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