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An Experiential Learning Program

For Young and Inquiring Minds

Rachel Kennedy

Jennifer L. Wilkins, PhD., R.D., Senior Extension Associate,


Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

Marcia Eames-Sheavly, M.S., Senior Extension Associate,


Department of Horticulture, Cornell University

April 2003
An Experiential Learning Program
For Young and Inquiring Minds

Table of Contents
Funding and Acknowledgements
Program Overview -- Who, What, Why, When, Where and How of Discovering the
Food System

Goals and Objectives

Organization of the Program

A Primer on Community Food Systems


Section 1: You and Your Food System
Introduction

Lesson 1: Food and You


Introduction:
Activity 1: The Power of Pyramids
Activity 2: There’s a Reason for the Season
Activity 3: The School Lunch Laboratory
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background material

Lesson 2: Food System Basics


Introduction
Activity 1: From Field to Table
Activity 2: Steps in the Food System
Activity 3: Food Thread
Activity 4: Food For Thought Journal
Going Further
Background
Lesson 3: Think Globally, Eat Locally
Introduction
Activity 1: Defining the terms “local,” “regional,” and “global”
Activity 2: Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison
Activity 3: Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison Follow-
Up
Activity 4: Miles in Your Breakfast
Activity 5: Food For Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Lesson 4: Food Labels and the Food System


Introduction
Activity 1: Reading Food Labels
Activity 2: Food System Labels
Activity 3: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Lesson 5: Food System Challenges [in development]


Introduction
Activity 1: Food Product Development
Activity 2: Food Advertising
Activity 3: Community Poverty and the Food System
Activity 4: Health Food Costs
Activity 5: Food Bank Simulation
Activity 6: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Section 2: Discovering The Food System Project

Introduction

Step 1. Finding Food System Facts


Introduction
Activity 1: Preparing for the search
Activity 2: Developing your search
Activity 3: Searching for specific food system data
Activity 4: Wrapping up the search
Activity 5: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Step 2: Learning from People in the Food System


Introduction
Activity 1: Putting People in the Food System
Activity 2: Identifying people in the Food System
Activity 3: Developing interview topics
Activity 4: Deciding how to interview
Activity 5: Preparing for the interview
Activity 6: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Step 3: Community Survey – Getting Ready


Introduction
Activity 1: Choosing the topic
Activity 2: Choosing a survey sample
Activity 3: Preparing a Food System survey
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Step 4: Conducting a Community Survey


Introduction
Activity 1: Distributing the Questionnaire
Activity 2: Sharing the Results
Activity 3: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Step 5: Sharing Food System Stories with Your Community


Introduction
Activity 1: Presenting the Food System Facts
Activity 2: Presenting the Interview Experiences
Activity 3: Presenting the Survey Results
Activity 4: Reaching Out
Activity 5: Wrapping Up
Activity 6: Food for Thought Journal
Going Further
Background

Glossary
Discovering the Food System:
An Experiential Learning Program
For Young and Inquiring Minds
Funding and Acknowledgments

Funding
We would like to acknowledge generous support from the Cooperative States
Research Education and Extension Service for the development and pilot
testing of this resource. This project is one of several underway in the Division
of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and is supported by a Special
Grant (99-34324-8120) entitled "Individual Differences in Setting and Meeting
Nutritional Requirements." This grant supports a number of research projects
that focus on a broad range of issues of relevance to setting and meeting
nutritional requirements. Areas of investigation range from improving our
understanding of the key roles of nutrients at the molecular level to the
development of improved strategies to enable consumers to adopt newly
created knowledge easily and effectively. At the community nutrition level, the
grant supports developing an increased understanding of the issues related to
food insecurity among the elderly in the U.S., the use of a distance-learning
strategy linking nutrition and dietetics practitioners with university
researchers, and the development of educational programs and tools to
promote positive dietary change and food system sustainability. This project
addresses the last of these community nutrition aims.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the teachers and students who
participated in the pilot testing of this educational resource. We would
especially like to thank the home school students for their valuable insights
and the Cooperative Extension educators for providing county-based
coordination. (Pilot testers, grad students involved, CCE contacts.)
Several graduate students have been involved in the development of this
resource at various stages. Shannon Hayes provided excellent support in the
formative focus group interviews, coordinated much of the pilot testing of
lesson activities and assisted in revisions to the lessons. Nicole LaDue added
many creative ideas that turned into activities for the lessons. Three graduate
students from the Cornell University Department of Education, Annalisa Lewis
Raymer, Laura Torbert, and Amy Bonn also provided much enthusiastic
assistance, support and creativity to the development and pilot testing of the
lessons.

Gwen Beck, a Lansing Middle School teacher, was most generous and helpful
in the development of this experiential learning program. She opened her 6th
grade science class to us as a place to try out lessons and activities. Many
thanks to her students who made us believe we were on the right track.

We’d like to thank Andra Benson, Peter Signor, Stephen Ast, Jacoba Baker,
Shirley Cuykendall, and John Bender for giving of their time and telling their
food system stories to groups of Gwen Beck’s students. We thank them for
sharing so much about the work they do in their part of the food system and
for responding so earnestly to the questions the students had prepared for
them.

We also acknowledge the contributions provided by Anne Meyer-Wilber whose


expertise in learning standards and lesson activity development and evaluation
has been invaluable to the project. Finally, conversion of this tool into a widely
accessible web based-educational resource was facilitated with careful editing
by Jennifer Watkins, and technical expertise of Craig Cramer. The cover
graphic/website logo is by Rachel Kennedy.
Overview
WHO is Discovering the Food System for? This guided experiential learning
program is designed primarily for youth ages 12 to 18. Given the potential
level of complexity involved in conducting a community research project
(Part 2) and the community action it may inspire, elements of this program
may also be suitable for some undergraduate college level courses.

But really, Discovering the Food System is meant for anyone who is curious
about food, how it gets from farm to table, and how we, as eaters, are
involved in that system. Such people with inquiring minds might be:

• a traditional student working with a teacher to develop an enrichment


project. This could also be an independent team project that students
could work within a block format.
• Home school students and their parent-teachers
• Alternative school students working independently
• Community-minded groups like the 4-H, service minded groups, Boy
Scouts or Girl Scouts.
• Anyone interested in food!
WHAT is Discovering the Food System? Discovering the Food System is a
guided discovery of the food system. This experiential process of discovery
is grounded in the places we live, eat, work, learn, and play.
With Discovering the Food System, we will use our own "backyards" -- the
school cafeteria, local food stores, nearby canneries, restaurants and farms
-- as our laboratory for learning about the food system. In this way the food
system will move from the abstract to the real.
Through experiential learning activities, we will meet real people that
represent different parts or aspects of the food system - farmers, grocers,
restaurateurs, processors, and marketers, as well as community citizens,
who eat, just like us.
Discovering the Food System provides a basic understanding of the food
system and our connection to that system through the choices we make
every day.
Because this experiential learning program promotes an in-depth
understanding of our own community food system, what is learned can be
applied directly in local actions for community change. We can become
involved in community action by asking questions, seeking answers and
drawing conclusions about possible alternatives within our communities.
Through the Discovering the Food System program, we will meet people in
our local and possibly distant food system, explore the differences between a
"community" and a "global" food system, and learn ways in which the food
we eat and the food system are interrelated.

WHY do we need Discovering the Food System? Young people today are
hungry – hungry for food and hungry for knowledge about the world
around them. All of us, and increasingly our children, teens, and pre-
adults, have to make food purchases for ourselves and do our shopping for
our families. For teens, and even for many adults, the complexity of the
food system that feeds us is largely unknown. A walk down the aisles of
today’s supermarkets provides a glimpse into our global food system -- one
that offers consumers a safe, affordable, abundant, consistent and
convenient food supply that comes from all over the world. Lost amidst
most of the more than 30,000 food items available to shoppers is the
connection food can provide with our community, local economy and the
natural environment. Indeed, the food system is, for the most part, hidden
from view.
But the food system can be discovered by the sharp and inquiring minds of
today! By learning more about our food system we can make food choices
that improve our health and the economic, social and environmental
sustainability of our communities.
Why is food system awareness important?
We all need to eat. Our biological need to eat is met by a complex set of
interdependent processes from seed to table. This complex system depends
on a tremendous amount of resources - natural, economic, social, political.
While most of us enjoy food quite often – usually several times a day – the
larger food system is virtually invisible to us. How can we learn about the
food system? Food labels are excellent at providing nutrient content
information but, for the most part, reveal little about how food is grown,
where it was grown and processed, who was employed to grow and harvest
the crop, or what mode of transportation was used to get the food to
market. These are just some of the multitude of questions that might be
asked about a food product that, if we had the answers, would tell us a lot
more about the food system.
Another reason for our food system ignorance is that all of us, including
today’s youth, are exposed to numerous and often-conflicting messages
related to food, nutrition and the food system. In the school cafeteria, local
supermarkets and fast food restaurants we are exposed to a vast array of
food choices. The typical household has shifted from consuming food
prepared in the home to consuming quick, prepared or prepackaged foods.
As adolescents we grew up or are growing up with supermarkets and fast
food rather than homegrown and homemade food. Throughout our lives,
we have probably seen little connection between food and the setting in
which it is produced. During pilot testing of this curriculum, we asked
young people where their food comes from. Most answered, “the store.”
Through the Discovering the Food System program, we will gain an
appreciation of our relationship to the local food system and the factors
affecting food supply.

WHEN should we use Discovering the Food System? Discovering the Food
System lessons have classroom applications or "curriculum links" to
Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Music/Art and
Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS). Because of the
many links to a wide variety of subject areas, portions of Discovering the
Food System can be incorporated easily into existing curricula.

WHERE should we use Discovering the Food System? Since one of the
principles underlying the study of food systems is that food has a
connection to a specific place, the context in which Discovering the Food
System is used needs to be taken into account in a very conscious way.
Discovering the Food System is very much about place – where we live,
where we eat, where our food is grown, processed and marketed – and the
people associated with those places. To get the most out of Discovering the
Food System, we need to become familiar with the agriculture and food
system in our own geographic region - state, county, region of the country.
Most of the examples used in the lessons and the project description come
from the Northeast – the region where the curriculum was written.
However, the activities developed to engage us in learning about our food
system can be applied to any region and other countries as well.

Some basic food system questions to ask ourselves include: What crops are
grown in my area? Are there food processing businesses in my county, or
state? Where are foods that grow in my area changed (processed) into
products that I see on the supermarket shelves? Is there a farmers' market
in the town I live in? What kinds of food stores are there in my community
and where are they located? How are the foods the same and how are they
different in the different stores? Are there any community gardens in my
town, and who gardens in them? Of course, most of us are creative and
curious. So you will have many of your own interesting questions to ask
about the food system.
Your local Cooperative Extension office can be a valuable resource
throughout the Discovering the Food System program as nutrition and
agriculture educators maintain strong connections with people who grow,
market, process, prepare, serve and donate food.
HOW can we use Discovering the Food System? Discovering the Food System
is designed primarily for middle school to high school age students. Many
of the activities are suitable for grades 6 and 7 as well. While this program
was developed primarily for use in a classroom setting, several of the
activities are compatible with a variety and non-formal educational
settings, Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development programs, home
schools, school-aged childcare programs and community-based educational
environments.
Goals and Objectives:
• Learn through direct exploration about our food system.
• Engage in cooperative and inquiry-based learning with our peers.
• Enhance our awareness of the food system and foods or our region.
• Understand the links between food choices and the food system.
• Distinguish between foods that are likely to support the community food
systems and those which are less likely to do so.
• Immerse us in highly participatory, community-based experience, involving
interviewing community members and gaining information about the food
system.
• Foster relationships with our community and between the agricultural and
non-agricultural community.
Organization of the Program
Discovering the Food System is organized into two major Sections.
Section 1: You and Your Food System
This section contains instructional lessons designed to help you better
understand how nutrition, diet and the food system are connected. This
section introduces the food system components and concepts and an
overview of dietary guidelines and the food guides, and how food choices
every day influence and are influenced by the food system.
Lesson 1: Food and You introduces the dietary guidelines for Americans. It
shows how these guidelines support our health yet have little
relationship to the food system. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is
compared with the Northeast Regional Food Guide, which is designed to
promote healthful diets from foods grown and processed in the
Northeast. This lesson explores the ways that dietary guidelines and food
guides can impact upon the food system.
Lesson 2: Food System Basics introduces the concept of a system and then
the various components of the food system.
Lesson 3: Think Globally, Eat Locally introduces a comparison between
local and global food systems and the complexity involved in making
such a comparison. There are no neat distinctions between the "local," or
"community" and "global" when it comes to the food system. This lesson
asks: what do these terms mean and how should they be used to
examine the food system?
Lesson 4: Food Labels and the Food System helps you learn how to read the
Nutrition Facts food labels, and to explore "food system" information that
might also be included. What's on food labels and what is not can
provide insights into why our food system is often mysterious and hard
to know.
Section 2: Discovering The Food System Project
This section provides a guide for conducting a Discovering the Food System
project. You will be provided with tools for exploring your food system. What
you choose to focus on and the methods you use are flexible and should be
guided by your interests or those of the class, club, or after school program of
which you are a part. It is this flexibility that assures a high level of
engagement on your part. The food system discovery is accomplished through a
search of existing food system facts, interviews with people who represent the
food system and a public survey about some aspect of the food system that
interests you the most.
The program does not end with discovery, however. It also provides tools to
teach you how to share your newly obtained food system understandings with
the community with an eye for creating community change. You will learn
about the potential impact information can have on policies in a school, or in
the broader community.
Step 1: Finding Food System Facts provides tools and guidelines to locating
and understanding data that has already been collected on the food
system, and is therefore available for use and interpretation. This is very
much like the processes being used across the country to conduct
community food assessments. Also, food systems stories are frequently
in the news. You will learn about the breadth of issues that are related to
the food system that you might read about in any daily newspaper.
Step 2: Learning from People in the Food System will give you a better
understanding of your food system by interviewing some of the people
whom you will identify as being part of the food system. This step in the
food system project builds on the previous lesson by clarifying the
aspects of the food system that most interest you, identifying who is
directly involved in those aspects, and formulating questions about
issues for those most likely to have interesting insights. This step in the
Discovering The Food System Project provides an opportunity for you to
gain experience with a qualitative social science methodology: the open-
ended, in-person interview method. You will practice basic interviewing
techniques in a role play, contact community members who are part of
the food system, arrange to meet them, and finally, actually conduct in-
person interviews.
Step 3: Community Survey: Getting Ready will provide you with an
opportunity to work with a classic quantitative social science
methodology: the survey. You will identify topics that interest you (from
previous research and your interviewing experience) and design a
questionnaire.
Step 4: Conducting a Community Food System Survey will take us beyond
the design stage and into the actual survey experience. You will have the
opportunity to choose a population sample, distribute the survey and
compile the results. In doing so, you will learn how some segment of the
broader community feels about food system issues.
Step 5: Sharing Food System Stories with Your Community will help you
develop methods of taking your newly won food system knowledge and
presenting it to your local community with the eye towards community
change. You will learn how to present your food system facts, interview
experiences and survey results and how to wrap up your project
experience in a cohesive manner.
Discovering the Food System - The Lessons
• Summary
The summary is a brief paragraph to help you identify what types of
activities you will engage in for the particular lesson. It will be an
introduction to the concepts and activities that will be covered in the lesson.
• Learning Objectives
For each lesson, we have defined what we think are the most important
concepts for the you to learn. The objectives are intended as guidelines for
you to assess what you have learned upon completion of the lesson.
• Key Concepts
Each of the lessons introduces concepts that are relevant to understanding
the food system and the relationship between consumers and the food
system.
• “Getting to the Core”
Throughout this curriculum the themes being explored are applied to a
consistent example – apples. In each lesson and in each part of the project
description, how the topic applies to apples is described. For example, in
Section 1, Activity 1, we have given you information about where apples are
found on the food guide pyramids, the nutritional value of apples, and how
apples fit into a nutritious diet. These “Getting to the Core” sidebars provide
a quick and easy example of how the concepts being developed can be
applied to real food. One of the reasons we chose apples for this purpose is
that there are many varieties of apples grown and marketed in our state of
New York. I you like, you can develop your own “food thread” as you go
about discovering your food system. This food might be a potato, tomato,
strawberry or orange, or a product native to your location. Or, if you are
quite ambitious, you might chose and food product that contains more than
one food from more than one food group – yogurt for example. The
important thing is that the food that is chosen should have some meaning
and relevance to the food system that is being discovered.
• Activities
Each lesson has several activities within it. For example, to understand
what a food system is you need to be familiar with the setting of the food
system, what aspects are part of the food system, and other important basic
concepts. Therefore, each lesson will have many parts to help build a
complete concept. The activities will be numbered to help guide you through
the lesson. Also, some of the activities will have numbered steps to make
the procedure clear.
• Going Further
You may be interested in learning more and have the time for further
investigation of a topic. We have provided ideas for optional activities that
will help reinforce what you have learned in the lesson. Some of the
additional activities are also geared to help you connect with your
community before the interviewing and survey lessons.
• Background
The lessons are designed to meet the needs of a formal classroom setting as
well as a variety of non-formal educational settings. The background section
provides a discussion of important aspects of the food system on the specific
topic of the lesson. This section will help provide you with the necessary
background information to navigate the lesson. If you are a teacher using
this curriculum at a group or class level, it will provide you with the
information you need so that you are able to better educate your students
and guide discussion. Our goal to provide enough information so that you
will feel well-versed in the major issues and questions involved in discussing
lesson topics. In one or more of the lessons, it may be beneficial to use the
Internet as a resource for gaining information about the food system. In any
of the lessons that suggest the use of the Internet we have also provided
alternative non-electronic sources of the comparable information for groups
using the activities which do not have Internet access.
• Lesson Resources
Some of the lessons will guide you in investigating your local food system.
In a few of the lessons you will need to seek data about the food system. In
each lesson we will provide any resources we recommend using to obtain
data not supplied in the lesson itself. The resources might be websites,
phone numbers, or names and addresses of community organizations and
governmental agencies.
• Food for Thought Journal and other handouts
Each lesson will have a journal entry to bring the material covered in the
lesson to the context of the your day-to-day lives. In addition to the journal,
there may be other handouts that you will need to copy. Once you have
completed the worksheets you can collect them to make up a Discovering
the Food System Portfolio.
• Student Portfolio
To assess your progress through the Discovering the Food System
curriculum, we suggest collecting work produced in each of the lessons in a
Discovering the Food System Portfolio. The resulting collection will help
display how your understanding changed through the completion of all of
the lessons and will provide you with a reference packet as you prepare to
share your work with the community in the final lesson.
• Glossary
Throughout the lessons certain words and phrases appear in bold type.
These are defined in the glossary which follows Section 2.
A Primer on Community Food Systems:
Linking Food, Nutrition and Agriculture
Introduction
The term "food system" is used frequently in discussions about nutrition,
food, health, community economic development and agriculture. The food
system includes all processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting,
processing (or transforming or changing), packaging, transporting, marketing,
consuming and disposing of food and food packages. It also includes the inputs
needed and outputs generated at each step. The food system operates within
and is influenced by social, political, economic and natural environments. Each
step is also dependent on human resources that provide labor, research and
education.

