Content in a Nutshell

"What in the world isn't chemistry?" We often read or view statements leading the average person to believe that all chemicals are dangerous, that they should be avoided, and that "natural" substances are preferable to "chemicals." But every natural thing is made of chemicals: the food we eat, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, and even our own bodies.

In this module, students will study some of the foods they eat and investigate how to use and buy the products they consume. Although no new concepts are introduced, many fundamental chemical concepts such as oxidation-reduction, acids and bases, and biochemistry are reinforced by the subject matter in this chapter. Students will see that chemicals are part of their daily nutrition and learn that "natural" products such as milk yield to analysis just like chemicals from the stockroom.

Place in the Curriculum

This module may be used at all levels of study. Some parts assume knowledge of fundamental concepts.

Central Concepts

  1. Not all chemical substances are bad for human consumption. Foods are essential for our existence.
  2. Certain compounds and elements are essential for a balanced diet.
  3. The body has certain nutritional requirements, and the foods we eat affect our health.
  4. Labels on foods and other products are important in helping consumers understand the nature of the ingredients and additives used.

Related Concepts

  1. Oxidation-reduction
  2. Solution properties
  3. Basic organic chemistry
  4. Nutritional needs
  5. Protein chemistry

Related Skills

  1. Good observational skills
  2. Quantitative techniques

Performance Objectives

After completing their study of food and chemistry, students should be able to:

  1. know that foods are made of chemical substances.
  2. describe some laboratory activities that can be done with everyday substances.
  3. read and analyze some labels and determine the best buy in certain substances.
  4. classify food additives (e.g., acids, bases, sweeteners, preservatives) according to their properties.