Organic Vs. Conventional

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We just had Earth Hour last week and are now into April. With Earth Day coming up, this is a great time to open up a conversation with your children about the earth and caring for our planet. There are many hot topics when it comes to the environment and many views on what the real problem is (or is not!) with our planet. Regardless of your opinion or knowledge on the topics, we have some great little experiments that you can try with kids of all ages to get both you and them thinking. The first is to take a look at organic farming vs. conventional farming.

WHAT YOU NEED

This part is easy – go to the grocery store and buy two of the same fruits or vegetables, one organic and one not labelled organic. Try to get two pieces that appear to be the same quality, freshness, and age. If at all possible, try to get them from the same location (e.g. both from Canada, both from Mexico). We used apples.

WHAT TO DO

Absolutely nothing! Bring them home and put them side by side on your counter somewhere. Then wait a few days, weeks, or months depending on the produce you selected.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

At regular intervals, have your children take a look at the produce and see if they still look the same. Is one decomposing faster than the other? Does one smell different than the other? Do they feel different?

ENDING THE EXPERIMENT

When you have had enough of your observations, cut both pieces of produce in half and see if there are any differences happening inside.

WHAT WE  NOTICED

We kept our apples out for two months. The organic apple’s peel went wrinkly and soft, and the conventionally grown apple’s did not. When we cut them open, the organic apple had begun to rot inside, where the conventionally grown apple had not begun to visibly decompose.

QUESTIONS TO ASK (and perhaps Google!)

  1. What does it mean to be grown ‘organically’? What does ‘conventionally grown’ mean?
  2. Why does growing food organically seem like a good idea? Why does growing food conventionally seem like a good idea?
  3. What else could have made them decompose at different/same rates?
  4. Do you think they taste different from each other? Why or why not?
  5. What does GMO mean? How do you know if something is a GMO?
  6. Why does organic food cost more than conventionally grown food?
  7. What does ‘natural’ mean in reference to food? Do organic and natural mean the same thing?

 

Baking Soda + Vinegar = Magic

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There are very few things that excite my children quite the way vinegar and baking soda do. The combo is a staple in my house on boring days and play dates, and when bought in bulk, they’re cheap and easy entertainment! There are three great ways to play:

The VOLCANO

The classic! You can go all out with the paper mache and paint or you can stick to basics with this one. Hang onto a transparent plastic water/pop bottle, clean off any label so that you can see through it. Place it in a large, shallow dish. Fill the bottle about 1/5th with baking soda, then slowly pour in vinegar. Add a few drops of food colouring to the vinegar if you want to make it more dramatic.

The EXPLOSION

Draw out the magic a little bit! This is a great activity for children of all ages. Get a baking pan (like an 8×8 square for example) and pour about 1cm of baking soda equally across the bottom. Repeat for each child. Pour a few small cups of vinegar and use food colouring to tint them different hues. Give your child a medicine dropper or syringe (not the kind with a needle, obviously!) and let them experiment with adding drops of vinegar into the baking soda to make little bombs explode all over the pan. Play with colour combinations by dropping one colour over another colour. Try big drops vs small drops. Do rapid successions of drops vs slow drops. This is a great time filler activity!

The MAGIC HAND

For this one you’ll need your baking soda, vinegar, a glass jar (Mason jar or old spaghetti sauce/pickle/salsa jar with the label taken off), and a disposable glove (latex or latex-free). Pour some vinegar in the jar and pour some baking soda in the glove. Without spilling the baking soda into the jar (keep it in the fingers), put the wrist of the glove over the mouth of the jar and make sure it is sealed. Slowly tip the glove so that the baking soda mixes into the vinegar. Watch as the reaction causes the glove to fill up, ready for a high five! Try different amounts of baking soda and vinegar – watch as less makes the glove fill slowly, more will make the glove fly away! Click HERE to watch a video.

When your kids are all done with their play, dump the vinegar and baking soda mess into your sink and give it a scrub – it’ll be shining!