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Sustainable Eating

9, 10
Essential questions
What exactly is food, and what are some of the different reasons we value it?
What are some common farming practices, and how sustainable are they?
What are some possible solutions to food-related challenges?
How much do we as consumers know about the foods we eat?
What are some ways a reimagined food label could better inform the consumer about the health and environmental impacts of a food item?
What is the value of a farmers’ market?
How can we use human ingenuity and innovation to design solutions to lessen the impacts of food production and consumption?
How do modern animal farms support human demands for meat?
How can we evolve agriculture to feed the human population in a way that supports and does not degrade animals and the environment?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: 101 Fundamentals: Food (Estimated time needed: One 55-minute session)
In this lesson, students learn important concepts related to food, including what it is made of, how we consume it, and the impact our consumption has on our health and the environment. The focal point of the lesson is an in-depth presentation in which students encounter and discuss each of the key concepts. They cultivate a well-rounded understanding of the topic by exploring the concepts together through micro and macro perspectives.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Farm-Fresh Foods (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore the benefits of buying locally grown foods. They divide into groups to review issues associated with food, in six different categories: transportation, waste, retailing, quality, the community, and the economy. Then they use what they’ve learned to pitch ideas for an advertising campaign to promote local farmers’ markets. The Extend ideas provide further opportunities for students to get involved in the local food community and help advocate for local farmers.

Lesson 3: Eco-Activity: What Am I Eating? (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students role-play nutritionists and designers who have been hired by a government agency to rethink how processed foods are labeled. They consider how our ability to make healthy food choices is influenced by the way the ingredients and nutritional value of foods are listed on food labels. They also consider how our food choices might change if a label revealed the environmental impact of the food’s production and transportation processes, as well as disposal options for the packaging. Students then work together to design a new, improved food label with a rating system to help consumers make healthier choices and to encourage healthy, sustainable food production.

Lesson 4: Eco-101: Animal Farms (Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students learn how humanity’s close relationship with domestic animals and our use of animals for food has evolved and changed over thousands of years. Today, the consumption of meat by humans follows a clear pattern of economic growth: richer countries eat more meat than poorer ones. Students examine the example of the United States—which has one of the highest rates of meat-consumption—and how industrial animal feeding operations support the high per-person meat-consuming habits of its residents. Students also examine how growing concerns about animal welfare and the environment are now causing Americans to consume less meat and to call for more humane conditions for farm animals. Students then take on the role of an investigative journalist and work in groups to learn more about the sustainable and unsustainable practices used in the chicken, beef, pork, turkey, and fish industries.

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