puzzle first. Have one participant work on the puzzle of the chain of production for industrial agriculture, and the other participant to work on the local/regional food networks.
          • Which one was harder? Why?
          • Do you know how your lunch was made or where it came from?
          • Have you ever been to a farmer’s market?
          • What do you know about how food is produced?
          • Have you ever been on a farm?
          • Do you think the food in the cafeteria is fresh?

    This lesson was created in partnership with Albert Einstein College of Medicine Department of Epidemiology and Population Health with funding support by the National Institutes of Health NIDDK Grant R01DK097096.

    This page titled 3.6: Whole Food Evolution is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.

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