Community Food Systems


Several qualifying terms have been used to describe the food system:
simple, complex, local, global and regional. A community food system is a food
system in which food production, processing, distribution and consumption are
integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional
health of a particular place. A community food system can refer to a relatively
small area, such as a neighborhood, or progressively larger areas – towns,
cities, counties, regions, or bioregions. The concept of community food systems
is sometimes used interchangeably with "local" or "regional" food systems, but
by including the word "community" there is an emphasis on strengthening
existing (or developing new) relationships between all components of the food
system. This reflects a prescriptive approach to building a food system, one
that holds sustainability – economic, environmental and social – as a long-term
goal toward which a community strives.

Four aspects distinguish community food systems from the globalized food
system that typifies the source of most food Americans eat: food security,
proximity, self-reliance and sustainability.
• Food security is a key goal of community food systems. While food security
traditionally focuses on individual and household food needs, community
food security addresses food access within a community context, especially
for low-income households. It has a simultaneous goal of developing local
food systems.
• Proximity refers to the distance between various components of the food
system. In community food systems such distances are generally shorter
than those in the dominant or global food system. This proximity increases
the likelihood that enduring relationships will form between different
stakeholders in the food system – farmers, processors, retailers,
restaurateurs, consumers, etc.
• Self-reliance refers to the degree to which a community meets its own food
needs. While the aim of community food systems is not total self-sufficiency
(where all food is produced, processed, marketed and consumed within a
defined boundary), increasing the degree of self-reliance for food, to be
determined by a community partnership, is an important aspect of a
community food system.
• Sustainability refers to following agricultural and food system practices that
do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their food
needs. Sustainability includes environmental protection, profitability,
ethical treatment of food system workers, and community development.
Sustainability of the food and agriculture system is increased when a
diversified agriculture exists near strong and thriving markets, when non-
renewable inputs required for every step in the food system are reduced,
when farming systems rely less on agri-chemical fertilization and pest
control, and when citizen participation in food system decision-making is
enhanced.

Goals of Community Food Systems


Building a community food system requires comprehensive or holistic
approaches to meeting the food needs of people living in a particular place.
Efforts to develop community food systems address multiple goals
simultaneously:
• Optimized health, reduced risk of diet-related chronic diseases, and
increased enjoyment of food among community members.
• Dietary change that complements the seasonal availability of foods
produced and processed by the local food and agriculture system.
• Improved access for all community members to an adequate, affordable,
nutritious diet.
• A stable (or in some cases, expanding) base of family farms that use
integrated production practices to enhance environmental quality,
• Marketing channels and processing facilities that create more direct links
between farmers and consumers, and, by shortening the distance between
these partners, conserve resources needed for transporting food.
• Food and agriculture-related businesses, resulting in stronger community
economies through job creation, and re-circulating financial capital in the
community. Such businesses could include food processing, or value-adding
processing to expand opportunities for locally produced food to be
consumed locally.
• Increased public participation in food and agriculture policies that promote
local food production, access to local retail and processing markets, and
institutional procurement of local agricultural commodities.
Elements of Community Food Systems
There are several well-recognized elements of a community food system:
• Farmers’ markets provide the opportunity for eaters to meet and talk
directly with the people who grow the food they are buying. By the same
token, farmers can learn more, in a direct way, about what their customers
want and need to know about the food from their farms. By decreasing the
amount of fuel used to move food around, this proximity to food sources
increases the environmental sustainability of the system.
• Community and school gardens are recognized as an important source of
fresh produce, particularly for underserved populations in low-income
neighborhoods, thereby increasing dietary quality and food security. They
provide spaces for community interaction, decision-making, problem-
solving, creativity and celebration. Community gardens also provide
opportunities to learn about food production, develop job skills, increase
agriculture literacy, generate food-related businesses, and create links to
nearby restaurants and soup kitchens.
• Community supported agriculture (CSA) farms are arrangements whereby a
group of people buy shares into the eventual harvest of a farm before the
crops are planted. In exchange for their investment into the farm,
shareholders receive fresh fruits and vegetables (and sometimes, other
products such as local cheeses, fresh flowers, eggs and meats), on a weekly
basis throughout the harvest season. By making this investment, CSA
members accept part of the financial risks associated with farming. Further,
the farmer receives a portion of the cost of production at a time when it is
most needed. Many CSA farmers also market through local farmers'
markets, which can increase farm profitability and stability.
• U-Pick operations and roadside farm stands provide access to fresh produce
direct from the farmer who grew it. Through a U-Pick, the price paid to the
farmer is reduced substantially in exchange for harvest labor. In the
process, eaters come in contact with farmers, experience another aspect of
the food system, and increase their intake of fresh and processed local
produce (if some of what they harvest is preserved through freezing or
canning, for example).
• Community kitchens are facilities where locally produced, gleaned or
recovered foods can be further processed or preserved for members of a
community. Food product development often takes place at these facilities,
thereby creating income generating opportunities and products with local
identity.
• Small-scale food processing and decentralized root cellars provide
infrastructure and technical expertise necessary to launch new food-based
businesses. Much of the food we eat is processed in some way and in areas
with relatively short growing seasons, such as the Northeast. The use of
canned, frozen and stored fruits and vegetables when produce is "out of
season" is another way to develop community food systems.
Externalities
The word externality is an economic term used to describe costs or
benefits generated by an agent (say a farmer, or a truck driver) that do not
register as a cost or benefit to that agent or end-user. The pollution generated
by transporting food is not paid for by the trucking company in the price of the
fuel, or by the consumer in the price of the food. The external environmental
and social costs related to food production, processing, storage, and
distribution are seldom accounted for in the price we pay for food at the
grocery store register. Community food systems, by narrowing the distance
between producers, processors and consumers, have a greater chance of
“internalizing” any externalities in the food system and actually reducing many.
For example, since the distance food is transported in a community food
system is shorter, less fossil fuel is burned, less pollution generated and less
wear and tear on trucks and roadways results from the transportation of food.
Likewise, because more of the steps in the food system are carried out locally,
the loss of food system-related jobs is minimized.

Actions to Create a Community Food Systems


As individuals, consumers can do a lot to support and collectively
strengthen community food systems:
• choose a diet rich in locally grown and processed foods. Regional food
guides, such as the Northeast Regional Food Guide, provide guidelines to
help consumers choose healthful local and seasonal diets.
• ask food stores to buy from local growers and processors.
• ask where items on restaurant menus came from and express interest in
eating locally produced and processed foods.
• shop at farmers' markets and food co-ops (which are more likely to offer
local, in season, and often organic choices).
• buy a share in a CSA farm or sponsor someone else's share.
• participate in a community or school garden or start a home vegetable
garden and share excess with neighbors, a community kitchen or local soup
kitchen.
• cook from scratch.
• support policies that favor local farms and other elements of community
food systems, join or create a food policy council to assess community
assets with respect to the local food system, identify areas of need, and
develop strategies collectively to meet those needs.

In order to support local community food systems in their food choices,


consumers need:
• access to local foods,
• ways to identify local alternatives,
• ways to learn meal planning and preparation skills,
• an understanding of seasonal variation,
• knowledge of the local food and agriculture system, and
• an appreciation of the benefits of eating seasonally and locally.

Nutrition practitioners can do a lot through their professions to support


community food systems as well, such as:
• include considerations about seasonal availability of locally produced foods
when providing dietary advice to clients,
• substitute non-local foods in meal plans with foods that are nutritionally
equivalent and are produced locally,
• create seasonally varied institutional food service menus that reflect local
agricultural production. This might include, for example, the use of root
vegetables in the winter in northern climates,
• shift procurement strategies in food service operations toward local food
sources, and include information about the sources of foods at the point of
purchase.

Conclusion
We all can benefit from learning more about our own food system, and
participating in its development. Community food systems offer an alternative
to our current approach to meeting our daily food and nutrition needs and
promises several social, environmental and economic benefits. As individual
stakeholders, we all have a role to play in shaping the future of our community
food systems.

References
Allen, P. 1999. Reweaving the food security safety net: Mediating entitlement
and entrepreneurship. Agriculture and Human Values 16:117-129.

Garrett, S. and Feenstra, G. 1999. Growing a Community Food System.


Community Ventures: Partnerships in Education and Research Circular Series
Topic. Washington State University Cooperative Extension, Puyallup, WA. June.

Gillespie, A. and Gillespie, G. 2000. Community Food Systems: Toward a


Common Language for Building Productive Partnerships. Cornell Cooperative
Extension.

Harmon, A., Harmon, R. and Maretzki, A. 1999. The Food System – Building
Youth Awareness Through Involvement. A Guidebook for Educators, Parents, and
Community Leaders. The Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural
Sciences.

Sobal, J. Khan, L.K. and Bisogni, C. 1998. A conceptual model of the food and
nutrition system. Social Science and Medicine 47:853-63.
Winne, M., Joseph, H. and Fisher, A. 1997. Community Food Security: A Guide
to Concept, Design, and Implementation. Community Food Security Coalition.
Los Angeles, CA.
Section 1:
You and Your Food System Introduction
This section contains instructional lessons designed to help you better
understand how nutrition, diet and the food system are connected. This section
introduces an overview of dietary guidelines and food guides, the food system
components and concepts, and the effect and influence every day food choices
have on the food system and vice versa.

Lesson 1: Food and You introduces the dietary guidelines for Americans
and how these support our health, yet have little relationship to the
food system. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is compared with the
Northeast Regional Food Guide that is designed to promote healthful
diets from foods grown and processed in the Northeast. This lesson
explores the ways that dietary guidelines and food guides can impact
upon the food system.
Lesson 2: What is a Food System? introduces the concept of a system
and then the various components of the food system.
Lesson 3: Think Globally, Eat Locally introduces a comparison between
local and global food systems and the complexity involved in making
such a comparison. There are no neat distinctions between the "local,"
or "community" and "global" when it comes to the food system. This
lesson will explore what these terms mean and how they should be
used in examining the food system.

Lesson 4: Food Labels and the Food System teaches how to read the
Nutrition Facts food labels, and helps to explore "food system"
information that might also be included. What is on food labels and
what is not can provide insights into why our food system is often
mysterious and hard to know.
Lesson 1:
Food and You
(or “You (and your food system) are what you eat”)

Summary

Today we face an array of food choices in our supermarkets, school cafeterias,


and homes. Because of the importance of establishing healthy eating habits at
an early age, we are never too young to need a good understanding of how what
we eat impacts our nutrition and health. Eating is also a very real way that
knowingly or not, we connect with our food system – several times each day!

Food and You makes connections between the foods we eat, our health, and
the food system. This lesson introduces the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, and the national nutrition education tool that implements these
guidelines – the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide
Pyramid. Other food guides have been developed for specific places, people and
goals. For example, the Northeast Regional Food Guide (NERFG) is designed to
promote healthful diets from foods grown and processed in the Northeast
region of the United States.

In this lesson, we will analyze the content and meaning of these important
resources in terms of diet and health. We will also compare and contrast the
U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA Food Pyramid with the
NERFG to identify the differences and similarities between national and
regional food guides. We will learn how seasons affect the availability of certain
foods in our area and what different forms foods can take on the supermarket
shelf. Completing the Lunch Laboratory will teach us how to design a balanced,
local and seasonal menu using our school or home lunch menu, or the
Discovering the Food System Café menu provided. Finally, the Food for
Thought Journal for this lesson will help us reflect on our own daily food
choices.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we should be able to:
• Use the USDA Food Pyramid to identify the food groups, the proper
number of daily servings from each group and how to choose a
healthy diet.
• Describe the similarities and differences between the USDA Food
Pyramid and the Northeast Regional Food Guide.
• Identify examples of seasonal differences in produce availability in the
Northeast
• Identify the different forms in which food is available in the
supermarket.
• Recognize that other forms of the food guide are used in other parts of
the world.

Key Concepts
• Nutrition
• Food Guide
• Food Group
• Dietary Guidelines
• Seasonal Availability
• Food Choices
• Food Forms - processing and preservation
• Plant Foods
• Animal Foods

“Getting to the Core”


Because apples are fruit, they appear in the “Fruit Group” of the food pyramid
– both the USDA and the Northeast Regional versions. The apple pictured on
the USDA Food Pyramid looks like a very familiar apple. Several different
varieties of apples grow in the Northeast. How many different kinds can you see
on this food guide? Apples, in many forms (fresh, applesauce, apple butter,
juice, etc.), will fit in the fruit food group. Being a fruit, apples have no fat, are
low in calories, are a good source of fiber and provide a modest amount of
vitamin C. Definitely a good snack item!

Activities
• The Power of Pyramids
• There’s a Reason for the Season
• The School Lunch Laboratory
• Food for Thought Journal
Activity 1: The Power of Pyramids
Summary:
To help us become more familiar with food guides, the first step is a
short activity to identify the differences and similarities between the USDA
Food Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines and the Northeast Regional Food
Guide (NERFG). You may have been introduced to food guides in previous
grade levels, but you are likely to be unfamiliar with the Northeast Regional
Food Guide.

Materials:
• Photocopies of the USDA Food Pyramid, U.S. Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, and the NERFG
• Transparencies (for use on an overhead if available) of the USDA Food
Pyramid and the NERFG.
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pencils/pens

Before class
Prepare the photocopies and transparencies as needed. Review the tables
provided in the Background section about the USDA and NERFG food guides
and any other background information needed.

Class itself

1. Look at the USDA Food Pyramid. Have you ever seen the image before?
Have you heard of the term food guide? Describe what a food guide is.
This is the food guide developed by the U.S. government for all
Americans. What is the nutrition background to the USDA Food Pyramid
(pertinent information is in the Background section of this lesson and
includes links to various web sites you may be interested in investigating
after the lesson)?
2. Look at the Northeast Regional Food Guide. This is a food guide that was
developed for people living in the northeastern United States.
3. On the board or a piece of paper, write two column headings: “Different”
and “Same.”
4. With both food guides visible, look for ways in which the two food guides
are the same and ways in which they are different. List the comments in
the appropriate column.
5. Continue listing differences and similarities until you run out of ideas.
Activity 2: There’s a Reason for the Season

Summary
In activity 1, we learned that one of the differences between the NERFG
and the USDA Food Pyramid is that the regional food guide includes lists of
foods available in the Northeast during each of the seasons. One way to
support our community food system is to eat seasonally available produce.
Although we cannot harvest fresh strawberries from our gardens in
January, we can enjoy local foods throughout the year. The way we do this
is by consuming produce that was grown by local farmers and then
preserved in order to be eaten long after harvest.

Materials
• Photocopies of the "Seasonal Availability of Produce" list on the
Northeast Regional Food Guide
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself

1. Look at the “Seasonal Availability of Produce” chart.


2. Why are some of the items listed in summer and fall missing from the
winter and spring lists. Fruits (except for tree fruits) and vegetables are
planted and harvested at a certain times of the year and not others; this
is called the "growing season."
3. Pick a few produce items (e.g., apples, tomatoes, or corn). On the board
or paper, make a list of the different forms in which they can be found in
a grocery store. For example, tomatoes are found fresh in the produce
section and in cans as whole tomatoes, sauce, paste, crushed, etc. If
necessary, find other examples of food that are fresh, stored, canned,
and dried. Which do you prefer to eat?
Activity 3: The School Lunch Laboratory

Summary
Now that you are familiar with the two food guides and understand in
what forms food can be stored, we can put the knowledge to work creating
healthy, Northeastern meals. In order to continue building on what you
already are familiar with, we will use our school or home lunch menus to
practice creating balanced Northeast-based meals for various seasons. If
you do not have access to a school or home menu, we have provided the
Discovering the Food System Café menu with the lesson.

Materials
• Photocopies of the complete Northeast Regional Food Guide from
Activity 1, a school lunch menu (or similar home menu), and the
School Lunch Laboratory handout
• Photocopies of the Discovering the Food System Café menu if needed
• Transparency sheets or posterboard and markers if available
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself

1. Make sure you have a copy of the complete Northeast Regional Food
Guide from activity 1, a sample menu and the School Lunch Laboratory
handout.
2. According to USDA regulations, school lunches are required to meet one-
third of the recommended daily allowances for vitamins, minerals and
protein. Therefore we need to build lunches to contain approximately
one-third of the servings suggested in the food pyramid. For example:
the USDA recommends 2-3 servings from the protein group for a full day.
Therefore, for lunch we want to plan needs 1 serving of protein.
3. Complete Meal #1 to become familiar with the activity. If there are a
large number of you, divide into groups and assign each group to do one
of the other three meals. When each group has finished creating their
meals, they can share them with the other groups via verbal response or
by creating their own transparencies and using it as a basis for their
explanation. If you do not divide into groups, finish the other three
meals yourself. If you wish, cut out pictures from magazines to create
illustrations of your meals and create a poster.
Directions:
Use the USDA Food Pyramid and the Northeast Regional Food Guide (NERFG)
to compare meals on the school lunch menu.

When planning each meal use the EVALUATE 1-2-3 method!


1. Which Food Group is it from?
Fill in the part of the meal that fits into each food group.
2. Is it Local?
Using the Northeast Regional Food Guide, determine if this food
item could be locally grown. Write “local” if it can be produced
locally or “global” if it cannot
3. What Form is the Food in?
Is the food fresh, canned, frozen, dried or stored? Next to the food
group, write what form the food item is in.

Meal #1
Choose a meal from the menu calendar you would like to eat and evaluate it.

Describe the meal:

Evaluate 1-2-3:
1. Which Food Group is it from?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
2. Is it Local?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
3. What Form is the Food in?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
Meal #2
Create a meal for the fall that only includes foods from the Northeast region
using the lists in the Northeast Regional Food Guide. To accomplish this, you
can use a meal that is already on the menu calendar and substitute
Northeastern foods for non-regional foods. Example: instead of peas as the
vegetable, use broccoli. Evaluate 1-2-3.

