Sunday, March 21, 2010

5 Weeks Left to Earth Day! Week 12: Food Audit!

Locavore was the Oxford American Dictionary word of the year in 2007; it means someone who eats food grown within 100 miles of where they live! 

I was invited to a wonderful fund raising event this week, where all the food served was local; the envent was inspired by the Earth Charter's encouragement to live in a sustainable manner by reducing our carbon footprint in every aspect of our lives.

We have become spoiled by the ubiquitous availability of foods from all over the world; strawberries anytime, avocados, grapefruit, blueberries, lettuce, absolutely anything we so desire can be purchased throughout the year.  In days gone by our bodies were attuned to the foods that were seasonal; in the cooler months root vegetables might have been the staple with fewer fruits and berries, while summer months were celebrated with these luscious delights.

I am not saying that we have to become completely reliant on locally grown or seasonal food, but I am recommending making an effort to learn about it and support it if you can, and in the process I think you will discover the benefits!  I do think it is important and relevant to their health, to educate children about where their food comes from and the environmental costs incurred therein.
Lesson Plans
1.  Food Audit!  This activity can be a geography, science and math lesson too, since children will lean about different places and their topography as well as calculating distances.  The complexity of your project will depend upon the grade level of participating children.  Invite children to research some or all of following questions about one meal:
·      What country, State or Province, did each item on your plate come from?
·      How many miles/kilometers did each item travel?
·      What kind of transportation was used to bring the food to the store/market?
·      Map out the entire journey – from the fields, to the transportation, to the store/market – of how the food arrived on your table.  This can be done as a drawing, painting or a collage;
·      What people were involved in bringing the food to your table? Who grew it, picked it, cleaned it, packed it and finally cooked it!
·      What animals did the food come from? How were they kept? Did they live outside, in a barn, in a cage?  Did they have a god quality of life?
·      Calculate the total miles/kilometers that all the food for one meal has travelled.
Once you have done all or part of this process, discuss the findings with your students and see what ideas they might have for minimizing the environmental costs.  A greater discussion might be how we could a better quality of life for the animals that are eaten and also for the farmers and the workers who grow, pick and transport our food.

2.  With older students, watch the film Food Inc.  Under the Multimedia section of their website there is a Discussion Guide.

Brain Over Brawn – this article by David Suzuki is worth the read; he reminds us that while we might have the technology that allows us to cull previously unattainable harvests from the ocean we should beware of acting without thinking of the consequences!  Every single living organism on this earth is connected in some way to everything else.  Some might like to think that humans have superiority over nature, but I think that we would be foolish to court this line of thinking, for in the end it might lead to our own demise. 
A story about greed: Two Brothers, Two Rewards 
Well, I figure it could be  No Sugar, No Fries! – I wrote this not just about eating healthy food, but also to encourage us to cook again!

Green Action of the Week
See if you can have at least one meal that is completely made up of food that comes from within one hundred miles of where you live.  This might be kind of difficult for those of you coming out of the winter months, so if you live in a colder climate then the food should be from within your country.  Having said that, even in Montreal, Quebec, I am sure I could make up a meal of local eggs, cheese, meat, fish, potatoes, squash and probably some carrots!  Then of course there are preserves; last summer I might have made up jars of cherries, strawberries or peaches, and I might have dried some apples and grapes for raisins!

I hope this Post is helpful to you and that you are having some interesting lessons, discussions and discoveries with your children, students, families or just yourself!  Wishing you a beautiful Spring! As the light comes in, may your days be filled with beauty and joy.
In gratitude to life and this precious Earth!

Article about Environmental Costs of Shipping Food
Environmental costs of Meat production
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle  – Barbara Kingsolver
The Zero-mile Diet– A Year-round Guide to Growing Organic Food
Photos By Rosie Emery and the US Dept. Agriculture

1 comment:

  1. Rosie,

    What an awesome post! So thorough! Thanks for bringing to to our attention. We have been trying to buy things grown by our local farmers. I love when the grocery store even has signs..."grown by local farmers".

    Wendy @Kidlutions =)