Roy Ballam compares two books on food technology for the new GCSE syllabuses
There's a huge range of resources to support teaching food technology; the question is which to choose - especially as they all cover similar topics. Although I would describe these two books as "more of the same", they display some interesting features which make them stand on their own.
Both publications introduce and explore the functional properties of food commodities. The Investigating Ingredients chapter in the Collins book is well produced, showing the function and application of a number of ingredients - all of which are simply explained, with practical food examples, but little attention to chemistry. This will help lower ability pupils, but may not offer enough stimulus or scientific understanding to motivate the more able. The Oxford book tackles this area well, and introduces the concepts of chemistry in an accessible way.
Another well explained, and often misunderstood, area is that of food systems and control. Both books make good use of flow charts and industrial case studies - all clearly showing how systems and control are used to produce consistent quality food products.
The Collins book also contains a number of up-to-date facts and figures. For example, reference is made to the fat replacer Olesta and genetic modification. It also contains a number of more traditional home economics tasks, for example to "spot the hazards and safety risks in the kitchen". However, the emphasis is mostly technological.
In contrast, the Oxford book tends to blur the boundaries of food technology with home economics and catering. This leaves the reader unsure of the area of study and the relevance of the information presented, for example,when looking at the features on slow cookers or tips on pressure cookery. Although these aspects can be covered in a technological context, this information has been presented in numerous previous textbooks.
The design of the Collins book is busy, and page layouts are often confusing. The use of bold printing highlights significant vocabulary, which might have been more usefully explained in a glossary at the end of the book - as with the Oxford book.
The quality of photographs and illustrations is variable. The Oxford book has a clearer and simpler style. In both books, each chapter ends with a number of comprehension questions. Reference to focused tasks and design assignments would be more appropriate for Damp;T publications.
There are some typographical errors in the Collins book, for example, in the chart "The Nutrients We Need". It is excessive, not to say toxic, to suggest that women breast feeding need 1,200g Vitamin A and 10g Vitamin D daily. The correct figures are 950 micrograms and 10 micrograms respectively. Attention to detail is needed, espe-cially when pupils may use these figures to support exam coursework for qualifications. (The book is recommended by the Midlands Examining Group.) The Oxford book classifies diabetes as a food intolerance. Nutrition scientists would disagree with this. The management of the condition is through diet - not its aetiology. The author uses some questionable terminology, for example, when referring to the "third world", and describes single people as "students, divorced, young, have a busy lifestyle, rely on small incomes and have limited cooking equipment and skills".
These publications cover the important aspects of food tech-nology, with some up-to-date facts and excellent case study materials. But the Collins book suffers from typographical errors and a design which tries to do too much. The Oxford book is well produced, although much of the material has already appeared in other publications by the same author.
Roy Ballam is education liaison officer of the British Nutrition Foundation