Food & Nutrition Project Ideas

4-H Project Ideas for Food & Nutrition

Source: University of Minnesota Extension

Enrolling in the Food & Nutrition project area doesn't mean you have to bake cookies to exhibit at the county fair.  Check out these great ideas.

Ideas for Your Project:

1.  Ask your grandma to share some favorite recipes of hers (or yours) and ask her if she'll even teach you how to make them.  You'll have a great time learning how to make old family favorites and spend some quality time with your grandma.

2.  Check out some international cookbooks from the local library.  Experiment with some recipes from your family heritage or just try some new ideas.  You may discover that you like true Danish pastries or authentic Korean food.  Invite your friends and neighbors to participate in an international potluck and sample a variety of food from around the world.

3.  Experiment with sugar and various substitutes.  Make the same recipe multiple times and vary only the sugar or substitute used.  Have your family and friends participate in a blind taste test and see if they can tell the difference between each one.

4.  Visit a bottling companies and ask if you can take a tour of their facilities.  Have some questions prepared beforehand and interview them about their packaging or bottling processes.  Find out how they follow proper nutrition and food safety guidelines.

5.  Develop your own fitness or healthy eating plan.  Be sure you are getting the appropriate nutrients within the normal range of calories for your age range and are participating in the correct amount of exercise.  To learn more about the food pyramid and calories, stop by the Extension Office for a copy of the new food pyramid.

6.  Study how long it takes for foods to spoil and what happens as they do.  (You may want to get your parent's permission before trying this one!)  Leave perishable food items in room temperature for several days, checking to see what happens to them over time.  Compare this to the same item left in refrigeration for the same amount of days.  Record your results and create a display for your fair project.

7.  Research some careers in the food industry.  You might be able to interview or shadow a local person in their food industry job.  Find out what level of education they needed to get their job and what kinds of tasks they do.  You might look at other jobs in the food industry to understand the diversity of jobs available.

8.  Compare the needs of an athlete to a sedentary person.  Create eating plans for both and see how they are similar and different.  You might also do a consumer study on food products marketed at athletes:  sports drinks, energy bars, etc.  Are they meeting the athlete's needs? Click here for ISU's Food for Fitness and Fun web site.

9.  Compare prices on generic and brand name food items in the store.  Or, compare prices on one item in different stores.  Which was a better deal?  Can you compare on price alone?  What other characteristics might you need to consider?

10.  Ask for a cookbook as a gift for your next birthday or holiday.  Try some new recipes and cooking techniques.  Cookbooks with pictures and step by step directions are handy for the beginner chef or someone wanting to learn some new tricks in the kitchen.

11.  Research the food safety guidelines used by local restaurants or food stores.  Put together a presentation for your 4-H club or a poster on food safety. Click here for ISU's Food Safety web site.

12.  Come up with your own activity, or call the Extension Office for more great ideas.  We also have several project books you can check out or purchase.  These books are full of hands-on ideas for you to learn more about food and nutrition.

Links to Visit for Further Information and Ideas:

***Please note: these links will take you to non-ISU Extension web sites.

Extension Minnesota's Family Page:  Topics covered:  Dairy Products, Food, Food Preservation, Food Safety, Health, Human Nutrition, Meat

Fantastic Foods:  Indiana 4-H has created a web page to supplement the Fantastic Foods 4-H Curriculum.  Even if you don't have the books, this is a great web page to check out.

Food and Nutrition Information Center:  Click here for a variety of Food and Nutrition information.  It is part of the USDA and ARS. 

Foods PLUS Sheet:  This Foods PLUS Sheet gives you great ideas of how to start your project and what you could do for a fair exhibit.  Created by Naomi Fruechte, former Houston County Extension Educator.

WebMD Food and Nutrition page:  Get health and nutrition information from a variety of doctors.  And better yet, it's free advice from a doctor!

If you need more help or ideas, we have a variety of resources for you in the Extension Office. Feel free to stop by or give us a call at 563-568-6345.

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