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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



Build a Salad Day


Since earliest times people have harvested wild leafy plants, especially in spring, when they were young and tender. Some of the wild plants available to early foragers were wild celery, chervils, cresses, and parsley. Salads were among the first cultivated plants that people grew in their gardens.

In pre-Roman times, people in England enjoyed beet greens. The Roman occupation brought lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, endive and sorrel. Medieval monks planted them among the herbs in their gardens, and Renaissance gardeners developed new varieties and produced them in greater quantities.

The word "salad" comes from the Latin word "herba salta" or "salted herbs," so called because such greens were usually seasoned with dressings containing lots of salt. Early American colonists called it "sallet." They brought their favorite seeds to the New World, established kitchen gardens, and dined on their seasonal treasures. The first German-American herbal, printed in 1777, included 35 plants used as salads.

During the late 19th Century, the concept of salads expanded. At first the most daring addition was the fresh tomato, long suspected by some Americans and Western Europeans as dangerous when eaten raw. Fruit salads followed , and by the end of the century, potato, egg, or chicken salads in fancy presentations flourished.

The modern salad bar probably first emerged in the late 1960s.

Build a Salad
  • Bring assorted ingredients and let students build their own salads, as they like them. Bring unusual ingredients in many colors (See below.) to encourage students to try something different.
  • Give prizes for Prettiest Salad, Most Unusual Salad and Most Nutritious Salad.
  • Keep it neat by having students assemble their salads in zip lock bags and drizzle in dressing. Provide plastic forks and napkins.
Learning Activities
  • Students sort vegetable ingredients by color: fruit, vegetable; protein, carbohydrate; plant part (leaf, root, stem or fruit); food group. Challenge students to think of other ways to sort vegetables.
  • Students weigh their salads.
  • Students compose their salads into still life art compositions. Photograph salads for web presentations.
Writing Prompt

Describe the best salad you ever ate.

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Smart Board Acitivity page
Head, Honor, Salad (On Your Plate), Franklin Watts, 2007. (Grades PreK-3)
Introduces young children to the variety of food we eat, including where it comes from and how it is prepared and cooked.
Katzen, Molly, Salad People and More Real Recipes: Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up, Tricycle, 2005. (Grades PreK-3)
Kid-friendly recipes with detailed, step-by-step instructions for adults with a second set of instructions for kids. Includes color pictures of dancing produce. All the recipes have been preschooler-tested.
Salas, Laura Purdie, Lettuce Introduce You: Poems About Food, Capstone, 2008. (Grades PreK-2)
This fun assortment of poetry explores nutrition through a variety of poetry formats.
Stevens, Janet, Tops & Bottoms, Harcourt Brace, 1995. (K-4)
Hoping to rise above his level of poverty, clever Hare strikes a deal with a rich and lazy bear in which Bear will contribute the land while Hare will provide the labor for a profitable harvest.