March 11th, 2011 - By Therese Madden
Students at Philadelphia's Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences are making the grade in this unusual after school activity that is a model of Farm to Classroom learning.
Seems we hear it all the time, you should know where your food comes from. How it's grown. If it's meat, what it's fed, where it roams. The kids at Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences in Philadelphia, they know. Saul is a Public School in Roxborough where students come from all over the city to study Agricultural Sciences. The 130 acre campus has greenhouses, a working farm, and even an after school meat club. Meat club? What do they learn in meat club?
"How to judge, evaluate, understand meat, meat cuts, safety behind the meat products, blending meat products, and general knowledge about meat," says Guy Amoroso, or "Mr. A," as the students call him. During the day he teaches both food and meat science, after school he leads the Meat Club.
This is not some bizarre club for this school only, remember the animated series King of the Hill? Bobby was in meat club. "Wow bobby you sure do know your way around a steak. I'd say I have to agree with that. I have never seen someone so young with so much meat savvy."
Meat club is a team effort. There are competitions in a bunch of different categories, such as meat judging. Presented with a carcass, students have to correctly identify the different cuts of meat, the age, and the grade.
But it's not only about competing, kids come to meat club for different reasons. 12th grader Chet Carter says, "I want to go into culinary, and I think being in meat club will give me a certain edge in culinary school."
9th grader Pajtim Saiti is only in his third week of meat club, but he has big plans. "I wanna just take all the fat out, as much as I can and make meat as healthy as possible," he said. All the kids agree, knowledge has made them more thoughtful and appreciative about what they eat, when they eat meat. Last year Mr. A's team came in 2nd place in the State Competition. His hope for this year?
"I don't care if they come in dead last, I want them to come in and give thier best and understand that competiton isn't just athletic, it can be career development. Everyone talks about competition and its always about the athlete, here we have athletes, but they are in meat judging. They are in landscape architecture, and this is just one of the strangest clubs there is," he said.