Where Does Our Food Come From? Our Favourite Ag & Food System Resources

One of the goals of the Little Green Thumbs garden is to help students create meaningful, informed connections between the food they grow and eat, and the agricultural processes involved in producing it.

One of the goals of the Little Green Thumbs garden is to help students create meaningful, informed connections between the food they grow and eat, and the agricultural processes involved in producing it.

School gardens are being used across Canada to help young people understand and appreciate the industry that grows, processes, and delivers safe, abundant food to us every day.

We understand that food lies at the heart of some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic issue. We are thrilled that, at the same time, food offers some of the most engaging educational opportunities for youth. Food production today is a complicated process that can be difficult for young students to understand, and the food system may seem even more opaque. In a vast sea of mixed messages about food, farming, and nutrition, learning more about our food system is key to making informed food-related decisions that have the power to improve personal health and the economic, social, and environmental well-being of our communities.

Teaching about the ‘food system’ can also seem overwhelming, and rightly so! The food system spans the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment, which can make for engaging and challenging learning opportunities. The complex nature of our food system can make it a difficult study for younger and even older learners, without a dedicated unit of study.

We’ve compiled some of our favourite resources that you can use to make a connection between your garden to the larger food system and agriculture! Don’t forget to check our your provincial Agriculture in the Classroom, who each have curriculum-linked, balanced and accurate resources – often at no cost!

Teacher Resources

Growing Food

by the Columbia University Teacher’s College

The first module in the LiFE curriculum (Linking Food and the Environment). In this inquiry-based curriculum, you and your students embark on an exciting adventure — learning science through the study of our fascinating food production system. Students learn about cycles in nature, flow of energy, and food systems while engaging in hands-on investigations of photosynthesis, food webs, agriculture, and more. Developed by educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, Growing Food is the first module in the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series.

GRADES 4-6

French Fries and the Food System

by the Food Project

This year­-round curriculum provides kids from varied backgrounds a fertile environment in which they can develop an appreciation for the close links between farming and food systems. Lessons range from practical, hands­ on activities to social and economic aspects of the food cycle. The lessons and activities are organized by seasons. This book is an excellent resource for classroom and community educators.

HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL

Farm to Table & Beyond

by the Teachers College Columbia University

The second module in the LiFE curriculum (Linking Food and the Environment). In the Farm to Table & Beyond module, students learn science through the study of food systems. The module’s driving question—What is the system that gets food from farm to table and how does this system affect the environment?—frames students’ investigations of our complex and highly technological, global food system. Students develop an understanding of systems and examine the interacting parts of the food system.

GRADES 5-6

Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils

by Elizabeth Patten & Kathy Lyons. Tilbury House Publishers 2007.

Help children understand how their food choices affect not only their own health, but also farmers, the environment, and your local community. This book invites you and your students to discover where food comes from, how our bodies use food, and what happens to food waste. You’ll participate in the ecological cycle of food production, compost formation, and recycling back to the soil.

K-6

FoodSpan

by John Hopkins University

This free, downloadable curriculum provides high school students with a deep understanding of critical food system issues, empowers them to make healthy and responsible food choices, and encourages them to become advocates for food system change.

HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL

Nourish Food Systems Curriculum

The Nourish Curriculum Guide offers a rich set of resources to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability. Beautifully designed and brimming with big ideas, the materials contain a viewing guide, seven learning activities, student handouts, a bibliography, and a glossary.

K-12

Children’s Literature

How Did that Get in My Lunchbox

by Chris Butterworth

We love the short illustrated book ‘How Did That Get in my Lunchbox’ by Chris Butterworth. This read-aloud book helps elementary students (best for grade 2-4) explore how common lunchbox foods are produced, how these foods get to their plate, and explore the question ‘Where does our food come from?’. Making the connection between food and where it comes from can lead to healthier eating choices, a better appreciation for agriculture and an understanding of a student’s own connection to the larger food system. We’ve compiled some discussion questions to diver deeper into the lessons and learning presented in this book, as well as some printable activities for students to explore food chain activities for their lunchbox foods. Check them out here!

Before we Eat: From Farm to Table

by Patt Brisson, Mary Azarian

Milk doesn’t just appear in your refrigerator, or apples on your kitchen counter. Before we eat, many people must work very hard planting grain, catching fish, tending animals, and filling crates. In this book, vibrantly illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian, readers find out what must happen before food can get to our table to nourish our bodies and spirits.

PB & J Hooray! Your Sandwiches Amazing Journey from Farm to Table

By Janet Nolan

From peanut, grape, and wheat seeds to sandwich, PB & J Hooray! is all about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are made. The story begins with the kitchen and works backward to the shopping, delivery, production, harvesting, farming, and planting processes! In fun, rhythmic language, readers discover how peanuts become peanut butter, grapes are made into jelly, and wheat turns into bread.

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