It was a global leap relocating Art of Conservation's base of operations from Rwanda to Mexico, but our mission remains consistent. For example... we focus on the protection of our planets great and fecund rainforests which lie north and south of the equator between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In preparation for AoC's upcoming Staying Healthy class on nutrition, I reviewed our notes from Rwanda and determined that many of the staple foods in Central Africa are similar to those of the Yucatan Peninsula. Foods, such as the avocado, have their origins in Mexico but are abundant - and delicious - in Rwanda too. Papaya, squash, sweet potatoes, beans, cacao/chocolate, honey are more foods grown in the tropics and eaten abundantly albeit with each regions special touch of spices and preparations. Also, regions have unique connotations for its foods. Corn, in the Maya world, has mythical status. And why not? It was their most important food source and is perhaps our first feat of genetic engineering.
Manuel sits in front of a nice selection of aguas frescas, tortillas, rice, beans, chili rellenos, chicken, and vegetables at a local 'fonda' in Tulum.
I've always loved Mexican/Caribbean food and it's a perfect time to learn more from farmers, market vendors, moms and dads who put food on the table for their families, restaurants, and hotels providing food for their guests and staff.
Manuel introduces me to his favorite cafes in Tulum so I can taste and photograph local delights in preparation of our nutrition lessons with the children.
Our library of food cards is getting pretty good. We will continue adding to it. I don't care for eating meat and pork. The children want to have a party for Manuel and me and serve their traditional Poc Chuc which I understand is a distinctly Yucatecan dish. This old concoction was made before refrigeration and when meat was preserved with salt. If I am not mistaken, the pork is slow-cooked underground and is combined with sour orange juice and vinegar. Then it is topped with onions sautéed with coriander and sugar.
In the classroom-
Our focus of the day is our One-Health Habit Eat a Healthy Diet which entails eating from different food groups, eating lots of vegetables and fruits, and drinking plenty of water (not soda pop).
Our felt mat consists of food groups- fruits, vegetables, grains, milk & dairy, meat/poultry/fish/dry beans/eggs, and finally oil.
Once children receive a stack of food cards on their table, they are asked to discuss with their classmates whether or not they are familiar with that particular food, if they like it or 'yuck', and what food group it belongs to.
Children share their cards with the entire class and place it on the mat in the correct food group.
We don't want to get too complicated at this point so we look at foods in their raw form. Our next discussion is about well-balanced meals. Please stay tuned.
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