Teaching Young People about Foodprints
Young people are ready to learn that whether it’s a salad, a juicy burger or their morning bowl of cereal, food comes from somewhere and has an impact on the environment, on animals and on people. Our “foodprint” is the result of everything it takes to get food from the farm to our plates. But it doesn’t take much to learn a little bit more about where our food comes from and how it got to us, or to learn how to choose products and practices that do less harm to the environment, animals and people.
To help foster learning about the concept of a foodprint, we have pulled together lessons, activities, book suggestions, video links and easy-to-understand graphics for all different ages and gathered from expert organizations who specialize in teaching young people about food, the environment, animal welfare, food justice and more.
Use these resources over a week, over a month or over however long you’d like, as an after school “elective” or just some weekend fun. Consider completing this “curriculum” by doing our “Reduce Your FoodPrint” 4-Week Challenge. We’ve even included merit badges for each section. Your child or student can “unlock” each downloadable badge by completing that unit and decoding the message using our cryptogram.
Ready to start learning about foodprints? Take a look at an introduction to each unit below and be sure to download the full set of resources including book recommendations, movies to watch, activities to complete and much more.
UNIT 1: The Story Behind Your Food: What’s a “FoodPrint”?
Food comes from somewhere besides a store. But it’s easy for young people not to know that. Or to believe everything on their plates comes from happy, small, family farms. The first step for any person learning about our food system is to realize it’s a system and to start digging a little deeper into where their food comes from.
UNIT 2: Animal Welfare
The main way in which we produce meat, eggs and other animal products has turned animals into units of production in a factory. Animals in so-called “factory farms” are treated terribly, subject to awful living conditions and cruel deaths.
UNIT 3: Environmental Impacts of the Industrial Food System
Industrial food production takes a tremendous toll on our soil, air and water and is a driver of climate change.
UNIT 4: Who Makes Your Food?
The production of most of our food, from fruits and vegetables to meat and eggs, relies on human labor. The work is hard and largely underpaid and undervalued.
Learn more with the resources for Unit 4, including StoryCorps and Real Food Media audio segments, a short paper by FoodPrint on Labor and Workers in the Food System and more. Download the full set of resources above.
UNIT 5: The Importance of Local Food
Food that is produced locally has a smaller foodprint. Purchasing locally-grown food helps support local farms — and therefore the local economy — and maintains farmland and open spaces in your community. This unit also includes information about growing your own food.
UNIT 6: Food Waste
America wastes roughly 40 percent of its food. Of the estimated 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes to waste every year, much of it is perfectly edible and nutritious. Some is lost on the farm, some is lost in transportation, some in restaurants— but a whole lot is also wasted at home.
UNIT 7: Food Packaging
As our landfills and waterways are increasingly clogged with single-use plastic packaging like plastic bags, Styrofoam food containers, disposable coffee cups and more, it’s clear that the convenience of food packaging is outweighed by the waste and pollution that the packaging leaves behind.
Top photo by arrowsmith2/ AdobeStock.