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Kids Learn Sources of Pizza Products
By Linda Breazeale
VERONA -- If Old MacDonald had a pizza farm, he'd grow more than pigs and cows. More than 800 third graders recently learned the many sources of pizza products -- from the box to the herbs.
Today's children have fewer opportunities to see animals and crops growing on farms and so are less aware of the sources of many products.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service organized the Pizza Farm Field Days at the Lee County Agri-Center in Verona to educate children on the importance of farmers and agriculture to produce kid's all-time favorite food -- pizza.
"We want children to understand and respect what farmers do and what farming has meant to this country," Lee County 4-H agent Sherry Smith said. "Children used to have at least one relative who lived on a farm, but that is becoming more rare."
The field days event allowed classes to rotate around eight educational presentations. Each stop explained in an entertaining way a different commodity involved in pizza production.
The sections, or slices, included:
- wheat -- which is used in the crust;
- soybeans -- used for the oil to cook the pizza;
- dairy cattle -- which contribute the cheese;
- pigs -- one source of meat products;
- beef -- another meat source;
- herbs -- used for giving pizza its unique flavor; and
- vegetables -- including tomatoes and other toppings.
After hearing each educational presentation, children visited an outdoor, pizza-shaped mini-farm. Each slice contained the different commodities in their on-the-farm condition.
Tara Morgan of Saltillo was one of the third graders visiting the Pizza Farm. Although she lives on a beef cattle farm, Tara said she learned about the many by-products from cows. "I learned that we get lots of things from cows. Things like make-up and perfume and the brush part of paint brushes," Morgan said.
The Mississippi Cattle Industry Board was a major contributor to the project, even providing teachers with resource materials to build lesson plans.
Christy Haddon, a third grade teacher in Saltillo, said the presentations were entertaining and educational.
"After we returned to the school, we used many of the principles the children had learned in additional lesson plans including math," Haddon said.
Smith said event organizers depended on the input from commodity groups and industries. A morning break was sponsored by Barber Dairies, who supplied milk, and by McDonald's, who provided cookies. Dominoes Pizza provided pizzas for lunch, and Pepsi contributed the lunch drinks.
"We believe strongly in the need to inform children about agriculture," said James Shelton, division manager of Barber Dairies. "We need to broaden children's knowledge and appreciation for dairy producers and others involved in agriculture."
Released: May 12, 1997
Contact: Sherry Smith, (601) 841-9000