GEDB Feeding the World: From Field to Table (Lesson 5 of 12)
In this lesson, students explore the processes involved in getting food from the farm to the table. Note: This lesson was created in accordance with the VIF Global Competence Indicators for Grade 4. For more information about VIF and these indicators, please visit https://www.vifprogram.com/. This lesson was developed by Brenda Todd as part of their completion of the North Carolina Global Educator Digital Badge program. This lesson plan has been vetted at the local and state level for standards alignment, Global Education focus, and content accuracy.
In this lesson, students explore the processes involved in getting food from the farm to the table. Note: This lesson was created in accordance with the VIF Global Competence Indicators for Grade 4. For more information about VIF and these indicators, please visit https://www.vifprogram.com/.
Share with students these facts and statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:
- Not everyone has adequate access to the food they need, and this has led to large-scale hunger and malnutrition in the world.
- Nearly 800 million people today are chronically undernourished and unable to obtain sufficient food to meet even minimum energy needs.
- Approximately 200 million children under five years of age suffer from acute or chronic symptoms of malnutrition; during seasonal food shortages, and in times of famine and social unrest, this number increases.
- The vast majority of the undernourished people live in Asia and the Pacific.
- Putting an end to hunger necessarily starts with ensuring that enough food is produced and available for everyone. However, simply growing enough food does not guarantee the elimination of hunger. Access by all people at all times to enough nutritionally adequate and safe food for an active and healthy life – food security must be guaranteed.
Ask students: How does this make you feel about families being hungry and the way many of us may waste food? What happens if food doesn’t get produced on time and to the store?
Additional questions for discussion:
- How does food from the farm arrive to your table?
- What are the steps food takes to get there?
- Where are foods like oats, peas, beans, and wheat grown?
- What do farmers do first with their seeds?
- What do seeds need in order to grow?
- What kinds of things do farmers need to do to grow their crops?
- What are 3 things we need to make sure happens so no one is hungry?
Learning Targets and Criteria for Success
I can read and analyze selections (informational text and literature) in order to identify the 5 steps in the process of getting food from field to table.
Criteria for Success:
I will create a brochure illustrating the 5 steps in the process of getting food from field to table.
- Computers / internet-accessible devices for student use
- SMARTBoard™ or other Interactive Whiteboard or Projector
- Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
- Printed copies of “The Story of Miguel’s Tomatoes” from http://www.fao.org/3/a-y2735e.pdf
- Document camera (optional)
Learning Tasks and Practice
- Why are people hungry around the world?
- What steps are there in getting food from the field/tree to the table?
- What needs to happen in order that everyone has the food they need?
- What can you do to change things so no one goes hungry?
- How do people in other countries get their food from the field to the table?
Investigate and Analyze
Help students to understand that hunger exists because the process of getting food is complex, and the system can break down at any point. Before we can solve the problem of hunger, we must understand where food originates and the processes that some foods go through before we eat them.
Prior to the lesson, have students complete the “Food Homework Sheet” (attached as a resource file). When students return with their charts completed with information, discuss which foods grow above ground, below ground, on trees, or come from animals, etc.
Provide students with text selections from the “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” publication.
- Selection 1: “Content” statements, p. 37
- Selection 2: “Content” statements, p. 62
- Selection 3: “Content” statements, p. 46
Have students discuss the selections in small groups.
Point out to students that 3 things happen to food that involve many processes and people:
- Production involves growing the food on a farm.
- Processing is what happens to the food once it is ready to be picked. This is when oranges become juiced and their juices are put into a carton or bottle or juice from concentrate is put in a can.
- Transportation involves taking the food to the store or market. Transportation is the importing and exporting of foods.
Have students list some positions with ties to food getting from farms to table including:
- Agriculture suppliers
- Extension workers
- Farmers and farm workers
- Truck drivers
- Food handlers
- Millers and bakers
- Transportation Planners
Ask: What are some other considerations?
- Weather, roads and economic and political stability can influence getting the foods.
- The number of steps may change depending on each community and family.
Talk about the breakdown of any of the stages.
- Home gardens increase security by providing sufficient food for the family as well as income from the extra foods that might be sold.
- Small farms and home gardening may decrease the complexity of the process or eliminate some steps such as moving, processing or selling.
- Home gardeners still depend on others for needs like seeds, tools, fertilizer, milling of grain or rental of land and farm equipment.
- All farms are affected by weather conditions.
- Lack of money, supplies and land are also factors in affecting these steps.
Read “The Story of Miguel’s Tomatoes,” which can be found on p. 93 of the “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” publication. Ask children to think of the steps in the story while they are listening to you read it. Older students could read on their own or in small groups. Illustrate how food is grown, transported and processed. Discussion can get more complex and detailed with questions like the following: What would happen if things went wrong? (Possible student responses: Too much rain, no rain. Miguel might get sick. The truck broke down and tomatoes spoiled.) Talk about the breakdown of any of the steps.