Describe the meal:

Evaluate 1-2-3:

1. Which Food Group is it from?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

2. Is it Local?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

3. What Form is the Food in?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
Meal #3
Create a meal for the winter using the NERFG. Evaluate 1-2-3.

Describe the meal:

Evaluate 1-2-3:

1. Which Food Group is it from?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

2. Is it local?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

3. What Form is the Food in?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
Meal #4

Create a meal for the spring using the NERFG. Evaluate 1-2-3.

Describe the meal:

Evaluate 1-2-3:

1. Which Food Group is it from?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

2. Is it Local?
Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________

3. What Form is the Food in?


Grain ____________________________________
Fruit ____________________________________
Vegetable ____________________________________
Dairy ____________________________________
Protein ____________________________________
Discovering the Food System Café Menu
MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY
Cheese Pizza Hamburger Deluxe Tomato Soup
Pepperoni Pizza Yogurt, Bagel & Fruit Toasted Cheese
Garden Salad and Apple Carrots Macaroni Salad
Milk Milk Milk
Cake Pudding Apple Crisp
Spaghetti w/meatballs Chicken Patty on Bun Cheese Pizza Chicken Nuggets w/roll Bacon Cheeseburger
Caesar Salad Pasta Salad Pepperoni Pizza Sweet Potatoes Baked Beans
Garlic Bread Green beans Garden Salad and Apple Corn Carrots
Milk Milk Milk Milk Milk
Pears Fruit Cup Brownie Cookie Rice Krispie Treat
Choice of Fruit Choice of Fruit
Cheese Ravioli Hot Sausage Sub Chicken Rice Soup Tacos w/toppings BBQ Ribs on a Bun
Tossed Salad Cold Sandwich Tater Tots PB&J French Fries
Bread Sticks Salad and Fresh Fruit Veggie Sticks Carrots Corn
Milk and Fresh Fruit Milk Milk Milk Milk and Fresh Fruit
Make your own Sundae Juice Icees Sliced Peaches Cookie and Fresh Fruit Cake

Cheese Pizza Baked Chicken & Roll Clam Chowder Hamburger Deluxe Chicken Nuggets w/roll
Pepperoni Pizza Cold Sandwiches Yogurt & Bagel Cold Sandwiches French Fries
Garden Salad and Fruit Green Beans Carrots Salad Green Beans
Milk Milk Milk Milk Milk
Brownie Apple Pie Fruit Cup Apple Crisp Ice Cream and Fruit

Spaghetti w/meatballs Ham & Cheese Melt


Garlic Bread Macaroni Salad
Caesar Salad Carrots
Milk Milk
Pears Spring Cake and Fruit
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
Finally, as an independent assignment, complete the Food For
Thought Journal for Lesson 1.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself or homework


In the journal you will describe a meal you have eaten recently. In
the process of analyzing the meal, you can begin to understand how
your food choices affect your local community food system. Keeping
the journal is strongly recommended as it can be used as an
assessment tool.
Questions of the Day:
¾ Describe a meal that you ate today or yesterday.

¾ Did you help prepare the meal?

¾ Which food groups were represented in your meal?

¾ Describe a food that you eat regularly that you know is canned.

¾ Describe a food that you eat regularly that is usually fresh.

¾ Which foods generally taste better to you, canned or fresh? Why


do you think it tastes better?
If time permits, describe the growing season in your area. You can
either keep track of the weather forecasts or contact your county
Cooperative Extension office to get information about frost dates for your
community. To help you understand the relationship between the
calendar seasons and agricultural seasons, note the date of the
beginning of the growing season on a calendar. This activity will
demonstrate that the agricultural seasons are not fixed dates for each
year, unlike the solstice and equinox, which are used to define the
calendar seasons.

Another idea, which you can try if you are truly motivated, is to
research various meals or recipes from certain parts of the country or
world and see if and how they fit into the pyramid. Many countries and
regions around the world use these as guides for food selection and
health education.

Commencement Level Challenge

It might surprise you to discover many other countries or regions


have food guides/pyramids. Examples are Thai, Asian, Mediterranean,
etc. Check out websites and download information. If you like, create a
visual with pictures and words. Compare and contrast similarities and
differences as modeled above with the USDA and Northeastern Regional
Food guide. One possible site to try is www.oldwayspt.org.
Background

One of the most important things about the food system, from our
standpoint, is that it provides us food to eat and enjoy and with which we
can maintain good health. Of course, some food choices are better than
others, and a food guide is an educational tool designed to help people
make food choices that are healthy and will prevent a number of diet-
related diseases. A food guide translates recommendations on nutrition
intake into recommendations of food intake. It organizes foods into
categories or “food groups” that are similar in nutrient content. A food
guide provides recommendations on what food groups to choose from
and the number of servings of food from each group in order to get a
nutritionally adequate and wholesome diet.

A National Food Guide


At the national level, the USDA has been publishing food guides
since 1917. The first food guide contained five food groups: flesh foods,
starchy foods, fat foods, watery fruits and vegetables, and sweets. This
food guide reflected the state of knowledge about nutrition at that time.
The USDA has published several food guides since that time, changing to
reflect advances in nutrition science and in our understanding of the
relationship between diet and health. For a bit of history on the
development of food guides in the United States, visit the USDA National
Agriculture Library website: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/history/.

The latest national food guide, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid,
provides an outline of what to eat each day based on the Dietary
Guidelines. The fifth edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary
Guidelines for Americans, a joint publication of the Departments of
Health and Human Services and Agriculture, was released on May 30,
2000. The food groups on today’s Food Guide are: fruits; vegetables;
breads, cereal, rice and pasta; meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts;
fats, oils and sweets; and milk, yogurt and cheese. The Food Guide
Pyramid is not a rigid prescription but a general guide that lets us
choose a healthful diet that takes into account individual food
preferences. The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the
essential nutrients and at the same time the right amount of calories to
maintain healthy weight.
The new guidelines also emphasize physical activity as important
for healthy living, more than just for weight management. For the first
time, there is a guideline that focuses on keeping food safe to eat,
particularly on the need to keep and prepare foods safely in the home.
The standard USDA Food Pyramid and Guidelines have been included in
the handout section of this lesson. The latest edition of these dietary
guidelines can be viewed at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/.
A Regional Food Guide

The Northeast Regional Food Guide (NERFG) is based on the US


Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, it goes further to include
guides for healthy community food systems. The NERFG is based on the
same dietary guidelines as the USDA food pyramid, but its focus is on
the Northeast food system. The complete NERFG is included as a
handout at the end of this lesson. To understand how the guides differ
refer to the following comparison tables:

Comparing the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and the Northeast Regional
Food Guide

The Northeast Regional Food Guide and the USDA Food Guide
Pyramid have several elements in common. However, there are several
important differences as well. Below is a comparison of these two food
pyramids. The NERFG includes a guideline to help people support their
local community food system.
USDA Food Guide Northeast Regional Food Guide
Pyramid
Format Pyramid shape Pyramid shape
Food Bread, Cereal, Rice Food groups are identical to the USDA Food Guide
Groups & Pasta; Vegetable; Pyramid, but the word order is changed for the high
Fruit; Milk, Yogurt, protein food to reflect an emphasis on plant foods in
& Cheese; Meat, the diet: Dry Beans, Nuts, Eggs, Fish Poultry, &
Poultry, Fish, Dry Meat.
Beans, Eggs, &
Nuts; Fats, Oils, &
Sweets.
Food Foods represent The number of foods pictured on the NERFG is
Images variety in each much greater than on the USDA Food Guide
group. Pyramid. The foods pictured on the NERFG are
foods that do currently, or can potentially, grow in
the Northeast region.

Forms for Foods are pictured The names of the fruit and vegetable group include
fruits and in their fresh form the various forms in which these foods can be found
vegetables only. (fresh, canned, frozen, and stored). Eating a diet
based on the availability of locally grown foods
means that the form in which we eat foods might
change throughout the year. For example, we might
not have fresh tomatoes in the winter, but canned
tomatoes or sauce would be consistent with local
foods.
Foods at Symbols for fat and This section actually has foods pictured. These
the top of sugar, no foods foods, such as jams, jellies, honey, butter and syrup
the pictured. provide little more than sugar and fat (empty
Pyramid calories) but they represent food products of the
region that add to the agricultural economy of
Northeast communities.
Seasonal None. Contains lists of fruit and vegetable available for
Availabilit each season. In the winter, the foods listed will need
y of to be provided from storage.
Produce
USDA Food Guide Pyramid Northeast Regional Food Guide

Aim for Fitness Aim for Fitness


ƒ Aim for a healthy weight. ƒ Aim for a healthy weight.
ƒ Be physically active each day. ƒ Be physically active each day.

Build a Healthy Base Build a Healthy Base


ƒ Let the Pyramid guide your food ƒ Let the Pyramid guide your food
choices. choices.
ƒ Choose a variety of grains daily, ƒ Choose a variety of grains daily,
especially whole grains. especially whole grains.
ƒ Choose a variety of fruits and ƒ Choose a variety of fruits and
vegetables daily. vegetables daily.
ƒ Keep food safe to eat. ƒ Keep food safe to eat.

Choose Sensibly Choose Sensibly


ƒ Choose a diet that is low in ƒ Choose a diet that is low in
saturated fat and cholesterol and saturated fat and cholesterol and
moderate in total fat. moderate in total fat.
ƒ Choose beverages and foods to ƒ Choose beverages and foods to
moderate your intake of sugars. moderate your intake of sugars.
ƒ Choose and prepare foods with ƒ Choose and prepare foods with less
less salt. salt.
ƒ If you drink alcoholic beverages, ƒ If you drink alcoholic beverages, do
do so in moderation. so in moderation.

Support a Community Food System


ƒ Choose a diet with plenty of foods
produced in your state and region.
ƒ Choose a variety of fresh fruits and
vegetables when they are available
from local farmers.
ƒ Choose a variety of root vegetables
during the winter and early spring.
ƒ Choose a diet low in out-of-season
produce.
ƒ Choose a diet low in foods that are
not produced in your state or
region.
What is a Season?
Usually we think of seasons as having very specific starting and
ending dates. Looking at our calendars we can see that summer officially
begins on the summer solstice, or on June 21st. The first day of fall is on
the autumnal equinox, or September 22nd. These dates are based on the
tilt of our planet in reference to the sun. Depending on how close or far
our part of the earth is from the sun, we may have longer periods of
sunlight or more intense sun exposure.
The changes in the Earth's position relative to the sun is important
to what crops we can grow at various times through the year. In the
Northeast, seasons greatly affect our crop production. Since varieties of
fruits and vegetables have different growing seasons, it is difficult to
specifically identify growing seasons. In general, growing seasons are
based on when frosts occur. The primary growing season is the average
length of the frost-free period between the last frost in the spring and the
first frost in the fall. We may not notice when the first and last frosts
occur in our area because they will occur when the temperature drops at
night. The local weather bureau or Cooperative extension office keeps
records of the frost dates.
The NERFG includes lists of seasonal vegetables available in the
Northeast. In general, most of our produce grows well during the
summer season. This includes the more delicate fruits and vegetables.
Depending on location in the Northeast, fall produce may be available
from one to several months before very cold weather sets in. Winter
produce consists of those hearty root crops harvested in the fall that can
be stored for long periods of time. In milder sections of the Northeast,
more tender vegetables may be available all winter. Several crops are
also available from greenhouses, and there are always a wide variety of
canned and frozen alternatives available during the Northeast winter. As
winter ends, the temperature warms again. Since the Northeast region
covers a large variation in climate conditions, the variety of produce
available in the spring will vary greatly. One of the most helpful aspects
of the Northeast Regional Food Guide is the list of seasonal produce
available in the Northeast.

Saving for a Snowy Day


At first, it may seem logical to us that we simply cannot enjoy our
Northeast summer fruits and vegetables in the middle of winter unless
we purchase them from other parts of the country and world. However,
we often consume foods that have been changed so that we can enjoy
them long after they are harvested. It is difficult to compare the
efficiency of the various ways to store food. Each form has a trade-off.
For particular foods one method may be preferred over another to
preserve the most taste or nutrition.
Fresh/Frozen: If we had a garden full of strawberries and were not about
to eat them all, several options would be available to us. We could clean
and freeze them to enjoy the same garden grown strawberries well into
the winter. Many varieties of produce can be frozen to enjoy at a later
time. Of all the processes to preserve food, freezing fruits and vegetables
maintains the nutritional quality closest to that of fresh, raw food.
(Newsome, 1980) Frozen foods must be frozen quickly and maintained at
a constant temperature to preserve the highest level of nutritional
quality. This form may a good choice for preserving your homegrown
produce!

Climate-controlled: Ever notice how some produce perishes quickly in


your lunch bag but keeps for days in the refrigerator? The cool
environment of the refrigerator helps us keep food fresh well after it has
been picked. Some foods can be stored longer than others and maintain
freshness. For example, many of the apples and potatoes we enjoy in the
winter are stored in temperature-and humidity-controlled environments
for months until they are eaten. The best temperature and humidity to
maintain produce varies considerably for different fruits and vegetables.
Sweet crops such as corn and peas need to be kept near freezing (32° F)
because at higher temperatures sugar reactions speed up and ruin the
eating quality (Frisch, 1986). Root crops such as carrots and beets need
to be kept below 45° F to avoid becoming inedible. Crops such as
broccoli and greens will keep twice as long at 32° F as they do at 40° F.
Obviously this is tricky business, but in the proper environments some
fruits and vegetables can be maintained for a considerable length of time.

Canned: In many communities, families still preserve their homegrown


produce by canning. This process keeps food in an airtight container
that is impermeable to the organisms that cause food to rot. Food may
be canned in large glass jars or in aluminum cans. Most grocery stores
have an extensive stock of canned food because it stores well and is
generally inexpensive. This form of food storage is able to preserve foods
for many years. However, after one year of storage, the quality of the
product begins to deteriorate.

Dehydrated: Another method used to preserve food is dehydration - or


removing most of the water. Most young people have eaten raisins.
Raisins are dried grapes that can be kept for many months. Dried fruit
concentrates the natural sugar of the fruit and can taste as sweet as
candy. Although it is more common to notice dried fruit, other produce
is also dried to save it for long periods of time. Dehydrated vegetables
can be found in some prepared dry soup mixes available.
Before freezing, canning, or dehydration it is common to heat-
process fruits and vegetables to remove air, which can destroy
contamination from microorganisms but also leads to decreased shelf
life, and (Newsome, 1980). Heat processing can consist of exposing food
to boiling water, steam or hot air for a short period of time. The result of
this necessary step in food preservation is nutrient loss. Due to slowing
down or stopping the enzyme process, the type of heat processing
necessary varies from one type of produce to another.

Most food preservation techniques require the input of energy and


other material resources. It is difficult to weigh the preservation
techniques based on how much energy is required to produce and
maintain the food in various forms. In addition, the technique used to
preserve the food depends largely on the type of fruit or vegetable you are
trying to preserve.

About the lesson…


Most of us will have had an opportunity to learn about the basic
food groups. We have probably seen the United States Department of
Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Food Pyramid on display in
school cafeterias. The first activity will help us rediscover the food guide.
By exploring the Northeast Regional Food Guide, we will see how our
community is connected to the food guide through the variety of foods
available in our region. Most of us get our food from grocery stores that
import food year round so that fruits and vegetables are available even in
the winter. However, it is important for us to become aware that many of
the foods we regularly consume do not come from the community near
us. Much of the food our families purchase can come from local sources
if we are able to make educated food choices. Also, using the variety of
food preservation techniques currently available, we can preserve and
maintain local produce through the cold Northeast winter.

Lesson Resources:
We have included the USDA Food Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines
as a companion to this lesson. To find out more about the USDA
guidelines you can find information on the Internet at: www.usda.gov
For more information on the Northeast Regional Food Guide, direct your
browser to: www.nutrition.cornell.edu/FoodGuide/

For more information about food preservation and processing, you


may want to consult:
http://britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/printable/4/0,5722,120854,00.
html
Lesson 2:
Food System Basics
Summary

Although we participate in the food system each day by eating, most


of us are likely not to be aware of how food gets from the field to table.
Even young people from rural areas are increasingly becoming
removed from their local food system.

Food System Basics will help us develop an understanding of the


food system by building on what we already know and experience.
Several models have been created to help us conceptualize the many
complex interconnections that exist in the food system. In the first
activity of this lesson, we will follow the path of a simple food item,
such as fruit juice, from farm to table. We will create informal
illustrations of the path of the food item. If you are working as a large
group, have the instructor help you create a master class list of the
activities in the food’s path. We can compare the steps that we were
able to think of to the list provided at the end of this lesson. We will
also make a list of activities or processes that occur within each step
in the food system. This activity will help us think more critically
about all of the steps involved in creating the food supply available in
our grocery stores, cafeterias, and restaurants. Finally, we will
discover what “local” means in terms of our food system. This lesson
will create the basic framework for exploring more in-depth issues and
concepts related to the food system in the coming lessons.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we should be able to:
• Identify, define and describe steps in the food system.
• List several activities that occur at various steps in the food
system.
• Explore the meaning of the term “local” in reference to the food
we eat.
• Describe our individual participation in the food system.

Key Concepts
• Systems
• Interdependence
• Inputs
• Outputs
• Food System
• Models

“Getting to the Core”


If we look at how apples work themselves through the food system, we
can find them at every stage of the system. Apples are grown (they grow
on trees), they are harvested, etc.

Growing – Apples grow on trees in orchards. Sometimes trees are


attached to wire frames so that they are spread out horizontally and the
fruit is easy to reach for picking.

Harvesting – Apples are harvested by hand. In the United States, apples


are picked by migrant or resident farm laborers from Mexico and Latin
America. Ladders are used in the case of freestanding trees in order to
reach all of the apples. The pickers will fill bags that are attached to their
ladders and lower them into boxes being towed with a tractor.

Washing, grading and waxing – Apples are washed, graded, and waxed.

Storing – Apples are sorted by size and then packed into 40-pound
cartons.

Transporting – If not sold locally, a buyer arranges for shipment and a


trucking company is contracted for shipment (4-5 days from Washington
State to the East coast, for example). Temperature-controlled trucks
travel 2,800 miles from Spokane, WA to Maryland.

Changing (also called Transforming or Processing) – Not all apples are


sold as fresh fruit. Apples can be canned, made into pie filling or
applesauce, or added to many different products. How many food
products can you think of that contain apples?

