Third Graders Learn What the World Eats

As the Thanksgiving holiday wrapped up, students at East Elementary School in Waukon reflected on what foods typically fill their plates. After reliving the memories of fresh cut turkey slices, steaming mashed potatoes and vibrant cranberries, we looked at our meals with a different set of lenses – those of the USDA’s MyPlate.


MyPlate is the new MyPyramid, established in 2011. It offers an easy to understand, simplistic design that highlights the following five food groups: protein, vegetables, fruit, grains and dairy. Although the United States has modified the way their nutrition recommendations are dispensed, traditional cultural diets can still be found outlined in a pyramid shape.

The Oldways pyramids highlights five different cultures and their traditional diets. These pyramids represent a way of eating based on eating what is growing around you – much like the Food and Fitness local foods movement  – in order to build a healthy plate, diet and body.

Students split a paper plate into four sections and labeled them “vegetables”, “fruit”, “grains” and “protein”. They then were tasked with exploring their Oldways diet, whether that be the Asian diet, the African Heritage diet, the Latin American diet, the Mediterranean diet or the Vegan and Vegetarian diet, and picking a food from that diet that fits into each section of their plate.

Students learned why Asian cultures eat a lot of fish protein and why the fruits we eat might differ based on our proximity to the equator. They even learned what very important Iowa crop makes tofu, a protein staple in the vegetarian and Asian diet – soybeans!


Explore the Oldways traditional diets here!


From deep in the driftless,



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