Students cooking up dishes in science course

SUBMITTED PHOTO Isaac Simon cuts a jalapeno pepper for salsa in Kristal Brogan’s food science class.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Mixing fresh ingredients in Kristal Brogan’s food science class are, from left, Merredith Farlinger, Morgan Langeslag and Caitlin Miner.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The food science courses taught by Kingsland ag instructor Kristal Brogan may appear to be a lot like old school home economics classes, because they are, but at the same time, they aren’t.

They are as much about science as they are about food.

“We cover the Minnesota chemistry standards – we start with a ‘basics of science’ topics, from measuring and scientific method, then we move into a discussion on sensory evaluation and the periodic table,” Brogan, said. “We then explore topics such as sugars, fats, proteins, etc., and how they relate to food.  We also include topics such as food safety, food preservation, careers, product development and more.”   

Kingsland started offering food science classes during the 2015-2016 school year when Brogan obtained a grant through the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) for this. 

“I personally never took a home ec class, but the students complete various labs that require them to cook,” she said. “We then look at the results and evaluate the effects of the different variations and why they have occurred.” 

She’s given her students a chance to try out making some foods that they might not otherwise venture to prepare because they’re from produce donated to the ag department for the food science class. Recently, she put her pupils to work making tomato jam so they could learn how to use garden vegetables in daily cooking. 

Many local residents donate the produce, which Brogan has the students use in a variety of ways, including making refrigerator pickles and salsa.

“When I have the produce available, I incorporate it,” Brogan said. “I think it is important for students to know the process.  It might interest them to one day do it at home. I think of it as a lost art.  And I’ve tried to introduce some food science in seventh grade ag, too.”  

She hopes to expand her food science classes as time and ingredients allow. 

“It is a hands-on class that allows students to learn about the chemistry of food,” she said. “We try to make it fun for students.  I hope the students enjoy learning science through food.  It is something that they can easily relate to.”