Packaging – The packaging of apples is different, depending on how the


fruit is sold: fresh and whole, or as part of a food product.

Marketing/Retailing – Apples can be marketed a number of different


ways and through different sales channels.

Cooking – Apples of course can be eaten without any cooking – right


from the tree! But they also can be baked whole or in pies and other
pastries, made into sauce, or made into a fruit salad – such as Waldorf
salad.
Consuming – Yum!

Disposing, composting and Recycling. Apple cores can be composted!


If apples are made into a food product, the package needs to be disposed
of or recycled.

Activities
• From Field to Table
• Steps in the Food System
• Food Thread
• Food for Thought Journal

Going Further
Background
Activity 1: From Field to Table

Summary
Since a good way to introduce a new concept (such as the food
system) is to put the idea in the context of something familiar, the first
activity consists of discussing a commonly consumed food product.

Materials
• Simple processed food products or the labels of such products
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Collect labels of commonly consumed food products.

Class itself

• Write down on paper a common whole and a processed food


product. For example, whole fruits and vegetables are “whole”
foods, and food products such as bread, ready-to-eat cereal,
grape juice, applesauce, tomato soup, or strawberry jam are
processed foods.
• Think about the path of those products from the field to your
table. First think about the “whole” foods and then the
processed foods. Think about the fresh fruit or vegetable the
processed product was made from - grapes, applesauce,
tomatoes, or strawberries. You might think about the kind of
plant the food came from. Have you ever seen the plant or
grown it in a garden or on a farm?
• What are the steps involved in changing a raw food into the
final product being considered? Considerations about the
packaging, the label, and other ingredients are all part of this
picture. If you are leading a discussion for a large group, you
may want to refrain from “answering” the students’ questions at
this point. The goal of this activity is to generate thinking about
what a food system is and how a food product ends up in the
grocery store.
• Think about how the food item got to your grocery store. You
may want to use the guiding questions below to help focus your
thinking to particular parts of the food path. Draw informal
illustrations of the path that the food item followed from the
farm to your table. This activity is a way to bring out the your
understanding of the food system. When you are done, put
your name on the drawing and put it aside. You will use it for
later activities, and at the end of the unit, you may want to
make another illustration so you can compare what you initially
thought about the food system to what you learned during the
activities.

Guiding Questions
• Where do the ingredients in this food product come from?
• How were they grown?
• What do you have to do to the ingredients to make it look
this way?
• What was added to make this product?
• What did we do to it to make it look the way is does?
• Where does the container come from?
• What do we do with the container when it is empty? Ex.
throw it away (where does it go?)- landfill?, re-use, recycle,
burn it,
Activity 2: Steps in the Food System

Summary
Beyond identifying the steps in the food system, it is important to
have an idea of what activities go on in each step.

Materials
• Labels used in Activity 1
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Photocopies of Steps in the Food System list

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed.

Class itself
• Look at your list from the last lesson. What steps did you include and
why? If you have a large group, use the writing board to create a
master list. Ideally, several of the steps in the food system from the
Steps in the Food System list (provided with this activity) will be
identified during this exercise. What are the similarities and
differences between your list and the Steps in the Food System list?

• To help you think more deeply about the steps of the system, pick a
step in the food system. Make a list of several activities that take
place in each step of the system. For example, if you choose the step
of Growing, you might write down: cultivating the soil, planting,
watering, buying seed, testing soil, spraying, etc. Design your own job
title for something that a person might do in that part of the food
system. If you have a large group, divide into smaller groups so that
each step of the food system is covered.
Steps in the Food System
Growing
|
Harvesting
|
Storing
|
Transporting
|
Changing (Transforming or Processing)
|
Packaging
|
Marketing
|
Retailing
|
Preparing
|
Consuming
Activity 3: Food Thread

Summary
Now that you have identified not only the steps in the food system
but various activities within each of those steps, you should cement your
understanding by creating a “Food Thread” for one item. This activity
will also introduce you to the concept of “local” in the food system.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Getting to the Core” from this lesson
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class

Make photocopies as needed.

Class itself
1. Creating your own “Food Thread.” Read the “Getting to the Core” for
this lesson, which applies the food system concepts to apples. Choose
other food items to trace through the food system. Draw the path this
food item would take, or how it would “thread” its way through the
food system. This food might be a potato, tomato, strawberry or
orange depending on what interests you, or a product native to your
location. Or, if you are quite ambitious, choose a food product that
contains more than one food from more than one food group – yogurt
for example. The important thing is that the food that is chosen
should have some meaning and relevance to the food system you are
discovering.

2. What does “local“ mean? This term can have many meanings
depending on how it is approached. Refer to the Background section
for information about local food systems.
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Lesson 2.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed.

Class itself
In the journal you will be able to study one of your own meals to
think about where your food comes from in the context of the steps of the
food system.
Questions of the Day:
¾ Describe a meal that you ate today or yesterday.

¾ Did you help prepare the meal?

¾ Was there anything in your meal that you think may have been grown
or produced locally before it was in the grocery store or your cabinet?

¾ How would you find out if it were grown or produced locally?

¾ What steps in the food system are represented in what you ate today?
Which foods were represented by which step?

¾ If you could ask someone anything about the foods you ate today,
what would you ask and why?
If time allows, try one of these games:

1. Continue Activity 2 by playing a top ten game. Designate point


keepers for the game. Have groups take turns guessing what
activities other groups have listed for their step in the food system by
acting out (without words) the particular step or activities. This could
lead to a discussion about which steps you think are most expensive,
which steps might use a lot of resources, which steps take place
within your community. This is a time to have the group brainstorm
together now that they are better versed in what the food system is.
Also, you can use the telephone book to find out if there are any food
producers or processors in your town.

2. Are you in the food system game?


Before the game: Make a copy of the “Steps in the Food System” list.
Game: At the start of the game give each group a copy of the 10 steps.
Give them about 4 minutes to list people who are members of each
step. Have them use specific names, for example: Mr. Williams in the
produce department at Greene’s store. Have them list as many names
as they can think of next to the step within which the person works.
You might be surprised to find that even you are involved in working
within a food system, as a bus-person at a local restaurant or a
cashier at a fast food establishment. At the end of the designated time
ask the groups to count all persons listed in each step of the food
system. Ask a spokesperson from each group to share their total
points and the step with the most and least names recorded in their
group. Record the results. This could be an indication as to which
steps you are most and least familiar with. Creating a list of family
and/or friends who work within the food system would not only be
interesting, but also introduce different career possibilities that you
have not yet considered. Post the results.
COMMENCEMENT LEVEL CHALLENGE
Food for Thought Journal 2

Things to think about:


List the 10 steps within a food system.
1. 6.
2. 7.
3. 8.
4. 9
5. 10.

Which of the steps would occur in a local market?

Which of the steps would occur in a regional market?

Which of the steps would occur in a global market?

Does the number of steps through which a food goes affect the cost of the
food?
___yes ___no___maybe

Give some examples of foods grown and marketed locally, regionally and
globally.
List the advantages and disadvantages for the consumer choosing foods
grown in different areas.

Examples of a locally grown food


advantages disadvantages

Examples of a regionally grown food


advantages disadvantages

Examples of a globally grown food


advantages disadvantages

What is the basis for peoples’ choices when selecting foods?


Background
You probably know more about the food system than you can
readily express. If we ask ourselves where a food might come from we
will often respond, “the grocery store.” However, most of us do
understand that apples grow on trees somewhere and that farms grow
most of our food. It may take time and discussion to define many of the
steps in the food system that we are less familiar with or have not
experienced. The primary goal of the lesson is to identify the major steps
of the food system and explore some of the activities that take place in
each step. Each step is defined and discussed below to help gain a clear
idea of how food-producing activities are arranged in the food system.

What is a System?
A system is a group of interacting, interrelated, and oftentimes
interdependent elements that function together as a complex, unified
whole. One core concept of a system is that a change in one element of a
system has an impact, either directly or indirectly, on one or more
additional elements in that system. Another core concept is that systems
generally require inputs to function and produce outputs that need to be
dealt with one way or another. Inputs and outputs in the food system are
too numerous to list here, but every component of the food system uses
inputs and results in outputs. For example, the “Growing” segment of the
food system requires seeds, soil, water, sunshine, fertilizer/compost,
human work, machinery and energy to run the machinery as inputs.
“Growing” generates crops that serve as human foods, and waste that
may be incorporated back into the soil or disposed of in another way.
Inputs and outputs vary a great deal depending on the type of food
system being considered.

In a true system the components of that system are treated or


considered as a whole and cannot be considered in isolation from other
related components or elements of the system. Relationships and
interdependencies between the components are key elements of a
system.

Systems vary in the degree to which they are "open" or "closed" --


that is, the degree to which system components interact with, or are
insulated from, the larger external environment. Given the nature of food
systems, which have biological, physical, and socio-economic aspects,
there is a high degree of interchange both among the subsystems and
with the larger environment. Dynamic adjustments in the food system to
external and internal forces, including our research and education
programs, are on going and must be given greater consideration as we
conduct our work.
Steps in the Food System:

Food Production involves many of the activities that take place on a farm,
at an orchard, in bodies of water, or in greenhouses and fish-farm tanks
to produce our food. Food production depends on the "input" of several
resources, both natural (soil, water, climate, seeds, and human labor)
and human-made (machinery, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides). A farmer owns
or rents land to plant crops, or tend animals. The inputs required vary
depending on what is being grown or raised and the type of agricultural
system that is in place. For example, many of the pesticides and
fertilizers common in most of our agriculture are not allowed in organic
agriculture.

Harvest can be very labor-intensive step in the food system if we are


talking about many of the fruits and vegetables that are too delicate to be
harvested by machine. Other fruits and vegetables are harvested with
machines. Mechanical harvesters that require fuel to run harvest most
grain and cereal crops. Depending on what is harvested, different
resources may be needed. Some of the inputs required for this step in the
system are labor, fuel, raw materials, built equipment, and packing
materials.

Storage refers to keeping a stock or supply of a certain crop to maintain


safety and quality for some future use. Storage is required for all crops
that are not marketed soon after harvest. Different crops can be stored
for different lengths of time. Most fruits and vegetables are highly
perishable unless processed or preserved from their fresh form.
Exceptions to this include apples, root vegetables (potatoes, yams,
carrots, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips), bulbs (onions, shallots, garlic),
and cabbages (red and green), all of which store well for extended periods
of time, if the proper temperature and humidity are maintained. Grains
and cereals store well for years with no energy input. Apples are often
kept in controlled atmospheres to make them available many months
after they are harvested. Of course, we store food on a daily basis in our
refrigerators. The inputs required for storage include energy to maintain
the cool environment, gases, packaging, buildings and land.

Distribution is the process of dividing up, spreading out, and delivering


food to various places. Farm products can be taken from their original
sources and delivered to supermarkets, other food stores, or farmers’
markets for sale as a whole fresh product - like many fruits and
vegetables. Alternatively, farm products can be transported to a site
where they will be transformed in some way, combined with other
ingredients, made into food products, packaged and then distributed
through a number to marketing channels. Most of what we find in
grocery stores today has been transported great distances and has
undergone some degree of processing. We currently transport food by
truck, train, boat, and plane. A few foods (tomatoes and bananas
primarily) that will be transported a significant distance are usually
harvested before full ripeness so that they will withstand the bumps
along the way.

Transformation or Processing changes made to a food's structure,


composition, character, or condition, is another way to make food
available at times or places that it might otherwise not be. Much of the
food we eat on a regular basis is transformed in some way before we eat
it. Think of the bread on your sandwich, the juice you had with
breakfast, tomato sauce and the pasta is covers, or the cheese you had
on a cracker (and the cracker itself!). During processing, food is changed
in some way to enhance flavor, make it last longer than the processed
raw foods it came from, or create new products altogether. There are
many different ways to process a food. Turning fresh strawberries into
jam, making juice from fresh apples, pre-cutting and cooking potatoes for
frozen French fries are all ways to process food. It may include drying,
cooking, freezing and canning, or adding preservatives to lengthen shelf
life. Processing may enhance the nutritional content of a food, and in
many cases may decrease nutritional content. Depending on the type of
food and processing technique, a variety of inputs are necessary for this
step in the food system. Some of them are labor, machinery, water, fuel
for cooking and freezing, sugar, and preservatives.

Packaging is a way to protect food from spoilage on its way to our grocery
stores. Almost everything we purchase at the grocery store is packaged
in some way. Strawberries are put into plastic quart containers, bread is
packaged in plastic or paper bags, pasta is kept in cardboard boxes, etc.
Packaging is also a way to divide up the goods in a standard way so that
people can purchase a known quantity quickly. It can provide a place for
advertisement of the goods contained within. Some of the inputs
necessary to make packaging are paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum,
glass, ink, and machinery.

Marketing, Sales and Purchasing is the process of determining and


catering to the consumer’s wants or needs, (or it may give the illusion of
need in an effort to get people to buy a product!). A significant portion of
the money we spend on each food item goes to marketing teams who
determine what people want from the food they eat. Marketers determine
how to make food appealing to consumers. The inputs for this step in
the system are people’s labor and time, in addition to advertising and
packaging.
Retailing is how food is brought to the consumer. Food can be sold to
groups of businesses that sell the products in grocery stores or
restaurants. Another way of retailing is bringing goods to a market for
consumers to purchase, such as a farmer’s market. Some of the inputs
needed for retailing may include transportation to the market, packaging
to hold and label goods, and fuel to maintain the food.

Cooking can happen in the home, at restaurants, or in institutional


kitchens that feed hundreds of people. If we start with fresh ingredients,
cooking “from scratch” can be quite involved and enjoyable. With many
food products available today, “cooking” amount to nothing more than
re-heating and presenting a dish or entire meal on a plate. When we
purchase food from a restaurant, someone else does the cooking. The
inputs needed for cooking depend on what is being done with the food.
Some inputs may be water, heat, and various appliances, as well as our
time.

Consuming is the step of the system when we purchase or eat food.


People studying the food system may consider the purchasing of food to
be consumption because that is when it is taken out of, or “disappears”
from, the retail sector of the food system. A family might consider
consumption to be when they eat food because that is the time when a
meal is enjoyed together. The primary input for this step is financial,
since we pay for the food item and all of the activities required in
bringing the food to our table.

Disposing, composting and recycling -- Some food that is purchased,


cooked and served as part of a meal is not eaten and instead is thrown
out. This food can go into the garbage or can be added to a compost pile
and turned into a valuable, rich fertilizing material to add to a home
garden or a farmer’s field. Food packages may also have different fates
with different environmental impacts. All food packages, of course, can
be thrown away and added to the solid waste accumulated by a
community. However, many food packages can be recycled. Food
packing materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass
and tin can be recycled depending on the services provided by the
community.

Models of the Food System


Since we cannot “see” the whole food system at one time, models
have been developed to help us understand this complex and
interdependent system.

The food system has been conceptualized [and modeled] in several


different ways (Sobal et al, 1998). Models may be linear in nature --
starting with production and proceeding to transportation, processing,
marketing, and consumption. However, the food system is undoubtedly
more complex than it might appear from a linear model. Each component
or subsystem depends upon inputs both natural and man-made, and
produces by-products that are either recycled or end up as waste that is
absorbed by the larger environment. In addition there are feedback loops
by which one component or subsystem affects another.

A model developed for the Northeast Network for Food, Farm and
Health Policy Education places this linear model in the biophysical,
socio-cultural, and economic-political spheres, which greatly influence
the food system and are, in turn, influenced by it.

Figure 1:

Sobal, et al. (1998) have also placed a linear schematic of


production, consumption, and nutrition in a broader context of
biophysical and social realms.

There are other ways to think about the food system, including
food webs and food circles or cycles, which are departures from the
linear approach. They can more clearly reflect the complexity of the
interaction among the system components and may convey the sense of
a closed system. The model developed as part of an elementary school
curriculum -- The Whole Story of Food -- is an example of a circular
portrayal of the food system. But, as the model shows, the food system is
not closed as depicted by the "disposing" step directed away from the
cycle. In addition, the uni-directional flow clockwise around the cycle,
misses the impacts any step might have on the one preceding it. Further,
in actuality each of the steps in this circular model is dependent on
inputs (most obviously energy) from outside the system. Likewise, each
step results in outputs that are at least in part absorbed beyond the
bounds of the system. It is worth noting that although closed systems
may be an ideal for which to strive, they are rarely seen in the real world
because any defined system could also be redefined as part of a larger
system with which it inherently interacts.

Figure 2:

For Discovering the Food System we have taken elements of several


food system models and created a new one. This model emphasizes the
interdependencies of each of the components and the inputs necessary
and outputs that result from each step.
These steps of the food system are presented in a typical order.
Sometimes the steps may occur in a different order depending on what
food product is being produced in the system. Most likely you can bring
up steps that might happen out of this order. For example, often food is
stored at home in a refrigerator after it has been purchased from the
retail store. Also, some people will purchase fruits to process and
package at home by making jam. Adding to this arrangement of steps in
the food system by exploring different foods will help you understand the
parts of the system more deeply.

Figure 3:

About the lesson…


In activity 2, you can create drawings of all of the steps you think
it takes to get food from farm to table. The goal of this part of the lesson
is to think about the food system, to see what you already understand
about it and to build on that understanding. The length of time for this
activity should be limited to approximately half of an hour.

The activities in this lesson are adaptable for most learning


environments. A key point to keep in mind during the lesson is to
explore your ideas. This may take time and patience but will help you
identify what you already know. Once you know what you already
understand, you can build upon that understanding. Pre-existing ideas
about food and food sources will vary with the geographic location,
educational setting, experience with gardening and farming, and the type
of food and level of cooking in the household, etc. This provides an
opportunity to gauge your perspective of food systems.
Lesson 3:
Think Globally, Eat Locally
Summary
When we hear the common saying, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” food
may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, what we choose to eat
is connected to a food system. That food system may be very local, such
as an apple from a neighboring orchard, or global, such as apples coming
from New Zealand, Japan, or Canada. The major goal of this lesson is for
us to become familiar with local and global aspects of our food system.
The first activity will help us define the terms “local,” “regional,” and
“global.” We will then participate in an activity to demonstrate these
differences in energy consumed in local and global food systems. Other
ideas are offered in the Going Further section.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we will be able to:
• Have an increased understanding of how the steps in the food
system are interrelated.
• Explore the concepts of "local," "regional," and "global" food
systems.
• Have an increased awareness of how energy is needed and used
in the food system.
• Explain how our food choices can affect the community and
global system.

