Word Wednesday ‘Science You Can Eat’

This Week’s Word Is “Photosynthesis.”

The opening pages of Stefan Gates Science You Can Eat outline the importance of photosynthesis for creating the planet’s food. A double page spread sets out clearly and concisely this most fundamental of processes. Speaking as a parent of a child who is about to be tested on the principles of photosynthesis, I can vouch that the explanation is bang-on in terms of both content and ease of understanding. This “Where it all Starts” page, sets the tone for the entire book.

What is Science You Can Eat?

DK’s Science You Can Eat is a food science book that explains what happens when we eat. It is filled with the theory of food science but also offers some practical fun experiments your children can carry out to help them understand more about the science of the food that they eat. Aimed at children ages around 9 upwards, Science You Can Eat is a slim A4 sized hardback of 96 pages. It’s very similar in style and approach to The Bacteria Book, I reviewed last year.

After photosynthesis, the book asks  “What is Food?” breaking down and explaining fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Channeling even deeper, it explains what the macronutrients, micronutrients and non-nutrient components of food are. From there the book examines the science of taste and offers its first experiment, inviting your kids to fool their friends and family into thinking they’re tasting something they’re not.

From taste we move onto the importance of the other senses to food, most notably smell; the notoriously smelly durian fruit gets its own double page spread!

Each page is laid out in DK’s trademark style. With bright colored boxes and short explanatory paragraphs of text. There are lots of photos to engage readers too. There are also little lightbulb characters add random interesting facts like “Researchers from Oxford University, England, found that Italian opera music made people enjoy Italian food even more.”

The book is jam-packed with fascinating information for children and parents alike. There are pages devoted to which minerals are found in food, and their importance to the body. There’s also the science of food color, what different methods of cooking do to food and a great page on unusual foods. Your kids will love this, particularly the bit about “fartichokes,” though personally, I was more interested in the square watermelons.

The book’s experiments include an amazing one to find the iron in your breakfast cereal. I had no idea you could do that. Which is perhaps a bit embarrassing as I have a degree in chemistry! The pages on gum tells us that you can make it disappear by chewing it with chocolate! Who knew!? There’s a recipe for making your own cola drink that I think I’m going to have to try out with my boys over the summer. One experiment parents may wish to avoid, if they want to preserve the sanctity of their soft-furnishings, is the edible-slime; a marshmallow-cornflower mash up.

Did you know that cabbage has a superhydrophobic nano-coating? No? Well, Stefan Gates does and he explains what the cabbage uses it for, its practical applications, and how you can destroy it. Color changing cabbages are also explained with another awesome experiment, and there’s the obligatory invisible ink/lemon juice investigation too.

If all that wasn’t enough, the science of eggs, bread, and bananas is explained. Moldy food, chillis, and onions also get the once over and there are several pages devoted to the digestive system.

The book closes with pages dedicated to specific types of food and fascinating facts about them. Fruit, vegetables, meat, and fake meats are explored before the book delves into the “foods of the future.” The final page is sure to fascinate and gross out your children in equal measure. “Would you eat a bug?” explores the possibilities of insect-based foodstuffs and explains its eco-friendly advantages.

Why Read Science You Can Eat?

This is an impressive book that conveys so much important information about the food that we eat. It delivers this information in a very accessible way. Every page has at least one fascinating fact on it. Often more; there’s lots of really great science here. Much of this science is taught in schools, but Science You Can Eat takes that learning out of the classroom and immediately makes it more inviting and accessible.

As you’d expect from a DK book, the layout is excellent. Information is grouped sensibly together and the use of text bubbles and diagram annotations means that key points are parcelled up in easily digestible portions. I’ve not tried any of the experiments in the book yet, but they look to be great ways to switch kids on to the excitement of science, offering great opportunities for learning and kitchen destruction along the way. (Seriously. That edible slime experiment brings me out in a cold sweat, just looking at it.)

Good nutritional advice is essential for our children as they grow up in a world dominated by fast food and sugar. I know I made some terrible food choices growing up. I would say the amount of information available to families about good diet is certainly better than it was in the 1970s and 80s. Books like Science You Can Eat don’t preach a particular lifestyle, it’s not trying to sell a particular diet. It is trying to arm children and adults with the necessary information to allow them to make informed choices about where their food is coming from and what the benefits (or otherwise) of eating certain types of food may be.

Science You Can Eat is an excellent book that allows children to understand one of the fundamental processes of living things. Nutrition.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Science You Can Eat, you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK.

If you enjoyed this review, do check out my other Word Wednesday posts.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. 

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