In addition to diet and nutrition, sourcing and preparation of food also present many opportunities for physical, emotional and social development.
Even though Dr. Montessori has pioneered sensorial education about a century ago, smell and taste continue to be very underutilized teaching tools. While taste is predominantly perceived in the mouth, the overall eating experience also depends heavily on the smell, neurochemical activation and memory. And, even though we have significant sophistication and a very large range in our taste receptors, our tastes continue to be shaped all through life, in fact from even when we are in the womb itself. This is why children from different homes and cultures can acquire very different tastes and preferences and why our tastes continue to evolve over time. It is therefore important to train our taste buds well and to build strong and healthy taste association and related memory. Early childhood eating environments and experiences are critically important for the development of a sophisticated palate. These are the reasons why our lunch program pays close attention to taste acquisition as well. Our desire is that natural and wholesome foods and their benefits are accessible to our children for life. Further, the sophistication of the marketing techniques employed by vendors of processed and fast food options require that children are well informed, empowered and have the emotional and mindfulness tools so they can judge and discriminate between available food options.
Exposing children to the complete life cycle of the food we eat can be very empowering. This life cycle includes an intimate awareness of what they are eating, how the ingredients are sourced, how the health of the plants and their produce depends on the soil and its nutrients and cultivation, the culinary skills needed for food preparation and the role of composting. Such awareness is essential for fostering respect for the food on our tables and building empowerment.
At Sankalpa Academy, within the constraints presented by medical needs and allergies, we will try to ensure that our lunches are a communal and educational experience. Our lunch offering will rely on wholesome, organic ingredients and minimize or avoid processed foods. Our children will be exposed to the cultural, physiological, financial and aesthetic aspects of food sourcing, preparation and consumption. Children will participate in the planning and preparation of lunch items in an age appropriate manner. While we will offer a lacto-vegetarian diet that is drawn from many cultures, we will also make every effort to ensure that the ingredients are organic and sourced locally, and that the diet suits individual needs, varying for body type or meeting Vegan preferences.