Middle School Boys Examine Food and Poverty Through a Global Lens

Global Thinking focuses on pagpag, the term for recycled food in Southeast Asia.
Last week, sixth grade boys in Derek Porter’s Global Thinking class discussed the health, poverty and social issues surrounding pagpag, a Southeast Asian term for recycled food sourced from dumps and garbage bins. While selling pappag is illegal, it’s a common meal for many people in some of the world’s poorest populations.

After viewing a short documentary about pagpag in the Philippines and the communities who eat it, boys discussed questions posed by Porter, examined their own circumstances and grappled with the benefits of affordable meals vs. the health risks the food presents. 

“How hungry would you have to be to eat pagpag?” asked Porter. The exercise sparked a lively class discussion about people living under difficult circumstances and the role that governments have in choosing to regulate, ignore or crack down on pagpag vendors. 

Porter wants the boys to experience diverse perspectives, global communities, and to realize that poverty creates conditions that require ingenuity and resilience.“The majority of the world is poor by American standards,” said Porter. “Looking at pagpag is a powerful, visceral way of looking at poverty. This can be really impactful for a sixth grader in a way that’s very concrete.”
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