Where Does Our Food Travel?
  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
      2. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.

Students explore the distance that food travels and compare the nutritional value, cost, and environmental sustainability of buying locally compared to buying foods that travel a long distance. They identify hunger as an issue of the common good.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will

  • compare foods from a typical U.S. diet to their own diet.
  • compare and contrast packaged foods to local, natural foods in cost, nutrition, availability, and environmental impact.
  • identify hunger and food security as an issue of the common good, which can be addressed by individuals and the nonprofit sector.

Internet access to display to the whole group


Menzel, Peter, and Faith D'Alusio. Hungry Planet. Publisher: Material World (September 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0984074422, ISBN-13: 978-0984074426 or Time Magazine images from Hungry Planet: https://time.com/8515/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/

Tag Galaxy http://www.taggalaxy.com/

USDA Food Guide Pyramid https://www.fns.usda.gov/team-nutrition 
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Go to Tag Galaxy at http://www.taggalaxy.com/and type in the topic of "hunger." Click around the globe to view images related to hunger. Compare and contrast the different images. Ask, "Can you identify the continents they may be from? Why are the pictures so different? What conclusions can you draw about the access and availability of food globally? What do food and diet have to do with global health? In what ways are we responsible for promoting global health?"

  2. Return to the pictures from lesson one at https://time.com/8515/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/, and look specifically at the ones that represent the U.S.: North Carolina and California. Ask students to identify the image that best represents their diet. Have the young people identify healthy and unhealthy choices in the image. Compare the food in the picture to the food pyramid groups (Grains, Vegetables, Fruit, Meat and Beans, Milk, etc.): https://www.fns.usda.gov/team-nutrition

  3. Discuss whether the image displays a healthy diet for a family. The discussion may include the following:

    • balance of foods from the food guide categories
    • fresh foods rather than packaged foods
    • enough food to maintain growth and well-being
  4. Discuss which foods could be purchased locally and which foods probably traveled a long distance. Ask young people if they know where their food comes from. Discuss who produces their food and whether they know the producer.

  5. Working as a group, develop a flow chart showing the journey that food goes through from producer to their table. Include how far food travels and what processes it goes through (including packaging, distribution, and transportation).

  6. Have students think, pair, and share around the following questions: How does packaging and transportation affect the nutrition of food? How does packaging and transportation of food affect the environment? How does packaging and transportation affect the cost and availability of food? (This may require some research on the Internet.)

  7. Ask, "Have you ever been part of a food collection or drive, and why?" Talk about families in your own community that do not have access to the quantity and quality of food they need to be healthy. Discuss how the lack of access to food is an issue of the common good, not just aconcern of the families in need. Discuss local programs they can work with to help these families get access to healthy food.