May 14, 2011


Groton students make push for local food

Fifth-graders put on skits for elementary school as part of project studying local farms

FoodJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Groton Elementary School fifth-graders River Milsapp, left, and Jacob Billson act out a skit for the student body Friday touting the benefits of buying and consuming locally grown produce.

Staff Reporter

GROTON — The fifth-graders in teacher John D’Antonio’s class had a message Friday for their fellow students: Buy and eat local foods — they’re better for you.
They spent the last three weeks practicing eight skits and performed them in Groton’s elementary school cafeteria to illustrate some of the little-known facts behind produce grown by local farmers.
Students said they learned from research that some locally grown foods have fewer chemicals in them and can be much healthier than the same foods imported from other countries.
Students also said they learned how to pick the right food for their bodies and avoid junk.
“I figured out cucumbers have Vitamin A and D,” said Christy Sinclair.
Her classmate Kelsey Murdoch said she learned that eating fresh cauliflower could reduce the risk of cancer.
Joel Robinson said he learned that vitamins found in fresh cherries can ease the aging process and contribute to youthful vitality. During one skit, he played a bitter old man who suddenly felt young again and danced around after eating a cherry.
All of the skits were dosed with humor.
Jaymez Bailey and three other students used Pac-Man cutouts to tell the audience about the healthiness of eating corn on the cob.
Later, two students parodied a song by pop singer Justin Bieber, making the lyrics about the health benefits of carrots — namely how carrots improve eyesight.
“You know they get me gazin’, cuz they’re so amazin’,” they sang.
D’Antonio’s students said they learned some valuable lessons in the project that made them think twice about what kinds of snacks they eat.
“We’re going to try and put this to use and improve our diets to make us a lot healthier,” said fifth-grader Logan Roberts, who introduced each skit.
Retired Groton elementary teacher Marilynn Levine, who also gardens and grows blueberries, helped D’Antonio’s students with the project. Levine said she was impressed with their enthusiasm for healthy eating.
“The unhealthy habits that a vast majority of kids have is because they’re not educated on the subject,” Levine said. “It’s much easier to stop for fast food than think about where to go for something healthy.”
Bailey said he learned in class that farmers have lost crops and money due to recent heavy rainfall in the region and need support from local customers.
“The land is too wet for the seeds to germinate right now,” Robinson added.
Supermarkets only give 20 percent of the profits back to farmers, but farmers keep 90 percent when their crops are sold in farm markets, D’Antonio and his students said.
D’Antonio said farmers in Tompkins County donated vegetables and other naturally grown foods for his class to use in their project to learn the benefits of local versus imported foods.
At least 350 students and school staff members watched their morning performance. The class performed a second time in the afternoon.
After their first performance, the class ate chili and other snacks they prepared from donated local vegetables, beef and other crops.


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