“A salad has tomatoes in it.”- Heather

“I like cheese in my salad.”- Pierre

“The tiny cheese.” – Emmanuel

“Cucumbers come in a salad.”- Cameron

Temporalities of food waste: Thinking with rolling

We invite the children into the process of preparing and making salad for lunch.

We gather to create a shopping list of ingredients for the salad:

crunchies; lettuce; cucumber; apple; carrots

We spend time meeting each of the vegetables and fruits in the produce section of the grocery store. We notice their colours, shapes, textures, and Picking out a head of lettuce for the salad is not an easy task. We notice that there are many types of lettuce to choose from. Cindy suggests that we purchase ”the lettuce that rolls.”

Cindy’s idea that fruit and vegetables roll extends our conversations with food scraps.

Many fruits and vegetables roll.

We pay attention to how many vegetables in the scrap pile roll. Scraps are in various stages of curling and rolling.

“This one can roll, but this one can’t.”
– Emmanuel

As fingers and peelings work together, tucking, folding, and rolling, we pay attention to how layer upon layer shape the rolling lettuce.

“Let’s roll it.”
– Cindy

To intensify the idea of rolling vegetables, we become the rolling vegetables ourselves. Layer by layer we embody what it might be to be a rolling vegetable.

Bodies, fabrics, and videos of us rolling vegetables intertwine in the classroom.

“Look, we’re
rolling lettuce
too.” – Cameron

We are curious how
other vegetables are shaped through the layering.

While rolling cabbage rolls, Stella says, “I rolled a present.”

Becoming cabbage rolls as children and bodies and cabbage leaves roll together.

“We rolled Leanne!”
– Cameron

are also protagonist
as we think

with rolling.

We create banana rolling choreographies: pull, flatten, tuck, and roll

“Hold it here, roll it in. There, it is done!” – Emmanuel

“I’m making a lettuce sandwich. It goes around and around the food. You need big lettuce for sandwiches.”
– Cindy

We quickly notice that banana peels roll differently when the sticky part is on the outside.

As hands and sticky banana peels move together, Chrissy offers, “Let’s put all the banana peels into a banana.” Emmanuel and Chrissy carefully negotiate how to make the big banana. Emmanuel pulls the first banana peel from the pile, uncurls and flattens it with his fingertips and the palm of his hand.

“We lay them all flat and then put them into a pile,” says Emmanuel. “Put all the bananas in a banana!” offers Chrissy. From the flat row, Emmanuel picks up each banana peel and stacks it up one on top of the other into a column. As the pile grows higher, individual peels begin to slide out, refusing to stay put.

Sculpting the big banana is not an easy task. The gooey banana layers do not stick to each other.
We invite children to sketch the big banana and create a plan.
Through the sketches we return to the idea of rolling.

Paper Rolling

We invite paper into the rolling choreography, to follow Roberto’s suggestion to slice the sketches so we can create banana rolls.

“We need to slice it.” – Roberto

“I can roll a small one!” – Nancy

As choreography of rolling paper & banana rolling becomes a ritual, we notice that while the banana changes, the paper stays the same. “We can’t roll if anymore”, utters Emmanuel. Roberto notes, “It keeps breaking”.

Banana peels are changing…

The children notice the changes of the banana rolls.
“These are dead bananas” – Roberto
“The black one dies because it’s not yellow” – Joe
“The yellow bananas are alive” – Malik

“We can’t roll them anymore because they are hard” – Roberto
“We can’t roll them because it breaks” – Cameron

Cracking and breaking of decaying bananas peels leave crumbly pieces on the table and floor. “They keep breaking”, says Chrissy. “They’re all different”, notices Cameron.

Temporalities of decomposition

We pay close attention to the ways in which the banana rolls are changing. We study each stage of the decomposition process.

Drawing offers us a way to attend to the decaying process

We sit with the question of what it means to be a dead banana peel or a living banana peel. What makes a banana peel dead?