Key Concepts
• Local food system (and “localization”)
• Global food system (and “globalization”)
• Regional food system (and “regionalization”)
• Community
• Sustainability
• Food Miles
• Cost versus Price

Activities
1. Defining the terms “Local,” “Regional,” and “Global.”
2. Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison
3. Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison Follow-up
4. Miles in Your Breakfast
5. Food for Thought Journal
Activity 1: Defining the terms “local,” “regional,” and
“global”

Summary
In order to understand food systems and how they are
interconnected, we must first understand the terms used. This lesson
will help us define “local,” “regional,” and “global” for future use.

Materials
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Review Background material and guiding questions

Class itself
• Start this lesson by discussing or thinking about the meaning of
the terms, “local”, “regional”, and “global.” The distinctions
between these different systems are based on the distances
between the sources of the food (where it is grown, raised or
caught) and the place where it is purchased for consumption.
• Much of the food found in a grocery store arrived there through a
food system that is global. Discuss or think about what the term
“global” means. Where do your oranges come from? What areas of
the world do other foods you buy come from?
• Using the guiding questions below, brainstorm to focus your ideas.
• Once you have generated ideas, we will define the terms for this
lesson. Refer to the Background section for definitions.

Guiding Questions
• What do you think the term “local” means?
• What makes a food a local food?
• What makes up your local area?
• What does the term “regional” mean to you? What is
your region?
• What does the term “global” mean to you?
Activity 2: Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison

Summary
To help us learn about the amount of energy and other resources
used and outputs generated by the food system, we will compare a
local with a global food system. We will first set a number of
parameters about either a global or local food system. Then, using a
food system worksheet, we will calculate the amount of energy in the
food system. For each food system, we will follow the path of a
strawberry – in a form they choose and from a place and type of farm
that they choose. We will first decide on a food system “scenario” for
their strawberries, then using the energy worksheet, calculate the
amount of energy used for the kind of strawberry food system we
chose. There are examples to give you ideas as well.
The strawberries used in this example could be fresh, frozen or in
jam and they could come from a local, small farm or come from across
the country. One of the important points in this lesson is that all food
systems (local, regional and global) require the input of natural and
human resources. Even a very local food system will require some
resources and generate some level of output. Food systems, however,
vary a great deal in the level of inputs required, the level and kind of
outputs generated, and the benefits or costs that result for a given
community.

Materials
• Photocopies of Strawberry food system story
• Photocopy of “Steps in the Food System” list from Lesson 2
• Photocopies of the Energy worksheets as needed
• Local and national road maps, if needed
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
To prepare for this activity, make copies of the strawberry food
system story. Make copies of the local food system. Review the food
system model and have a copy of the “Steps in the Food System” list from
Lesson 2 on hand to which to refer during the activity. Check with your
local cooperative extension to find out where strawberries are grown in
your area.
Class itself

1. Think about your experiences with strawberries.


• Do you eat strawberries?
• Have you ever picked strawberries? If so, where do you pick
strawberries?
• What is your local season for strawberries? (When are they
ready for picking?)
• Can you pick strawberries here in the winter?
• Where are the strawberries grown that you buy in the
winter?
• What are some of the different ways that you can buy
strawberries in the supermarket? (Frozen, jam, in yogurt,
fresh).

2. Look at the strawberry food system story.

3. Complete the worksheet, filling in the missing information as you


go along. Some of this information will be based on data that you
will have ahead of time (i.e. location of strawberry farms nearby)
and other information will be a matter of some judgment (i.e. the
gas mileage for the truck). [Note: To make this exercise as “real” as
possible, to use a location for the market near where the you live
and a farm location that is between 50 and 100 miles from your
town for the local food system, a few thousand miles away for the
global food system.] Decide on the type of farm. There may be other
particulars that you think of to add to the worksheet not noted
there. This is fine and should be encouraged. To determine
distances between specific locations, use a road atlas or Mapquest.

4. Complete the worksheets after all the missing pieces of food system
information are added. Calculate the energy and resources used
and the amount of CO2 and garbage generated as “outputs” or
“externalities.” Record your results in the appropriate column of
the energy and resource score sheet.

5. Once you have completed the worksheets and score sheets, try
another scenario (global if the first was local, or vice versa. If there
are enough of you, divide into 2 groups and one take the local
scenario and one the global). Compare the results of the two
sheets so that you can see the differences on energy and resource
use between the two systems.
If ever there were a taste of summer, the strawberry would be it!
The strawberry has become one of the most popular small fruits in the
United States. On average, Americans eat about 6 pounds a year. Not
only does this fruit taste good, it is good for you. Strawberries are good
source of vitamin C, and as a fruit contain no fat.

Most strawberries produced in the United States are grown as


annuals (plants that are planted each year and last for one season) in
California and Florida over a long season and then shipped to be sold
fresh in supermarkets all over the country from December through
October. Strawberries can be found fresh, or processed into juices, jams,
jellies, or frozen whole or sliced for use in ice cream, yogurt and toppings.
How many of these ways have you had strawberries? There are many
different varieties of strawberries. Here in the northeast, several varieties
are grown locally to be marketed as fresh berries. There is definitely a
“season” for strawberries here in our region. The fruits ripen over a
three- to five-week period beginning in late May and ending mid-June.
The precise length of the strawberry season will vary depending on the
location.

In the Northeast (as in Canada and the Midwest), strawberries are


generally grown as perennials, that is, they will bear fruit for several
years before needing to be replaced with new plantings. Few farms grow
only strawberries – most strawberry growers produce other fruits and
vegetables as well, because the strawberry season is so short. If this were
the only crop a farmer grew, all his/her income from farming would have
to be made in a few weeks out of the year!

On a conventional farm, strawberry production can involve inputs


of synthetic herbicide (for weed control) and a synthetic nitrogen
fertilizer. Weeds are a problem mostly in June, July and early August of
the year the plants are planted. On an organic farm, the strawberry fields
are usually fruited for only two years, because it is difficult to maintain
enough nitrogen from organic sources. Since plants will not produce
much fruit without sufficient nitrogen, other crops are planted on the
field when strawberries are not planted and manure is used to fertilize
the soil.
Labor costs tend to be higher in organic production, but chemical
(herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers) costs are likely to be lower. Yields
also tend to be lower as well. Average organic yields are about 5,000;
4,000; 2,000; and 1,000 quarts per acre in consecutive years on an
organic farm, where as on a conventional farm average yields are about
7,000; 7,000; 4,000; and 3,000 quarts per acre. Organic strawberry
production can be as profitable as conventional production if the price of
the organic fruit is about 30% - 40% higher than conventional.

Strawberries can also be grown in controlled, high-technology


environments for off-season production. These can be plastic tunnels
over raised beds in the field or full greenhouses. In addition to the
building materials for the structures, greenhouses are heated with the
input of energy.

Strawberries are extremely perishable. That means they ripen


quickly and even faster after harvest. They maintain quality for only a
few days at room temperature (that’s the strawberry’s shelf life) and
about a week refrigerated – depending on the variety that is grown. This
means that once ripe strawberries are picked, they need to be handled
carefully, kept cool, and transported quickly to a processing facility or to
where they will be marketed fresh.

If a berry is picked before it is fully ripe it will have a longer storage


and/or shelf life than those harvested at the fully ripe or overripe stage.
Have you seen strawberries with white tips? These not yet fully ripe
berries will retain their firmness much longer than those harvested fully
ripe (making them better long-distance travelers) and will lose less water
during storage. This sound good, doesn’t it? But, the down side of this is
that these berries usually do not develop the same intense flavor as fruits
harvested at the fully ripe stage. Because berries ripen so quickly,
frequent harvesting of the field (once every two days) is critical.

The berries headed for the fresh market (store or farmers’ market
where they’re sold as fresh and whole fruit) are placed into commercial
containers. Containers can be made of pulp (inexpensive but stain
easily), wood (also stain and are expensive), clear plastic containers, like
clamshells (reduce moisture loss but juice can gather in the bottom), or
colored plastic mess boxes.
To maintain quality after harvest, berries must be stored at low
temperatures, with high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels. Cooling –
and doing it quickly! - is probably the most important step to take after
harvest to maintain good quality. This is critical for berries that will be
transported great distances. Forced air cooling is the most frequent
method used. This involves channeling refrigerated air through the
containers holding the fruit. Large producers may have a separate forced
air cooling facility specifically designed for removing field heat. Smaller
forced air units can be improved with a small walk-in cooler and a few
fans! Regardless of size, cooling with forced air will require resources for
the unit or facility and will use energy to do the cooling. Remember,
strawberries are very fragile and need to be handled carefully at every
step along the distribution chain from farmer to consumer. The fewer
steps, the less loss from decomposition and rot. The average total loss of
strawberries from harvest to the consumer’s table is estimated to be
more than 40%! A 14% loss occurs from farmer to wholesaler, a 6% loss
from wholesaler to retailer, and a 22% loss occurs from retailer to
consumer. These losses can be decreased with good handling practices.

If the berries are to be transported great distances, say from


California to New York State, many steps are involved. After the berries
are transported from the field and pre-cooled, the flats (the wooden
crates in which pint-sized cartons of strawberries are placed for
transport) might then be wrapped, loaded in a refrigerated truck,
transported to a distribution center and unloaded into a warehouse. At
some later time, they would then be loaded into a truck, transported to a
retail store, unloaded and stacked in the back room, and finally set up
on the produce display for sale. Of course, if a farmer plans to sell the
berries directly to consumers at a nearby farmers’ market, the berries
will be picked and placed directly into cartons, kept cold over night,
loaded onto a smaller truck along with other products and transported to
the market the next morning. Other marketing options include customer
harvest (pick-your-own) and processed (frozen, jams, jellies, etc.).

As this story reveals, there are many steps involved in getting


strawberries from a farmer’s field to your table! And the path can vary
quite a bit.

Source for “Strawberries From Farm and Table”: Pritts, M. and Handley,
D. (Eds.). 1998. Strawberry Production Guide for the Northeast, Midwest,
and Eastern Canada. Natural Resource, Agricultural, and Engineering
Service. Cooperative Extension. 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-
5701. 162 pages. NRAES-88; ISBN 0-935817-23-9.
Worksheet: Energy use in the food system – Strawberries

Objectives: To calculate and compare the energy costs of providing strawberries for
several food system scenarios *.

Instructions: (refer to example as needed)

1) Fill in the blanks in the header of the energy cost worksheet. Choose the type and
location of farm that the strawberries come from, the form of berries, the location of
the market, the location of the consumer and his/her mode of transportation, and the
type of shopping trip. Refer to Table 1: Choosing A Scenario (see below) for
guidance.

2) Using the Energy Key below, find the energy cost per unit for each stage of the food
system appropriate for the strawberry scenario you selected (i.e. farm, berry form,
etc.). Enter the appropriate values onto the energy cost worksheet.

3) Using a road atlas, determine the approximate distance the strawberries are
transported from farm to market and the distance the consumer travels from the home
to the market and back. Enter distances onto worksheet.

4) Using the Energy Key, determine the length of time the berries will be stored. Enter
the amount onto the worksheet.

5) Choose the amount of strawberries that will be purchased during the trip (Hint: a
quart container of berries weighs approximately 1.3 pounds). Try to be as realistic as
possible. Enter amounts onto worksheet. Note that for the “Consumer” stage of the
food system, you will enter the total weight of food purchased during the shopping
trip. See Energy Key for details.

6) Calculate the total energy use in each stage of the system by performing the
mathematical operations indicated. Enter values onto worksheet.

7) Sum the values for each stage to calculate the total energy used in the food system to
provide x pounds of strawberries for the given strawberry scenario (x = the number of
pounds of strawberries purchased. Note: if less than a pound is purchased, use a
decimal. For example, .5 pounds for a half of a pound).

8) Repeat steps 1 through 7 for as many scenarios* as desired. Compare how energy use
differs depending on the food choices made (i.e. source of strawberries, form
consumed, mode of transportation used by consumer).
* NOTE: A scenario is a hypothetical situation described by several key factors. It is
often compared with variations of the same general situation. For example,
demographers often compare population projections that are calculated based on
different sets of assumptions, such as low, medium and high birth rates. Each set of
assumptions is a scenario.
Table 1. Choosing a scenario.

Category Helpful Information

Farm Type:
Small scale The farmer raises only a few (2 to 4) acres of strawberries and
sells them directly to the customer from a roadside stand or at a
farmer’s market. Few external inputs are used (e.g., fertilizers,
pesticides) and yields are modest.
Retail The farmer raises a medium acreage (approximately 10 acres) of
strawberries and sells them directly to the customer from the
farm (a pick-your-own operation) or from a farmers’ market.
Inputs are greater than small scale and yields are higher.
Wholesale The farmer raises a large acreage (50 or
more acres) of strawberries and sells them
to stores or distributors. There is no
direct connection with the customer. Yields
and inputs tend to be high.
Processing The farmer raises a large acreage (50 or more acres) of
strawberries and sells them to a processing plant to be made into
a strawberry product (such as jam). There is no direct connection
with the customer. Yields and inputs vary.

Berry Form Strawberries are available in a variety of


forms. They are commonly sold fresh,
frozen, or as jams and jellies. The
transformation of berries into different
forms requires additional inputs of
resources.

Market Type
Roadside stand A building (often simple) located on a well-traveled road that is
on or near the farm.
Farmers’ market A large (often open-air) structure at which many farmers sell
produce or other farm products. The market is usually located
near a population center.
Cooperative A medium sized store that sells produce and hundreds of other
Grocer food and non-food items. It is usually oriented toward whole
foods and health-conscious customers. The market is usually
located near a population center.
Supermarket A large store that sells produce and thousands of other food and
non-food items. The market is usually located near a population
center. Availability of local produce may be limited.

Consumer Though the automobile is certainly the most common mode of


Transportation transportation, several options may be available. Consumers may
be able to walk, bike, or take public transit depending on their
proximity to the market and to bus or train service.

Shopping The size of a typical shopping trip can vary greatly, from a short
Information trip to buy milk and bread to a full week’s groceries. Examples
are shown below.
Just berries Assumes that the consumer only buys strawberries. Common for
a trip to a pick-your-own farm or an impulse shopping trip.
Small trip Assumes that the consumer buys strawberries and one-third of
the weekly groceries. Common for a trip to a farmers’ market
where not all foods are available.
Week’s groceries Assumes that the consumer buys strawberries and an entire
week’s groceries. Common for a trip to a supermarket or other
large grocery store.
Table 2. Energy Key.

Fossil energy
Method Comments
cost per unit

Production (farm
type) 1:
Small scale 205 kcal/lb Could be located in any state.
Retail 506 kcal/lb U-pick operation. Consumer can drive to farm.
Wholesale – CA 321 kcal/lb Producing season is April through September.
Wholesale – FL 946 kcal/lb Producing season is January through April.
Wholesale – 803 kcal/lb Producing season mid-May through June.
Northeast
Processing – 390 kcal/lb Processing occurs throughout picking season.
CA/OR

Harvest:
Hand picked 0 kcal/lb All strawberries are considered hand picked

Processing 2:
Canning 261 kcal/lb Assume 1lb berries makes 1lb of jam.
Freezing 825 kcal/lb Assume 1lb berries makes 1lb frozen.
Fresh 0 kcal/lb

Packaging 3:
Glass jar 1,023 kcal/lb For storing jam. Jar holds 16oz (1lb).
Paper box 722 kcal/lb For frozen berries. Box holds 16oz (1lb).
Plastic bag 559 kcal/lb For berries frozen at home. Bag holds 16oz
(1lb).
Wood basket 69 kcal/lb For fresh berries. Basket holds 16oz (1lb).

Storage 4:
Frozen 120 Assume berries stored for 6 months.
kcal/lb/mo
Refrigerated Fresh berries refrigerated during each day of
transport.
Shelf 0 kcal/lb/mo Storage for jam.

Transport 5:
Truck 0.18 Trucks used for wholesale and processed
kcal/lb/mi berries.
Van / Pick-up 2.24 Vans/pick-ups used for small scale and retail
kcal/lb/mi berries.

Consumer 6:
Car (just berries) 1790 kcal/mi Units purchased = wt berries
Car (small trip) 1790 kcal/mi Units purchased = wt berries + 11 lbs/person 7
Car (week’s 1790 kcal/mi Units purchased = wt berries + 32 lbs/person 7
groceries)
Bike or walk 0 kcal/mi

1 – Energy costs of producing strawberries are derived from Galletta and Funt (1980).
Please note the following: the cost shown for “Wholesale – Northeast” is from the energy
budget of Maryland strawberry production (Galletta and Funt, 1980, p. 300); the cost
shown for “Wholesale – CA” is an average of the two California energy budgets (Galletta
and Funt, 1980, p.302-3); the cost shown for “Processing” is a weighted average from
energy budgets of California and Oregon (Galletta and Funt, 1980, p.302-4).
2 – Energy costs of canning and freezing are from Pimentel and Pimentel (1996, p. 188).
3 – Energy costs of packaging are from Pimentel and Pimentel (1996, p. 195)
4 – Energy cost of frozen storage is from Pimentel and Pimentel (1996, p. 188)
5 – Energy cost of transporting strawberries from farm to market based on fuel
efficiency, energy value of fuel, and cargo capacity of vehicle. Fuel efficiencies of
“trucks” and “vans/pickups” are 1999 estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy,
Energy Information Administration (2002). Energy values (in kcal) for diesel and
gasoline are from Cervinka (1980, p 15). Cargo capacity is assumed to be 40,000lbs of
produce for trucks and 1,000lbs of produce for vans/pickups.
6 – Energy cost of consumer driving to and from market based on vehicle fuel efficiency
and energy value of fuel. Fuel efficiencies of “cars” are 1999 estimates from U.S.
Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (2002). Energy values for
gasoline are from Cervinka (1980, p 15).
7 – Distributes the energy cost of traveling to/from market amongst all items purchased
during a shopping trip (not just strawberries). The amount of weight added to weight of
berries based on the average amount of food consumed per capita in the U.S. Food
Supply, 1,670lbs per person per year (Putnum, et al, 2000). A “small trip” assumes 1/3 of
weekly food purchased during trip. A “week’s groceries” assumes that an entire week’s
worth of food is purchased.

Worksheet References:

Cervinka, V. 1980. Fuel and Energy Efficiency. Pages 15-21 in D. Pimentel (ed.)
Handbook of Energy Utilization in Agriculture. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 475pp.