Ask students the questions on the handout “Reading Analysis – The Story of Miguel’s Tomatoes” (attached as a resource file). Have students respond whether it is Step 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, after reading the story.
Synthesize and Create
Students will become farmers and pick their own food/crops to grow. Students will create a brochure and answer the following questions about the stages of their crop. Younger students may set up a large piece of construction paper folded into six parts and put one stage in each or draw the steps for the farmer to get produce from field to table. Older students may do same with more details or create a power point presentation on computer for technology use.
Students could also choose their own way to share the information such as a video clip, skit, etc. (Students need to research their crop to see what it needs before completing the project.)
There are 5 stages so in the sixth box they can draw a picture of where their crop is growing in the extra box. They could draw a row for the different life stages of the crop. Remind them that there are crops grown on trees, underground crops, and above ground crops not grown on trees.
Stage 1—Getting ready to grow food:
- What would you need to begin growing a crop? Do not give them answers (deciding what to grow, will you group more than one crop, seeds, fertilizer, plow, tools, and land)
- What would happen if these were not available?
- Could you grow the crop without these supplies?
Stage 2- Growing the food:
- What would you need for the crop to grow? Do not give answers (Sunshine, rain, his hands or tools to work, weed and care for the crop (labor), understanding about growing the food, the land and agriculture knowledge)
- Could your crop grow if you didn’t have these available?
- What would happen if there were too much rain or not enough?
- How would you learn about growing the crop?
- What would you need to be aware of?
Stage 3 Moving food from the field:
- After gathering/picking, harvesting the crop where was the crop moved? (to your home for eating or to be frozen/canned for later use) (to a farmer’s market) (rest to food processing factory)
- How far did the crop travel for your dinner from the field to table?
- How far did it travel to get to the market or food processing factory? How did the food travel- make the journey? ( cart, truck, car, animal)
- What would happen if the transportation broke down on the way?
- What if you could not find a way to transport the crop?
Stage 4 – Processing, Selling and Transporting the Crop:
- How would you process the crop at your home? Would you eat it right then? Store it? Can/Freeze it for later?
- If you have extra, how would you go about selling the ones you don’t keep?
- Would they be sold another time to someone else how would they go about finding a buyer? Would it be exported to another country? Sent to another state?
- What happened to the food at the processing factory?
- How did it get to the second buyer? (train, truck, ship)
- Did it come from another country? If so where and how did it arrive at your table?
Stage 5 – Eating the Food:
- You only grew one crop or it didn’t grow at all and now you need to buy food from someone else. How will you get money to buy yourself some food?
- How will you make sure the food is safe and choose foods that will be healthy?
- How would the food be different if it went to the processing plant?
- How would you cook and prepare the food?
Students will share their presentations in small groups.
Students will be presented with content via various technological media.
Students may use technology tools to gather information and/or present information for the final product.
Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Learning
- Monitoring of student discussions
- Checklist to track student participation and responses to questions posed throughout the lesson
- Answers to Reading Analysis questions
- Brochures/Presentations (Rubric – Lesson 5 provided as an attached resource file)
Student Self-Reflection and Action Steps
Ask students questions like the following: What did you learn about the need for food to be available, accessible and used for everyone so no one is hungry? What would you change about the lesson? What was the best?
The gradual release model is suggested for use with this unit. In this model, the teacher demonstrates the work/skill, then the teachers and the students work together, then the students work together, then the students work independently. Because students have many opportunities to practice the skill/concept, the teacher has ample time to assess understanding and address student misconceptions.
A variety of instructional activities are also used in order to meet the learning needs of diverse students.
Remediation, if needed, would be through ongoing discussions (both teacher-student and student-student) and extending or repeating during a new lesson as some lessons build on others.
Extended Learning Opportunities
Students can view additional media that demonstrate the farm to table process.
Teacher Reflection of Learning
Students were able to make a connection to a family through the story Miquel’s Tomato and see how a small farmer can produce food for their family and also sell some to make money. My students that had Hispanic backgrounds really enjoyed the story. They connected with the people. All students talked about gardens they had seen or had and what they grew. Most had not sold to others and none had to transport to different places and no one had knowledge of how foods were processed in the processing plants. The discussion of how early settlers only grew enough for themselves and a few others nearby and how large farms now grow so much. A few brought of the signs and commercials about buying locally grown produce and why there is a push to do this. I think this would be a good discussion topic to extend further from their interest in it. Some had parents that bought organic foods while others brought very little fresh fruits and vegetables because of cost. Their mom said,” it cost to much.”