Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tales from Home Economics

I come from a family of teachers. The newest addition to my teaching family is my mother-in-law Ellen, who teaches Home Economics to middle school students. As you can imagine, she sometimes has to get REALLY creative to hold the attention of that age group!

Now, cooking often involves a bit of microbiology, like using yeast to make bread dough rise. Many of Ellen's students are indeed surprised to learn that they are adding LIVE MICROBES to the dough. Some even feel bad about killing so many microbes to make a loaf of bread. But how do yeast make the dough rise? The explanation Ellen gives is this:

The yeast eat sugars in the dough and 'burp' or 'fart' out gas.

Can you imagine the expressions on her students' faces? Her statement is accurate, in the same way good soil is really made up of worm poop. For better or for worse, when microbes are used in food products you will end up eating something that has been excreted from a microbe. Thank goodness it is all so delicious!

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