Galletta, G.J. and R.C. Funt. 1980. Representative United States Strawberry Energy
Budgets. Pages 297-306 in D. Pimentel (ed.) Handbook of Energy Utilization in
Agriculture. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 475pp.

Pimentel, D. and M. Pimentel. 1996. Food Processing, Packaging, and Preparation. Pages
186-198 in D. Pimentel and M. Pimentel (eds.) Food, Energy, and Society. University
Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 363pp.
Putnam, J., L.S. Kantor, and J. Allshouse. 2000. Per Capita Food Supply Trends:
Progress toward Dietary Guidelines. FoodReview 23(3): 2-14.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2002. Table 2.8: Motor
Vehicle Mileage, Fuel Consumption, and Fuel Rates, 1949-1999. Page 57 in Annual
Energy Review 2000. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 379pp.
(Available online: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/aerpdf.html)
Energy Cost Worksheet:

SCENARIO: Strawberry form: frozen .


Farm information (production type & location): wholesale – central
valley, CA .
Market information (type of market & location): supermarket - Ithaca, NY
Consumer information (mode of transportation & location): drives car -
Ithaca, NY .
Shopping information (# of people and size of trip): small trip for 2
people .

Stage in food Energy cost per Distance Amount Total energy


system unit traveled purchased use
(duration
stored)

Production 390 × NA × 2 lbs = 780 kcal

kcal/lb

Harvest 0 × NA × 2 lbs = 0
kcal/lb kcal

Processing 825 × NA × 2 lbs = 1650 kcal

kcal/lb

Packaging 722 × NA × 2 lbs = 1444 kcal

kcal/lb

Storage 120 × 4 mo × 2 lbs = 960


kcal/lb/mo kcal

Transport 0.18 × 2700 mi × 2 lbs = 972


kcal/lb/mi kcal

Consumer 1790 × 5 mi ÷ 24 lbs = 373


kcal/mi kcal

All stages 6179 kcal


Energy Cost Worksheet

SCENARIO: Strawberry form: fresh .


Farm information (production type & location): small scale – central NY
.
Market information (type of market & location): farmers’ market - Ithaca,
NY .
Consumer information (mode of transportation & location): walks - Ithaca, NY
. Shopping information (# of people and size of trip): just buying berries
for 2 people .

Stage in food Energy cost Distance Amount Total energy


system per unit traveled purchased use
(duration
stored)

Production __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Harvest __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Processing __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Packaging __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Storage __________ × __________ × _______ = __________

Transport __________ × __________ × _______ = __________

Consumer __________ × __________ ÷ _______ = __________

All stages __________


Energy Cost Worksheet

SCENARIO: Strawberry form: __________________________

Farm information (type of production & location):

_____________________________________________

Market information (type of market & location):

_______________________________________________

Consumer information (mode of transportation & location):

_____________________________________ Shopping information (# of people

shopped for & size of trip): ___________________________________

Stage in food Energy cost Distance Amount Total energy


system per unit traveled purchased use
(duration
stored)

Production __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Harvest __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Processing __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Packaging __________ × NA × _______ = __________

Storage __________ × __________ × _______ = __________

Transport __________ × __________ × _______ = __________

Consumer __________ × __________ ÷ _______ = __________

All stages __________


Activity 3: Local and Global Food Systems – Energy Comparison
Follow-up

Summary
After getting an idea of the energy used in both local and global
food systems, it is now time to consider some of the questions and
problems that arise in trying to eat locally. It is important to remember
that this food system exercise is a simulation and is not meant to be an
accurate accounting of exactly how much energy and resources are
needed and how much pollution or garbage are generated by the
systems. It does give a fairly good idea of the various places in the food
system where energy is used and is a good approach for showing how
food systems differ.

Materials
• Photocopy of “Steps in the Food System” list from Lesson 2
• Energy worksheets and materials from Activity 2
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
Prepare photocopies as needed and review questions.

Class itself
Discuss with someone else the worksheets you filled out in Activity 2.
You may want to use the “Steps in the Food System” list to remember
each step as you talk about them.

Guiding Questions
o What made the biggest difference between the two
systems for energy use?
o How can the food system be changed to decrease the
amount of energy used and pollution generated?
o Is it better to eat a local conventionally grown strawberry,
or one that is grown organically on a farm 2,500 miles
away, packaged, then shipped to a local market?
o What would happen if we only bought strawberries from
California?
o What if we only bought strawberries locally?
o If we only buy locally, who will buy strawberries from
California?
o Is it always possible to eat locally? Are there foods that
we cannot grow in the north that we have to eat?
o Assuming you can only purchase local foods at the
farmers’ market but you have to buy all your other
groceries at the supermarket, would we still have the
same amount of energy consumption for the local
system?
o How are the two paths we followed different? Did we
compare the same number of strawberries being
produced and transported?
o Where do you get your food?
o Have you ever seen any fruits and vegetables labeled in
the supermarket so you can tell where it is from?
Activity 4: Miles in Your Breakfast

Summary
Now that you have compared global and local systems with respect
to energy consumed, it is time to apply that knowledge to your own daily
habits, in this case eating breakfast!

Materials
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
Review Background information as needed

Class itself
• List all of the foods you have in a typical breakfast. This could be a
typical weekday or weekend breakfast. Do not only list the item, for
example French toast, but all the ingredients that go into the item
– eggs, milk, bread (wheat, etc.) – as well as what goes on it, the
syrup, butter, and possibly jam. What beverages are in the
breakfast? Orange juice or apple juice? Coffee perhaps? Or hot
chocolate?
• If you are working with a group, once each person has a list of
individual food items, construct a master breakfast from these
individual lists and put it on a board in front of everyone.
• Going through each item, think about or discuss with someone
else where it was probably grown or raised. Which items are or can
be produced locally? Which items are homemade and which are
store-bought? (For example, French toast can be made at home
but it can also be bought frozen)
Activity 5: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Lesson 3.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal” (one per student)
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed.

Class itself
In the journal, you will be able to study one of your own meals and
the food system it comes from in terms of the resources needed and
used.
Questions of the Day:
¾ Describe a meal you ate yesterday or today.

¾ Did you help prepare the meal?

¾ Where do you think the foods in your meal came from before it was in
the grocery store or your cafeteria?

¾ What are some resources that were used to grow or produce these
foods?

¾ Were any of the foods packaged before you ate them?

¾ What resources were needed to make these materials


If time permits, a good way to put this lesson into the context of
your lives is to examine a food you commonly eat. A discussion about
pizza is really engaging for everyone. First consider what ingredients
go into making a pizza. Make a list of where all of the ingredients
come from. If you want to make a pizza, you must collect all of the
ingredients and bring them to one place. This uses a lot of energy
and resources. How does the food system path of the pizza compare
to the path of the strawberry? Could we fit all of the resources and
energy into that same bowl? Consider an entire day’s worth of food.
When you begin to think about it, our food system is very
complicated. A lot of resources and energy is used to bring food from
the field to table. Even small changes to the system that save
resources and energy can have a great effect on our environment.

For an enlightening and fun web-based activity, calculate their


“environmental footprint.” “Calculate Your Ecological Foot Print” at
<http://www.lead.org/leadnet/footprint/intro.htm> provides 13
simple questions that will assess your use of nature. The site is
sponsored by Redefining Progress <http://www.rprogress.org/>, a
non-profit research and policy organization that develops policies and
tools to reorient the economy so that it will value people and nature
first.
Commencement Level/ Independent Thinkers
Food for Thought Journal 2

Things to think about:


* How would you describe a food system?

* Using the produce section of your newspaper ads, see if you can
discover if produce sold is grown locally, regionally or globally. Record 10
produce items that are being sold this week and record where they are
grown.
Produce sold this Local Regional Global Specific location
week
Red Delicious apples X Washington State
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Migrant workers are employed by processors and farmers to help get the
produce from the farmer to the consumer.

What do you know about the migrant workers?

About their lives?

About their wages?

About their benefits?

How do they affect our food system?

What questions do you now have about our food system?

Where or who would you go to get these questions answered?


Background
Food systems can be characterized as, “local”, regional” and
“global.” The distinctions between these different systems are based on
the distances between the sources of the food (where it is grown, raised
or caught) and the place where it is purchased for consumption. Another
important distinction between these systems is the hidden costs and
benefits of each that do not show up in the price we pay for food. For
example, the global system uses anywhere from 4 to 7 times as much
energy (fuel to transport the food), and produces 5 to 17 times more CO2
(from the burning of the fuel) than a regional or local food system. Local
food systems, or “community food systems” are thought to benefit the
local economy by keeping food-related enterprises nearby and employing
residents of a community, by keeping local farms in business, and by
keeping the rural landscapes agricultural. In such a system, there is an
emphasis on the development and maintaining of relationships between
people in different sectors in the food system – farmers, processors,
distributors, and consumer, for example.

Much of the food found in a grocery store arrived there through a


food system that is global – local supermarkets are supplied by national
and international sources. Regional food systems are based on the
existing state distribution infrastructure. A cooperative network of state
farmers that supply state retailers and wholesalers, distributed in large
semi-trailer and mid-size trucks, characterizes a regional food system. By
contrast a local food system is one in which much of the food is
marketed directly from farmers to consumers through community
supported agriculture (CSA) enterprises and farmers’ markets, or
through institutional markets such as restaurants, hospitals, and
conference centers, using light, relatively small trucks for delivery.
Because food is marketed directly, local food systems are generally
confined to a relatively smaller geographic area – what can be delivered
by truck within a few hours. Examples of local food systems include
farmers’ markets, roadside stands, on-farm sales, U-pick operations,
production/processing/retail enterprises, and sales directly to hotels,
restaurants, bed-and-breakfast inns, and institutions.

A community food system is a food system in which food


production, processing, distribution and consumption are integrated to
enhance the environmental, economic, social, and nutritional needs of a
particular geographic location (Garrett and Feenstra. 1999). Since food-
producing businesses are located within the community they are also
stakeholders in the healthfulness of their food production practices. Due
to this close relationship between the food production industries within a
community, many inputs necessary for food production, processing,
transportation and distribution are reduced.
In addition to the environmental benefits to local food production,
there are many community benefits to a strong local food system as
discussed in the Community Food System Primer. Although it may not
be possible in some areas of this country, in the Northeast it is possible
to eat local and regional foods year round and maintain a balanced and
varied diet. This means that most of the northeastern communities are
capable of creating strong community food systems. Community food
systems support local economy, food security and maintain healthy
green spaces within the community.

Since certain areas of the country can produce large quantities of


particular foods at low prices, much of the market for those foods has
shifted to the global food system. When viewing the global system as a
whole, it appears that production has increased to meet the demands of
the population. Along with these changes, the distribution of farms and
agricultural business has shifted as well. While the local food systems
are participants in the global food systems, their contribution is
diminishing because many smaller businesses are unable to compete
with larger production farms in the country. The issues surrounding the
globalization of our food system are complex and extensive. There are
significant benefits to our global community while our local communities
may experience many of the drawbacks of globalization (Harmon et al.
1999).

In the past 30 years there has been a significant global increase in


fossil fuel use. One reason for the rise in U.S. fossil fuel use is the
increased use of trucks to transport goods. In 1965, there were 787,000
combination trucks registered in the United States, and these vehicles
consumed 6.658 billion gallons of fuel. In 1997, there were 1,790,000
combination trucks that used 20.3 billion gallons of fuel. Many of these
trucks transport food throughout the country. A study conducted by the
Center for Agricultural Business indicated that in California alone more
than 485,000 truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables leave the state
every year and travel from 100 to 2,100 miles to reach their destinations.

The supply of fossil fuel to meet this increasing demand is one


issue (the peak in oil production is predicted to occur in 5 to 20 years),
but another important issue is the carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases
that are released when fossil fuels are used. These gases absorb heat and
may contribute to an increase in global warming. As fuel use goes up, so
does the release of CO2 and other gases. Total world carbon emission
from fossil fuel burning more than quadrupled since 1950. Emissions
totaled 1,612 million tons in 1950, 3,997 in 1970, 5,939 in 1990 and
6,480 in 2000. The United States, which accounts for 24 percent of the
global total, registered an 18.1-percent increase between 1990 and 2000.
For more information about Community Food Systems, see the
Community Food System Primer included with these lessons.

About the lesson…

The basic concept used in this lesson is to create a model of the food
system that will demonstrate how interconnected many aspects of the
food system are. We hope to demonstrate how complicated the
system is that brings food from the field to our table. In order to help
you understand this complex system we used a simplified model that
we can experience and touch. This technique allows us to
understand the complexities beyond the model more easily. While the
preparation may seem complicated, in practice this lesson will provide
an interactive, exciting learning tool that will enable us to explore
complex aspects of the food system.

A Food Mile is the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised
to where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer or other end-user.
One 1969 estimate of miles traveled by food in the United States cited an
average distance of 1,346 miles. Calculations in another study examining
transportation and fuel requirements estimated that fresh produce in the
United States traveled an estimated 1,500 miles. An analysis of the
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s 1997 arrival data from Jessup,
Maryland, found that the average pound of produce distributed at the
facility traveled more than 1,685 miles, with the average distance for
fruits being 2,146 and the average for vegetables 1,596 miles.

Energy vs. Resource

In the lesson we refer to both "Energy" and "Resources". This can


be confusing since energy is a resource. Resources in the context of this
lesson are meant to be any inputs necessary, other than energy
resources necessary for the step in the food system. A resource may be
water, paper, soil, or glass, for example. Energy should be discussed as
the input of electricity (from fossil fuels or otherwise), gasoline, or other
sources of power needed for the step in the food system. They are
distinguished from one another to make it easier to observe the
differences in energy inputs for the local and global systems versus the
other inputs. We need to be aware that to produce many of the Resource
inputs, energy is required. For example, an initial energy input is
required to prepare cardboard for cardboard boxes. In order to make the
lesson manageable we need to put some limitations on how energy
consumption is represented. Therefore we do not consider the energy
required to produce the inputs into the system.
One website of interest on this subject is:
http://www.ag.iastate.edu/centers/leopold/pubinfo/papersspeeches/pp
p/intro.html
Lesson 4:
Food Labels and the Food System

Summary
Food Labels and the Food System helps us learn what kinds of
information can be found on food labels and how to read the Nutrition
Facts table. We will become familiar with the current standard for food
labeling – what food manufactures are required to include – as well as
what some voluntarily include. Food labels primarily provide information
about what is inside the product, the nutrient content, number of
calories, and any additives
Additionally, this lesson provides an opportunity to develop different
kinds of food labels that provide information about the "food system" that
is “inside” a food package. What is on food labels (and what is not) can
provide insights into why our food system is often mysterious and hard
to understand.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we should be able to:
• Identify the major components of a food label.
• List 3 of the nutrients included on the “nutrition facts” labels.
• Become aware of health claims on food products.
• Become familiar with words used to describe aspects of food
products.
• Develop 2 food system messages for a food product label.

Key Concepts
• Food Labeling
• Nutrition Facts
• Costs versus Prices
• Ingredients
• Food System Labeling
“Getting to the Core”

This is a “Nutrition Fact” label found on a jar of applesauce. Notice the


nutrients that are included and the ingredients in this apple product.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size ½ cup
__________
Amount Per Serving
Calories 52
Calories from Fat 0
_________________________
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Potassium 170mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 16g
Protein 0g
_________________________

Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 0% Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on


a 2000-calorie diet. Your daily
values may be higher or lower
depending on your calorie needs

Ingredients: Apples, Vitamin C

Activities
• Reading Food Labels
• Food System Labels
• Food for Thought Journal

Going Further

Background
Activity 1: Reading Food Labels

Summary
The first step to understanding how food labels may or may not
illuminate our understanding of the food system is to become familiar
with the information contained on the labels themselves and in what
order.

Materials
• Packaged foods (or the food labels from the packages). These
should include the Nutrition Facts Table and Ingredients List.
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Collect packaged foods as appropriate. Review Background
materials.

Class itself
1. Choose one of the food packages.
2. Identify the different components of the food label - product
name, manufacture and address, distributor, Nutrition Facts
Table, Ingredients List.
3. Review the Nutrition Facts Table and list the different nutrients
that are listed. What do the numbers following each mean?
4. What else is on the food label? Are there any health claims? Is
there any information that is directly related to the composition
of the food? What is that information?
5. Look at the Background information on food labels with respect
to the package used as an example. What are the DRV’s and
RDI’s?
6. Repeat with other food packages. Are all food labels the same?
What similarities and differences exist?
Activity 2: Food System Labels

Summary
Now that we understand the content of food labels and what is and
is not included, we can see how food labels may be improved to inform
us about the food system.

Materials
• Photocopies of the Food System Inquiry Guide
• Food labels and packages from Activity 1
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
Prepare photocopies and collect food labels as needed.

Class itself
1. Review the food system model from Lesson 2
2. For each part of the food system, think about what information
you would like to have on a food label. List the suggestions on
the board or paper.
3. After brainstorming on this, look at the Food System Inquiry
Guide, and think of additional questions that might be
answered on a food label. (Note: some of the questions on the
Food System Inquiry Guide are already answered on standard
food labels. Can you pick these out?)
Activity 3: Food For Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Lesson 4.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself
In the journal, you will be able to use foods found in your home
cupboards to examine the food labels and see what information from the
food system is contained within.
Questions of the Day:
¾ Describe the food label of a product you have in a cupboard at home.

¾ What nutrition information do you find on the label?

¾ What information is there about how the food was grown? If there is
none, what kind of information would you like to see about how the
food was grown?

¾ What kind of information is on the food package about where the food
was grown? If there is none, what kind of information would you like
to see there?

¾ Is there any information on the label about the processing, or


packaging of this food product?
Commencement Level/ Independent Thinkers

Food for Thought Journal 2

Things to think about:

List the steps within a food system.

About which of these steps can you learn something from the
information on a food label?

What would a food system food label look like?

What are the most important food system facts to put on a label?
Background

The information found on a food label can help us make informed


choices about what to eat. Food labels provide information about its
manufacturer and its nutritional content. Health claims about the food
are also allowed.

The Food Label


Under regulations from the Food and Drug Administration of the
Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and
Inspection Service of the U.S.Department of Agriculture, the food label
offers complete, useful nutrition information about food products found
in the grocery store. Food labels provide nutrition information about
most food items in the grocery store. This includes information on the
amount per serving of saturated fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and other
nutrients of major health concern. Food labels also provide nutrient
reference values, expressed as % Daily Values, that help consumers see
how a food fits into an overall daily diet. There are uniform definitions for
terms that describe a food's nutrient content--such as "light," "low-fat,"
and "high-fiber"--to ensure that such terms mean the same for any
product on which they appear. Health claims -- claims about the
relationship between a nutrient or food and a disease or health-related
condition, such as calcium and osteoporosis, and fat and cancer – are
also clearly stated and defined.

