To choose tomato ketchup – using scientific knowledge in everyday life

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To choose tomato ketchup – using scientific knowledge in everyday life

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Title To choose tomato ketchup – using scientific knowledge in everyday life
Author(s) Sjöström, Jesper
Date 2010
English abstract
Teaching of general science for all in school can be motivated both because it has the potential to give all citizens knowledge about our surrounding world and how science as an enterprise is working, and because it can give all citizens knowledge useful in decisions both as private persons (e.g. in the role of consumers) and in the democracy. It is mainly in decisions about health and/or environment, in a broad sense, where knowledge in and about science is useful (Ratcliffe & Grace 2003). The competence of making well-grounded decisions is often called “action competence” (Mogensen 1997). This term has been developed in democracy education and stands for students’ ability to act both on an individual and a societal level. It can be described by social, value-based, personal and knowledgeable aspects (Breiting et al. 1999, p. 47). This paper is about the science based choices we have to do as consumers when choosing between different similar products. Often it is possible to choose an ecological product instead of the normal one, but it can also be for example a healthier product due to a higher degree of fibers. A group of individuals representing the general public has been asked to select in which order they would like to serve tomato ketchup to children and to give their motivation to why. They were asked to place four almost identical ketchup bottles (one kilogram and the same trademark) in order of preference. The four bottles to choose between were the following: • Normal tomato ketchup (60% tomato purée) • Ecological tomato ketchup (75% tomato purée) • Tomato ketchup with less sugar and salt (85% tomato purée) • Tomato ketchup with no added sugar (80% tomato purée; sucralose is used as sweetener) Choosing ketchup is of course about decision-making. As a background one has to do – more or less well-informed – cost-benefit analysis and risk assessments. To be active as a citizen and to be able to make well-grounded decisions one has to be literate about at least health and environmental issues. There are several knowledge dimensions when choosing between the four bottles of ketchup. Below is shown some of these knowledge aspects: • The problem of sugar consumption and its connection to caries, fatness, diabetes etc. • The problem of salt consumption and its connection to e.g. hypertension • Antioxidants (mainly lycopene, the red color of tomatoes, which has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer) • Additives (e.g. the artificial sweetener sucralose (with E number E955), which has been accepted by several national and international food safety regulatory bodies, but has – like other most artificial sweeteners – been questionized. Sucralose belongs to a class of compounds known as chlorocarbons and measurements by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute have shown that wastewater treatment has little effect on sucralose. There are no known eco-toxicological effects at the levels measured so far, but because sucralose is only slowly degraded in nature, there is a risk of continuously increasing levels.) • Cultivation of tomatoes and vegetables used for the production of sugar and acetic acid • Traces of biocides In addition to these aspects, of course also other aspects are important, such as product costs, taste, habits etc. At the conference results from the empirical study will be presented. With a basis in the empirical study the ability of the public to do risk-benefit analysis about chemical substances will be discussed. Questions about why this competence is something that every active citizen should have, and what teachers can do to support the development of the competence, will also be raised. References Breiting, Sören; Hedegaard, Kristian; Mogensen, Finn; Nielsen, Kirsten; Schnack, Karsten (1999) Handlekompetence, interessekonflikter og miljöundervisning. Odense Universitets-forlag. Mogensen, Finn (1997) “Critical thinking: a central element in developing action competence in health and environmental education” Health Education Research, 12(4):429-436. Ratcliffe, Mary; Grace, Marcus (2003) Science Education for Citizenship – Teaching Socio-Scientific Issues. Open University Press, Maidenhead.
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Host/Issue Abstracts, Active Citizenship
Pages Abstract 2, 10-11
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) decision-making
risk assessment
active citizenship
health education
environmental education
Humanities/Social Sciences
Note NERA's 38th Congress - Active Citizenship (Nordisk Förening för Pedagogisk Forskning) 11-13 March 2010 Malmö University School of Teacher Education, Malmö, Sweden
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