Photos of banana peels in
different decomposition
stages are projected onto
the wall as a way to pay
closer attention to their
changing process.

“They’re all different”,
says Emmanuel.

With charcoal and pencils, we pay attention to each stage of decomposition. Charcoal invites us to create dark bananas. Making both delicate and firm markings with the pencil, we draw the other stages of the bananas. “I made a very black banana”, declares Joe.

Stories of alive bananas and dead bananas continue to emerge through the drawing process.

As a way to think more about the alive and dead bananas, we slow down and focus on drawing each stage of decomposition one at a time. We sketch the “alive banana roll”

“This banana is alive”
– Emmanuel
“If it’s yellow, it’s alive.
If it has black it means
it’s dead.” – Roberto

“These are dead”, says Roberto. “The black one died because of the yellow”, offers Joe.

We return to the banana rolls and revisit them each day during the week through the practice of drawing.

As time passes, we notice changes.

We speculatively story how time is co-constructed across species.

We invite the children to watch a timelapse video of a banana. “It’s turning yellow, now it’s turning black!”, Emmanuel notices.

The children are noticing the color transformation of the banana but are unsure of what is causing the color change. We bring this problem to the large group.

“It turns to black and yellow. After yellow they get yucky so we put it in the garbage then it
will come back to yellow” – Joe

“It has battery in it!” – Adam

“When we wash the banana, it will turn back to yellow!” – Darius

The ideas that emerge from the time lapse video provide an opportunity for returning to the materiality of the bananas.

We notice the various stages of decomposition, as Emmanuel calls out: “The black banana!”

I’m drawing banana rolls. Look, I draw this black banana, I draw this big brown banana.

Bananas die when they are black, and they turn yellow after black. Those bananas are dead and alive. Because this banana is alive and with yellow and black a little bit dead. So yellow one is not dead.

And there’s bee in the banana that flies. The bees are right here fly in the brown banana. The bees fly in the brown banana because they’re yummy treats. So those are tiny bees, those are tiny black bees. Some of the bees are small some of them are big. So, the yellow ones turn small then they turn big. They’re eating the banana inside because the banana looks very yummy. It’s correct right here!

– Joe

To think through the decomposition time we work with plasticene and recreate banana rolls. As the image of decomposing bananas are projected onto the wall, children struggle to represent the decomposition process.

“We can’t make them yellow because they’re turning black. The yellow ones are alive, and the black ones are dead”. – Joe

Children notice that different colours are needed.

“You can’t put it on the black banana, you’re silly, we need black… We need more colors! We need black” – Joe

“We need brown, too!” – Malik

Dialogues between
plasticene and photography

To work through the struggles, we invite children to work with
plasticene. Children create
correspondences between the plasticine bananas and photos of banana rolls in various decomposition stages.

“The banana is turning brown.
Then it’s going to be black” – Emmanuel

Dialogues between plasticene
banana peels

To encounter decomposition time closer still we create dialogues between plasticene and the timelapse of our own banana roll decomposition.

“It’s turning to brown. It’s turning to black now!” – Darius
“A giant big banana roll!” – Joe

To encounter decomposition time more intimately we create dialogues between plasticene and bananas. Darius offers: “This is what happens to the banana peel if we put it in the compost. We can’t unroll it anymore because it breaks. It’s made of real banana.” Darius continues: “Can you see what I’m doing? I’m covering the yellow. Because when you put a real banana peel in the garbage, it will turn black. Now turn it into yellow again!”

We digitally curate the process of
decomposition of the banana peel rolls, and project it on the wall.

We enter…

Dialogues between plasticene and time lapse projections

“Why does it keep on
changing?”, Joe asks.