NLEA
FDA's rules published in 1992 and 1993 implement the Nutrition
Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), which, among other things,
“requires nutrition labeling for most foods (except meat and poultry) and
authorizes the use of nutrient content claims and appropriate FDA-
approved health claims. Meat and poultry products regulated by USDA
are not covered by NLEA. However, USDA's regulations closely parallel
FDA's rules.”

If a health or nutrient-content claim is made about a food, FDA


requires nutrition information be displayed as well.

What is a Health Claim?


A health claim is a statement of a relationship between a nutrient
or a food and the risk of a disease or health-related condition. A health
claim can be in the form of a third-party reference (such as the National
Cancer Institute), a statement, a symbol (such as a heart), or a vignette
or description. There are very clear guidelines for how claims can be
stated and there are 10 specific nutrient-disease relationship claims that
are allowed:
• Calcium and osteoporosis
• Fat and cancer
• Saturated fat and cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD)
• Fiber-containing grain products, fruits and vegetables and cancer
• Fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain fiber and risk of
CHD
• Sodium and hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Fruits and vegetables and cancer
• Folic acid and neural tube defects
• Dietary sugar alcohols and dental caries (cavities)

The food must contain specified levels of the nutrient in the claim
in order for the claim to be made. The claim also must be phrased so
that consumers can understand the relationship between the nutrient
and the disease and the nutrient's importance in relationship to a daily
diet. An acceptable example of a claim is: "While many factors affect
heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the
risk of this disease."

Do all foods carry Nutrition Labeling?


No. There are several foods that are exempt from the nutritional
labeling requirements:
• foods served for immediate consumption, such as those served in
hospital cafeterias and airplanes, and those sold by food service
vendors--for example, an ice cream store in your local mall.
• cookie counters, sidewalk vendors, and vending machines
• ready-to-eat foods that are not for immediate consumption but are
prepared primarily on site--for example, at a bakery, deli, and
candy store
• food shipped in bulk, as long as it is not for sale in that form to
consumers
• medical foods, such as those used to address the nutritional needs
of patients with certain diseases
• plain coffee and tea, some spices, and other foods that contain no
significant amounts of any nutrients.

Nutrition Information Panel


In the "Nutrition Facts" panel, food manufacturers are required to
provide information on certain nutrients. The mandatory (underlined)
and voluntary components and the order in which they must appear are:

total calories
calories from fat
calories from saturated fat
total fat
saturated fat
polyunsaturated fat
monounsaturated fat
cholesterol
sodium
potassium
total carbohydrate
dietary fiber
soluble fiber
insoluble fiber
sugars
sugar alcohol (for example, the sugar substitutes xylitol, mannitol and
sorbitol)
other carbohydrate (the difference between total carbohydrate and the
sum of dietary fiber, sugars, and sugar alcohol if declared)
protein
vitamin A
percent of vitamin A present as beta-carotene
vitamin C
calcium
iron
other essential vitamins and minerals

The required nutrients were selected because they address today's


health concerns and our understanding of the relationship between diet
and health. The order in which they must appear reflects the priority of
current dietary recommendations.

The amount, in grams or milligrams, of macronutrients (such as


fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and protein) is still listed to the
immediate right of these nutrients. But, for the first time, a column
headed "% Daily Value" appears on the far right side. Declaring nutrients
as a percentage of the Daily Values is intended to prevent
misinterpretations that arise with quantitative values. For example, a
food with 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium could be mistaken for a high-
sodium food because 140 is a relatively large number. In actuality,
however, that amount represents less than 6 percent of the Daily Value
for sodium, which is 2,400 mg.

Serving Sizes
The serving size is the basis for reporting each food's nutrient
content. It is uniform and reflects the amounts of a food people actually
eat. Servings are expressed in both common household and metric
measures. NLEA defines serving size as the amount of food customarily
eaten at one time. The serving sizes that appear on food labels are based
on FDA-established lists of "Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed
Per Eating Occasion."

FDA allows as common household measures: the cup, tablespoon,


teaspoon, piece, slice, fraction (such as "1/4 pizza"), and common
household containers used to package food products (such as a jar or
tray). Ounces may be used, but only if a common household unit is not
applicable and an appropriate visual unit is given--for example, 1 oz
(28g/about 1/2 pickle). Grams (g) and milliliters (mL) are the metric
units that are used in serving size statements.

Daily Values--DRVs
The new label reference value, the Daily Value, comprises two sets
of dietary standards: Daily Reference Values (DRVs) and Reference Daily
Intakes (RDIs). Only the Daily Value term appears on the label, although,
to make label reading less confusing. DRVs have been established for
macronutrients that are sources of energy: fat, saturated fat, total
carbohydrate (including fiber), and protein; as well as for cholesterol,
sodium and potassium, which do not contribute calories.

DRVs for the energy-producing nutrients are based on the number


of calories consumed per day. A daily intake of 2,000 calories has been
established as the reference. This level was chosen, in part, because it
approximates the caloric requirements for postmenopausal women. This
group has the highest risk for excessive intake of calories and fat.

DRVs for the energy-producing nutrients are calculated as follows:

• fat based on 30 percent of calories


• saturated fat based on 10 percent of calories
• carbohydrate based on 60 percent of calories
• protein based on 10 percent of calories. (The DRV for protein
applies only to adults and children over 4. RDIs for protein for
special groups have been established.)
• fiber based on 11.5 g of fiber per 1,000 calories.

Because of current public health recommendations, DRVs for some


nutrients represent the uppermost limit that is considered desirable. The
DRVs for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium are:

• total fat: less than 65 g


• saturated fat: less than 20 g
• cholesterol: less than 300 mg
• sodium: less than 2,400 mg
Daily Values--RDIs
"Reference Daily Intake" replaced the term "U.S. RDA," which was
introduced in 1973 as a label reference value for vitamins, minerals and
protein in voluntary nutrition labeling. The name change was sought
because of confusion that existed over "U.S. RDAs," the values
determined by FDA and used on food labels, and "RDAs" (Recommended
Dietary Allowances), the values determined by the National Academy of
Sciences for various population groups and used by FDA to figure the
U.S. RDAs. However, the values for the new RDIs remain the same as
the old U.S. RDAs for the time being.

Nutrient Content Claims


The regulations also spell out what terms may be used to describe
the level of a nutrient in a food and how they can be used. These are the
core terms:

• Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or


only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or
more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium,
sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than
5 calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean
less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for "free" include "without,"
"no" and "zero." A synonym for fat-free milk is "skim."
• Low. This term can be used on foods that can be eaten frequently
without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these
components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories.
Thus, descriptors are defined as follows:
Low-fat: 3g or less per serving
Low-saturated fat: 1g or less per serving
Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
Very low sodium: 35mg or less per serving
Low-cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated
fat per serving
low-calorie: 40 calories or less per serving
Synonyms for low include “little,” “few,” “low source of,” and
“contains a small amount of.”
• Lean and extra lean. These terms can be used to describe the fat
content of meat, poultry, seafood, and game meats.
lean: less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g or less saturated fat, and less
than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
extra lean: less than 5 g fat, less than 2 g saturated fat, and
less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
• High. This term can be used if the food contains 20 percent or
more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient in a serving.
• Good source. This term means that one serving of a food contains
10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient.
• Reduced. This term means that a nutritionally altered product
contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than
the regular, or reference, product. However, a reduced claim
cannot be made on a product if its reference food already meets the
requirement for a "low" claim.
• Less. This term means that a food, whether altered or not, contains
25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the reference food.
For example, pretzels that have 25 percent less fat than potato
chips could carry a "less" claim. "Fewer" is an acceptable synonym.
• Light. This descriptor can mean two things: First, that a
nutritionally altered product contains one-third fewer calories or
half the fat of the reference food. If the food derives 50 percent or
more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of
the fat. Second, that the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat
food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, "light in sodium"
may be used on food in which the sodium content has been
reduced by at least 50 percent. The term "light" still can be used to
describe such properties as texture and color, as long as the label
explains the intent--for example, "light brown sugar" and "light and
fluffy."
• More. This term means that a serving of food, whether altered or
not, contains a nutrient that is at least 10 percent of the Daily
Value more than the reference food. The 10 percent of Daily Value
also applies to "fortified," "enriched," "added," and "extra and plus"
claims, but in those cases, the food must be altered.
• Alternative spelling of these descriptive terms and their synonyms
are allowed--for example, "hi" and "lo"--as long as the alternatives
are not misleading.
• Healthy. A "healthy" food must be low in fat and saturated fat and
contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium. In addition, if
it is a single-item food, it must provide at least 10 percent of one or
more of vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber. Exempt
from this "10-percent" rule are certain raw, canned and frozen
fruits and vegetables and certain cereal-grain products. These
foods can be labeled "healthy," if they do not contain ingredients
that change the nutritional profile, and, in the case of enriched
grain products, conform to standards of identity, which call for
certain required ingredients. If it's a meal-type product, such as
frozen entrees and multi-course frozen dinners, it must provide 10
percent of two or three of these vitamins or minerals or of protein
or fiber, in addition to meeting the other criteria. The sodium
content cannot exceed 360 mg per serving for individual foods and
480 mg per serving for meal-type products.
'Fresh'
Although not mandated by NLEA, FDA has issued a regulation for
the term "fresh." The agency took this step because of concern over the
term's possible misuse on some food labels.

The regulation defines the term "fresh" when it is used to suggest


that a food is raw or unprocessed. In this context, "fresh" can be used
only on a food that is raw, has never been frozen or heated, and contains
no preservatives. (Irradiation at low levels is allowed.) "Fresh frozen,"
"frozen fresh," and "freshly frozen" can be used for foods that are quickly
frozen while still fresh. Blanching (brief scalding before freezing to
prevent nutrient breakdown) is allowed.

Other uses of the term "fresh," such as in "fresh milk" or "freshly


baked bread," are not affected.

Ingredient Labeling
Ingredient Labeling, or declaring what is in a food product, is
required on all foods that have more than one ingredient. Because people
may be allergic to certain additives, identifying all ingredients helps them
better avoid those harmful to them.

Lesson Resources
FDA
General Inquiries: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).
Food Safety Hotline: 1-800-332-4010
FDA's food label information on the Web: www.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html.

USDA
Food Safety Education and Communication Office
1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Room 1180
Washington, DC 20250
Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555.
Section 2:
Discovering the Food System Project
This section provides a guide for conducting a Discovering The
Food System project. You are provided with tools for exploring your food
system. What you choose to focus on and the methods you use are
flexible and should be guided by your own individual interests, or the
interests of the class, club, or group with whom you are working. It is
this flexibility that will insure a high level of engagement on your part.
The food system discovery is accomplished through a search of existing
food system facts, food product or meal analyses, and interviews with
people who represent the food system, as well as a public survey about
some aspect of the food system that interests you the most. The program
does not end with discovery, however.

Step 1: Finding Food System Facts provides tools and guidelines to


locating and understanding data that has already been collected
on the food system, and is therefore available for use and
interpretation. This is similar to the processes being used
across the country to conduct community food assessments.
Also, food systems stories are frequently in the news. You will
learn about the breadth of issues related to the food system that
you might read about in any daily newspaper.

Step 2: Learning from People in the Food System will help you gain
a better understanding of your food system by helping you
interview some of the people that you will identify as being part
of the food system. This step in the food system project builds
on the previous step by guiding you in a process of clarifying
the aspects of the food system that most interest you,
identifying who is directly involved in those aspects, and
formulating questions about issues for those most likely to have
interesting insights. This step in the Discovering The Food
System project provides an opportunity to gain experience with
a qualitative social science methodology: the open-ended in-
person interview. You will practice basic interviewing
techniques in a role play, contact community members who are
part of the food system, arrange to meet them, and finally,
actually conduct in-person interviews.
Step 3: Community Survey – Getting Ready provides you with an
opportunity to gain experience with a classic quantitative social
science methodology: the survey. By now you will have learned
a lot about the food system, how it has changed over time, how
it works (and does not work), who makes decisions that help
shape it, and how people can make change in the food system.
In the in-person interviews and gathering of food system facts,
several interests, questions and concerns undoubtedly will have
surfaced. Here, you will get a chance to learn how some
segment of the broader community feels about these issues.
You will learn how to design a questionnaire, and chose a
population sample before distributing the survey and compiling
the results.

Step 4: Conducting a Community Survey will help you to move


from preparing the survey to actually conducting it. You will
learn how to prepare a survey for distribution, deciding what
method of distribution is best for your needs, as well as how to
collect and compile the results mathematically.

Step 5: Sharing Food System Stories with Your Community


introduces you to the tools for you need to share your newly
obtained food system understandings with the community with
an eye for creating community change. You will learn about the
potential impact information can have on policies in a school, or
in the broader community. (Story telling, Newspaper articles,
Reporters, Community Action and Change, PowerPoint
projects.)
Step 1:
Finding Food System Facts
Summary

In the previous section, we had an opportunity to consider some of the


important issues about the food system. As we develop our food system
project, we will be able to interview members of the food production
system and survey a community of consumers. However, before we
begin investigating our local community food system, we need to become
aware of some of the basic facts about our personal food system. This
lesson will help develop skills for gathering some important food system
data by using community resources at hand. The information we acquire
will show how the food system has changed in recent years. For each
fact we find in our hunt, we will need to cite the sources of our
information. Upon completing this lesson, we will be better armed with
the facts to go on with our own exploration of our local food system. We
will also have used that information to choose our Discovering the Food
System project topic.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we should be able to:
• Use a variety of resources to gather information about our
community and local food system.
• Interpret graphs and describe changes in the food system
• Begin to consider why these changes have been occurring

Key Concepts
• Population
• Commodities
• Community
• Cooperative Extension
• Resources
“Getting to the Core”
Would you believe this? One out of every ten pounds of apples grown in
the United States comes from New York State. Indeed, New York is the
one of the largest producers of apples in the country, second only to
Washington State. On average, New York farmers produce over one
billion pounds of apples annually∗. That’s enough to give every person
who lives in New York City an apple every day of the year!

As impressive as this number sounds, New York used to produce even


more apples than it does today. The record high year for apple
production was 1896, when New York farmers harvested an astounding
54 million bushels or approximately 2.6 billion pounds. In contrast, the
record low for apple production was a scant 2 million bushels or
approximately 100 million pounds in 1945. Despite the occasional
vagaries of agriculture, apples continue to be a mainstay of New York
farm production and remain one of America’s favorite fruits. Have you
had your apple today?

Activities
• Preparing for the search
• Developing your search
• Searching for specific food system data
• Food for Thought Journal

Going Further

Background


Average annual production of apples in New York State was 1,083 million pounds during the last decade,
1991-2000 (New York Agricultural Statistics Service, 2001).
Activity 1: Preparing for the search

Summary
To hunt for information about your community's food system you
will need to use many resources. This activity is intended to help you
find those resources. In order to orient you to the process of information
gathering, there are specific basic facts you should start off with. The
search for this information will help give you the basic picture of different
aspects of your food system

Materials
• Photocopies of Food System Fact Hunt worksheet
• Pens/pencils
• Telephone directory, telephone, or access to the Internet on a
computer

Before class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself
• Fill out the Part 1 of the worksheet. It contains basic
information you will need, including population data, the type
and number of food system-related businesses in your
community and the amount of food production that occurs.
Name of team/group

Name of individuals

Directions: There are two parts to this activity. Use the resources
provided to search for the facts about food systems for the first part. For
the second part, fill in the questions you have developed and the
information you discover regarding those questions. Make sure always
to include the year the data is from. Good luck, search away!

If you are doing this project at the “commencement level,” estimate your
answers in the left-hand margin before you research the material.
Compare the results after the research is done and record variations and
reasons for the differences in your journal.

If you are doing this project in a group, such as a class setting, divide
into 3 sections and have each group take one section (For example: one
group take the US data, one group take the state data and one group
collect the county data). Compare results using overhead transparencies
or posters.

Part 1
My State is:

My County is:

My Town/City is:

United States Data

Source: govinfo.library.orst.edu/stateis.html

The population of the United States is _______________________________

Source: www.ers.usda.gov/epubs/other/usfact/US.HTM

Total Percentage employed in farm or farm-related jobs:


Total Percentage employed in food production only:

Percentage of total land area used for farmland:

Most farms in the US are (circle):

Family Owned Partnerships Corporation Other

The average age of farmers in the US is:

Source: www.usda.gov/nass/aggraphs/graphics.htm

The number of farms in the US in 1910:

The number of farms in the US in 1995:

The number of US farm workers Increased / Decreased from 1910 to


1995. (Circle one)

In 1910, farm workers earned _________ per hour.


In 1995, farm workers earned _________ per hour.
In 1910, there were _________ million farm workers in the US.
In 1995, there were _________ million farm workers in the US.

State Data
Source: govinfo.library.orst.edul

The population of my state is _____________________________

Source: www.ers.usda.gov/epubs/other/usfact/

Total Percentage employed in farm or farm-related jobs:

Total Percentage employed in food production only:

Percentage of total land area used for farmland:

Most farms in my state are (circle):

Family Owned Partnerships Corporation Other

The average age of farmers in my state is:


Top 5 Commodities produced in my state:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Top 5 Commodities exported from my state:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

County Data

Source: govinfo.library.orst.edu

The population of my county is ___________________________

The number of farms in my county:

The number of farms with milk cows:

The number of farms with beef cows:

The major crops produced on farms in my county are:

The major crops / commodities exported from my state are:

Guiding questions about the research might include one of these:

What is happening to the number of farms in your county (local), state


(regional) or our country (global)?

What is happening to the ownership of these farms?

Is it important to know the commodities produces and exported by your


state? Why?
Part 2

Group Research Topic:

Website: _______________________________________________________________

Facts:

Website: _______________________________________________________________

Facts:

Website:
________________________________________________________________

Facts:

Website:
________________________________________________________________

Facts:
Activity 2: Developing your search

Summary

In order for you to direct your search further, you need


topics that will engage your interest and lead to further study.
This activity aims to help you find those topics and narrow
your choices down to a few manageable possibilities.

