Why Eat Organic? (9th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

The learner will develop an awareness of organic/sustainable foods as an alternative, earth-friendly way to eat. This lesson encourages the learners to evaluate their choices when they and their families purchase food products. Students identify how organic/sustainable foods contribute to their health as well as the health of our world.

PrintOne 50 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast organic/sustainable food products to conventional food products.
  • identify the benefits of eating organic/sustainable food products.
  • identify the "opportunity costs" involved in purchasing organic/sustainable food products as opposed to conventional food products.
  • define and articulate how environmental stewardship, common good, responsibility, and social action are involved in purchasing organic/sustainable food products.
  • develop a persuasive statement encouraging others to purchase earth-friendly and health-friendly food products.
  • plan an Earth Day Event that promotes environmental stewardship and personal health.
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables representing both organic/sustainable as well as conventional products (Keep price tags on, if possible.)
  • Online access with projector (or student on line access)
  • Downloaded copies of Why Buy Sustainable? for each learner.
  • A copy of Handout One: How Does This All Connect? for each group of three students
Teacher Preparation 

Prior to the start of this class period, obtain some fruits and vegetables from a local food store (celery, carrots, apples, bananas, etc.). Purchase two of each item--one organic, one non organic. Keep price tags on or record the purchase price of each item.


What if nonorganic foods had to be labeled with warning labels, and local organic food was unlabeled?



  1. Anticipatory Set: Set out the fruits and vegetables so students can see them clearly, or walk around the seated students with the foods on a tray. Ask the class if they see any differences between the two packages of celery or the two apples or other pairs of foods. Students may notice some small differences in appearance, but they may not think there is much difference between the two. Tell the students that the big difference between these fruits and vegetables is related to how they were grown. Write the words organic and sustainable on the display board.

  2. Have the learners share their prior knowledge of these words. Define organic as "without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides." Define sustainable as "a method of using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged."

  3. Help the learners make a connection between these two words. (Sustainable methods of farming produce organic foods.)

  4. Have the learners share why they think organic foods might be better to eat than non organic foods. Record their ideas on the display board.

  5. Distribute the article entitled "Why Buy Sustainable?" Have the learners read this article and compare it to the list of their ideas recorded on the display board. Discuss the comparisons.

  6. Write the costs of each purchased fruit and vegetable on the display board. If necessary, have the students convert the prices to obtain price per pound so they can compare the prices. They will find that the organic foods are more expensive. Wash your hands before cutting up the foods. Have the students taste the different fruits and vegetables. Discuss the differences in price and taste.

  7. Explain the "opportunity cost" of buying one or the other: When they purchase the more expensive food, they lose the opportunity to spend that extra money on something else. When they purchase the less expensive item, they lose the benefits of the organically grown food. Buyers have to decide if the benefits of buying organic outweigh the extra cost. Have them respond to the question, “Why might a consumer choose not to buy sustainable/organic agriculture products?" Be sensitive and nonjudgmental about choices families make.

  8. Write the following words on the display board: environmental stewardship, common good, responsibility, and social action. Have the learners share what they know of these words and guide them as they define them. Environmental stewardship is the care and responsible management of the environment. Common good involves individual citizens promoting the welfare of the community (even if they must sacrifice their own time, personal preferences, or money) to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all. Responsibility is being answerable for one's actions or the actions of others. Social action is the process of doing or acting for the general welfare of all.

  9. When the students understand these terms, split them into groups of three and give each group a copy of Handout One: How Does This All Connect? Tell them to follow the directions on this handout and be prepared to share their statements with the rest of the class.

  10. After each group has shared its persuasive statement, open a group discussion by asking the learners with whom they would like to share this message and why.

  11. Conclude this lesson by brainstorming and devising a strategy (or strategies) for sharing this information.


Assess the learners based on their classroom participation and group work.

Cross Curriculum 

Students volunteer at a local organic farm and advocate for healthy eating in an area where their efforts may make an impact on community health.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Explain how <i>opportunity cost</i> relates to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
      3. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Compare and contrast opportunities for students to improve the common good to the opportunities available to students in other countries.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.