“The yellow and the black are under there. You wanna know
why? Because they died!” – Roberto

“Yellow can help. Yellow can help to make it normal. Yellow is the normal color, Roberto.” -Darius

“The yellow stops the black.” – Darius

We think with the idea
that “yellow stops the black”

“Yellow can’t stop black” – Emmanuel

“Black stops yellow. Yellow don’t stop black. It connect
the black to this, the yellow connect the brown to this.
You see. That’s how black stops yellow.” – Joe

We wonder if yellow can stop other colors, too!?

As dialogues intensify, we notice the presence of yet another colour.

Emmanuel calls out, “Hey look! Blue on the banana! The yellow is gonna eat the blue”. “This one, – Roberto notices pointing to black banana peel covered with blue mold, – is gonna be yellow again”.

Through the correspondences and dialogues, we shape and reshape the plasticene bananas many times. Colours mix, fade, and bleed into one another. They transform each other just as the banana peel transforms itself. Through this morphing we create a hybrid, what Darius names as “the banana of the future”.

Inspired by Darius’s idea
of the “banana of the future”,
we explore its possibilities.


“It looks like a city. There is a button that you can press and then the real banana comes out so you
can eat it. It’s all yellow.“ – Darius


“These are the germs
catching the
yellow (referring to the brown dots)” – Joe

“Banana of the future
does not have brown and black” – Darius


“The banana of the future is in the garden; we just have to dig it out. You
can find it in the square, under the vegetables.“ – Jasmine

The bees in the banana

As banana peels are left out in the classroom, we notice flying bugs gathering around them and collectively create stories of how they got into the classroom. The children refer to the bugs as the ‘bees’.

“The bees are here! They followed the black bananas!” – Darius
“How are they here?” – Joe
“Those are the sleeping bees.” – Malik

Bees in the yellow banana
“They came through the
door straws the space
in between the door”

“They follow the smell of
the black banana”
– Darius
“This is the leader bee; this is his arms,
and the baby bees rest there. The
grown up bees are here, too!” – Malik
Bees in the brown banana

All the bees fly to the
black banana. These
are the grown up bees
and the baby bees.”
– Malik

“First, the bees line up in three lines,
and they flew to the stairs and went through the door straws!”

“They have wings to fly!” – Malik
Bees in the black banana
“The leader bee leads them to our classroom. The leader bee is black in color, it has 2 hands, not the normal hands. It has a tall nose and at the end of it, you will see its 2 ears. It has a stripped belly and 3 wings, 2 on the sides and 1 on top of the head. It also has a “spiky beehive thing” at its back to protect itself. They have a tall nose to smell the black bananas.” 
– Darius

We speculate about how
the bees travel through the
classroom. We follow the bee steps. We bring clipboards and pencils to map the travel of the bees.

The children pay attention to our walk to the compost bin through the perspective of the “bees.”

We continue through the front yard…

“I know where they went. To the front yard!”, calls Malik. “You can’t see them because they camouflaged to the trees!”

We return to the classroom and study our bee maps when Chrissy proposes the question, “who else lives in the compost bin?

We bring this question back to the group to think together about what other life exists inside the compost bin.

The children pay attention to our walk to the compost bin through the perspective of the “bees.”

“The bees wait of the fence waiting for us to leave so they can follow us.” – Cindy

“They follow the fence but they might go through the crack and get lost.” – Cameron

Don notices the holes in the parking curbs that we always walk along. “The bees dig a hole before going to the beehive. They did too many holes, 10 holes.”

Life Inside the Compost Bin

“Worms” – Emmanuel

“Food scraps and newspaper” – Chrissy

“Leaves” – Cameron

“There’s goo” – Pierre

“The food scraps got squished. The bees
squished them” – Cameron

“They squished the black bananas.” – Pierre

“Because they wanted to eat the goo. They’re eating the food scraps.” – Cameron

Pedagogical Gestures

Through this inquiry, children attended to the decomposition and transformation processes of food waste. Studying transformation processes brings visibility to the life of food outside of human consumption. Children think with the life that decomposition creates rather than seeing food waste as garbage and no longer alive.