Materials
• Your Lesson 3, Section 1 Food for Thought Journal entry
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
If this is activity is being used with a group, it will help if the leader
searches for the information prior to the lesson. This will help in
directing students in a way that is maximizes the use of class time.
Review Background information as needed.

Class Itself
1. In the Lesson 3, Section 1 Food for Thought Journal, you listed
questions you had about the food system. For this lesson, you can
either use these ideas or develop other ideas for topics of your
Discovering the Food System project. Your ideas should reflect
what in the food system you would like to know more about. You
should find at least one issue related to the food system that you
would like to explore further. Examples include: the number of
farms in the county where you live, kinds of crops grown, number
of supermarkets, farmers’ markets, community gardens, etc.
2. Compile a list of topics to research from your ideas. Pick a topic to
research about the food system. You may want to ask others what
they think is important to learn more about. Once you have
chosen a key topic to investigate, create a list of specific data and
information that would help you understand more about the topic.
Make sure to define the topic well enough that you can search for
the information using the resources and websites provided in this
lesson.
Activity 3: Searching for specific food system data

Summary
Now that we have started familiarizing ourselves with how to
search the World Wide Web or other resources for local statistical data
and found some topics of interest to focus on, it is time to start our
search for specific food system data.

Materials
• Worksheets from Activity 1
• Photocopies of Background material as appropriate, access to
the internet or local phone books
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself
1. Fill out Part 2 of the worksheet.

Note: If you are using the Internet, there is a large amount of data
available about many aspects of the food system. Included in the
Background material for this lesson you will find a list of websites with
great food system and agricultural facts that cover a variety of topics.
The websites will provide general data and graphs that summarize much
of the pertinent statistical data you want.
If you are using community resources, there are many helpful people
working in your community. While searching for information, keep track
of people's names and departments in the agencies you call. If you have
further questions later on, you can contact those people again. Also,
when searching out specific information it may take quite a few phone
calls and transfers before you find the right person to speak with. You
do not want to accidentally call the same people again and again! If you
feel overwhelmed by the thought of calling people you do not know to ask
for information, get help from someone else like a parent or teacher or
friend. Seeking information over the phone is often a daunting task!
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Step 1.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself
In the journal, you will have time to reflect on your newly
completed fact hunt. If you are working as part of a group, use these
questions as a way to discuss your results with others in the group or
other groups who may be researching different topics. Blending what you
have found with what others have found can provide a bigger picture of
what is happening in the food system. Finally, through discussion, you
can draw some conclusions about the process of gathering the
information.
In discussion, some other questions to consider are:
• What was most difficult to find?
• What information was easy to locate?
• Also, discuss what surprised you about the information you
found out.
• Are there fewer farms in your area than you thought?
• Are there more people in your town than you thought?
Questions of the Day:
¾ What was the most surprising information you discovered in this
lesson?

¾ Why was it surprising?

¾ Do you think most people in your community know about this


information? Why?

¾ Did your estimation and actual data differ? Why?

¾ If the estimation is close to the actual data, what could this


indicate?

¾ Why is it important to record the publication date with your


research information?

¾ What fact or topic would you like to know more about now that you
have learned more about food systems?

¾ Who might you ask to find out more about this topic?
A wonderful exercise to help us connect with what is going on in
our community food system is to hunt for a local newspaper article that
pertains to some aspect of the food system. Write a paragraph
summarizing the article and explain your point of view about the issue.
The businesses mentioned in an article could be a possible lead to an
interviewee for Step 2 or a contact in Step 3 of the food system project.

Another activity for this lesson is to print out any graphs you
found during your fact hunting and write a paragraph explaining the
graph and interpreting what it could mean in relation to the food system.
Background

Conducting a search using Internet search engines can take a lot


of time and produce little useful data. The websites provided contain
links and lists of other websites that will be useful for investigating most
aspects of the food system. The websites included in the Resources list
have been well researched and will be most helpful for finding specific
information.

If this lesson is being done in a setting where the Internet is not


accessible, most of the information you are looking for can be gathered
by contacting state agencies. Some states in the Northeast have fewer
offices that are responsible for monitoring aspects of the food system and
state agriculture. It will be most helpful to start your search by
contacting your State Department of Agriculture and the Extension office
of your state's Land Grant University. Many of the addresses and phone
numbers of the state offices for the Northeast have been included below.
These offices are responsible for the type of data that you will be looking
for. These basic contacts will lead to the names and numbers of contacts
able to give more specific information.

Web Resources
When searching these websites, look for places to click that say,
"graphics," "state fact sheets," or for maps provided when you scroll down
the page. From these basic starting points you will find links to other
places to find specific data.

United States Data


http://www.ers.usda.gov/epubs/other/usfact/US.HTM

http://www.usda.gov/nass/aggraphs/graphics.htm

State Data
http://govinfo.library.orst.edu/stateis.html

http://www.ers.usda.gov/epubs/other/usfact/

County Data
http://govinfo.library.orst.edu/ag-stateis.html
Non-Internet State Resources about the Food System

Connecticut Washington, D.C. 20036


Cooperative Extension System 202-462-8800
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road Alternative Farming Systems
Storrs, CT 06268-4036 Information Center
203-486-4125 National Agricultural Library
Room 109-C
Department of Agriculture 10301 Baltimore Blvd.
State Office Building Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
165 Capitol Ave. 301-504-6559
Hartford, CT 06106
203-566-3671 Maine
Cooperative Extension
Hartford Food System University of Maine
509 Wethersfield Ave. 5741 Libby Hall
Hartford, CT 06114 Orono, ME 04469-5741
Ph: 203-296-9325 207-581-3188
FAX: 203-296-8326 Contact: Carol C. Giesecke
Contact: Mark Winne
Email: hn2838@handsnet.org Department of Agriculture, Food,
and Rural Resources
Delaware State House Station 28
Cooperative Extension System Augusta, ME 04333
University of Delaware 207-287-3871
Townsend Hall
Newark, DE 19717 Maine Organic Farmers and
302-831-2506 Gardeners Association
Department of Agriculture Box 2176
2320 S. Dupont Highway 283 Water St.
Dover, DE 19901 Augusta, ME 04338
302-739-4811 207-622-3118
Contact: Eric Sideman
District of Columbia
Cooperative Extension Service Maryland
University of the District of Cooperative Extension Service
Columbia University of Maryland
901 Newton St. NE 2120 Symons Hall
Washington, DC 20017 College Park, MD 20742
202-576-6993 301-405-2907
Department of Agriculture
Healthy Harvest Society 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway
1424 16th St. NW #105 Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-5700 Department of Agriculture,
Markets, and Food
Maryland Organic Food and P.O. Box 2042
Farming Association Concord, NH 03302-2042
6201 Harley Road 603-271-2505
Middletown, MD 21769
301-371-4814 New Jersey
Contact: Marty Rice Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Cook College
Massachusetts P.O. Box 231
Cooperative Extension System New Brunswick, NJ 08903
212C Stockbridge Hall 908-932-9306
University of Massachusetts
Department of Agriculture
Amherst, MA 01003
CN 330
413-545-4800
Trenton, NJ 08625
609-292-8853
Department of Food and
Agriculture
NOFA - New Jersey
100 Cambridge St.
60 S Main St
Boston, MA 02202
PO Box 886
617-727-3000
Pennington, NJ 08534-0886
609-737-6848
NOFA (Northeast Organic
Certification: Henry Krzewinski
Farming Association) -
Massachusetts
Urban Ecology Program
411 Sheldon Road
Department of Nutritional
Barre, MA 01005
Sciences
Ph: 508-355-2853
Thompson Hall, PO Box 231
Contact: Julie Rawson
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-1231
Ph: 908-932-9224
Center on Agriculture, Food and
FAX: 908-932-6837
Environment
Contact: Michael Hamm
Tufts University - School of
Email: Hamm@aesop.rutgers.edu
Nutrition
126 Curtis St.
New York
Medford, MA 02155
Cooperative Extension
Ph: 617-627-3223
Roberts Hall
FAX: 617-627-3887
Cornell University
Contact: Molly Anderson
Ithaca, NY 14853
607-255-2237
New Hampshire
UNH Cooperative Extension Department of Agriculture and
59 College Road Markets
Durham, NH 03824 55 Hanson Place
603-862-1520 Brooklyn, NY 11217
718-722-2830
Rhode Island
Just Food - NYC Sustainable Cooperative Extension Service
Food System Alliance University of Rhode Island
307 7th Avenue Ste 1201 Woodward Hall
New York, NY 10001 Kingston, RI 02881
Ph: 212-645-9880 401-792-2474
FAX: 212-645-9881 Rhode Island Division of
Contact: Kathy Lawrence Agriculture
22 Hayes St.
NOFA - New York Providence, RI 02908
P.O. Box 21 401-277-2781
South Butler, NY 13154 Contact: Dan Lawton
315-365-2299
Farming Alternatives Program Vermont
Department of Rural Sociology Extension System
Warren Hall University of Vermont
Cornell University 601 Main St.
Ithaca, NY 14853 Burlington, VT 05401-3439
607-255-9832 802-656-2990
Department of Agriculture, Food,
Pennsylvania
and Markets
Cooperative Extension Service
116 State St.
Pennsylvania State University
Montpelier, VT 05620-2901
217 Ag Administration Building
802-828-2500
University Park, PA 16802
NOFA - Vermont
814-863-3438
R.R. Box 177
Department of Agriculture Richmond, VT 05477
2301 Cameron St. 802-434-4435
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408 Contact: Enid Wonnacott
717-787-4737
UVM Center for Sustainable
Eastern Pennsylvania Organic Agriculture
Crop Improvement Association University of Vermont 590 Main
P.O. Box 158 Street
Port Clinton, PA 19540 Burlington, VT 05405-0059
215-562-5502 Ph: 802-656-0037
Contact: Jodi Snyder FAX: 802-656-8874
Contact: Kate Duesterberg
Western Pennsylvania OCIA
R.R. 2 Box 116A West Virginia
Volant, PA 16156 Cooperative Extension Service
412-530-7220 West Virginia University
Contact: Ron Gargasz P.O. Box 6031
Morgantown, WV 26506-1900
Mountain State Organic Growers
304-293-5691 and Buyers Association
(MSOGBA)
Department of Agriculture P.O. Box 642
Room 28 Main Unit State Capitol Morgantown, WV 26507
Kanawha Blvd. 304-293-4801
Charleston, WV 25305 Contact: Keith Dix
304-558-2210
Step 2:
Learning from People in the
Food System
Summary

This step in the Discovering the Food System project provides the tools
and guidelines we will need to identify people in the food system and to
decide who best to interview, and then how best to set up the interview.
Having the opportunity to interview people with first-hand experience
can provide a better understanding of the food system. Of course, we are
all in the food system because we all eat! But here we focus on those
community members who really make the food system happen.

The first step in planning to conduct a person-to-person interview is to


identify people in the community who are involved in the food system in
some way and to explore how they are involved. Then you can make
choices about who specifically to interview. The “Steps in the Food
System List” from Lesson 2 of Section 1 will be useful for this lesson
because it is important to think about people in terms of their particular
part or function in the entire food system. Because the food system is
complex there are a great number of people and varied jobs to be
identified. It is important not to limit our exploration of who is in the food
system. Our interview can be as easy as briefly asking some questions of
a school lunch server, or as complex as interviewing grocery store
owners, food processors, farmers, chefs and restaurant personnel.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we should be able to:
• Identify at least one member of our community involved in the
food system.
• Consider how and where we will meet with this person to
interview him or her.
• Describe 2-3 ways to conduct personal interviews.
• Describe 2 interview settings.

Key Concepts
• Food System
• Interview
• Close-ended questions
• Open-ended questions
Multiple-choice questions “Getting to the Core”

Interviewing in the Food System

If you had the chance to talk with an apple grower, what questions
would you like to ask? What questions do you think a grower would like
to answer? What kinds of questions might require a tactful approach?
These are all things to think about when preparing to interview someone,
particularly a person you do not know.
In general, an interview should contain a variety of questions:
easy-to-answer questions, thought-provoking questions, questions with
long answers, questions with short answers, questions that are
demanding, and questions that are fun. In addition, the interviewer can
choose different formats of questions to help keep the conversation
interesting. Two commonly used formats are open-ended questions and
multiple-choice questions. Some examples from both types of formats are
shown below.

Open-ended questions:
1) How long have you been farming and have you always grown apples?

2) What varieties of apples do you grow and what are they usually used
for?

3) To whom do you sell apples?

4) How long does it take for a tree to begin to produce fruit, and how
many years is a tree harvested before it is replaced?

5) What is your favorite variety of apple and why?

Multiple-choice questions:

a) It has become more difficult for apple growers to earn a profit during
your lifetime.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree

b) An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree
c) Imported apples and apple products are a major source of competition
for your business.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree

d) Agriculture would benefit if more young people considered a career in


farming.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree

e) Perennial crops like apples are good for the environment and
satisfying to grow.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree

Bonus Question:

Cider is nectar from the gods. Everyone should drink it.

1 – Strongly agree 2 – Agree 3 – No opinion 4 – Disagree 5 –


Strongly disagree

Activities
• Putting people in the Food System
• Identifying people in the Food System
• Developing the interview topics
• Deciding how to interview
• Preparing for the interview
• Food for Thought Journal

Going Further
Background
Activity 1: Putting people in the Food System

Summary
Before we can identify whom we want to interview, we need to start
to identify what types of jobs the people who work in different parts of
the food system hold.

Materials
• “Steps in the Food System List” from Lesson 2, Section 1
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Telephone directory (optional)

Before Class
Review the parts of the food system as needed and prepare
photocopies if necessary.

Class itself
• Name the different parts of the food system. You can refer to
the “Steps in the Food System List” from Lesson 2, Section 1.
• Divide your paper in to one column for each part of the food
system. You will probably want to spread this onto more than
one piece of paper.
• Briefly consider or discuss the different jobs that could be
related to each part of the food system. Some may fall under
more than one column. For example, a farmer grows food but
also harvests it. A store manager may store as well as retail
food.
• Set your lists aside for a few minutes, then return to them. Is
anything missing? Add to the lists until you are satisfied you
have exhausted all possibilities. The yellow pages from a
telephone directory may give you some ideas as well.
Activity 2: Identifying people in the Food System

Summary
Now that we have a sense of some of the jobs people can hold when
working within the food system, we need to put faces into our own food
system. We need to ask ourselves: who are the members of our own
community who deal with food in some form as a part of their work?
From there we can decide whom to interview for our project.

Materials
• Our lists from Activity 1
• Post-it © notes or index cards (approximately 5 per person)
• Clear tape
• Writing board and markers or
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Gather materials as necessary

Class Itself
To start off this lesson, create an Information Tree to identify and
define the people in your community.
1. Draw a large silhouette of a tree with limbs but without leaves.
This can be on the chalkboard or on a large piece of paper. Label
the limbs from each of the steps of the food system: Growing,
Marketing, School, Neighborhood, Processing, etc.
2. Hand out the Post-it® notes and markers. On them, write down
the people you meet during your daily activities. For example, you
might write: lunch server, mom, grocery store worker, farmer, etc.
Do not forget to think about what you do on the weekends or after
school.
3. Put your Post-it® notes on the tree limb that best fits the person
you have on the note.
4. Look at your lists from the previous lessons. Can you add to your
tree by considering more unfamiliar jobs and who works them? Do
not forget even unpaid activities such as preparing the family meal.
How many opportunities to work with food are represented?
5. Think about whom you may want to interview. Where will you
meet with them (at home? In a classroom? In the cafeteria? On a
farm?)
6. If feasible, you may want to interview more than one person. If you
are working with a large group, you may want to break up into
smaller groups. Each small group can choose a different person to
interview so that you can compare notes after the interviews.
Activity 3: Developing interview topics

Summary
Before we can interview anyone, we need to translate the topics we
decided upon in Step 1 into interview topics and questions. This will
ensure that our interview advances our knowledge in the topic we have
chosen to investigate.

Materials
• Food for Thought Journal entries for Lessons 1-4, Section 1 and
Step 1, Section 2
• Worksheet from Step 1, Section 2, filled out
• “Information Tree” from Activity 2 and lists from Activity 1
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before class
No preparation needed.

Class itself
1. Look at the questions and interview ideas you wrote in your Food
for Thought Journals from Lesson 1-4 and Step 1 of the
Discovering the Food System project. Do you want to explore any
of those questions in your interviews? Do you have other
questions about the food system, now that you know more? Your
interview should help you learn more about the topics you
investigated in Step 1.
2. Now that you have narrowed down what you want to explore about
the food system, look at the information tree and lists you
developed in Activities 1 and 2. Are there people on those lists
whom you normally see on a daily basis whom you can interview
about your topic? If not, who is the best person to interview on
your topic? How will you get in contact with them? By phone? By
scheduling an interview at their office?
Activity 4: Deciding how to interview

Summary
Almost as important to deciding who to interview is deciding how
to conduct the interview. In this activity, we will brainstorm to see how
many different types of interview options we can think of.

Materials
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
You may want to spend some time watching news broadcasts, talk
shows or listening to the radio to familiarize yourself with some interview
techniques.

Class itself

• What interviews have you observed on TV, radio, at a public


meeting, at your school or within your community? These could be
news broadcasts, talk shows, or public hearings.
• Have you, or members of your family, ever answered the phone
and been asked by the caller to answer questions about a
particular topic? This is another type of interview.
• Describe the different interview settings you are aware of: phone,
public place, on the streets, at school, etc.
• Most interviews will be person to person (one-on-one) but groups
can interview one person. This works well for a class or club
situation. Decide what form of interview you will conduct. Where
will you meet with your interview subject? (at home? In a
classroom? In the cafeteria? On a farm? Over the phone?) The
location of the interview may affect the choice of interview
technique you choose.
• You may want to fill out the first part of the Food for Thought
Journal entry for this lesson, as it will help you record what you
hope to get out of your interviewing experience.
Activity 5: Preparing for the Interview

Summary
Interviewing can be easy or complex, depending on you and the
amount of time you have. You can easily tailor this activity to what is
practical for your own situation. For example, interviewing can be as
simple as developing some questions for family members or arranging
time to talk to the lunch staff at your school cafeteria, or it can be much
more elaborate and involve contacting your extension or county offices
for help. One great resource is grocery store managers because they will
have information about local and regional farms, processors, packagers
and distributors. You may even want to interview a grocery store
manager to find out how connected to food system a grocery store is.

Materials
• Model Script from Background material for this lesson
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Read over the Background material and consider how to tailor it to
the person you wish to interview.

Class Itself
• Use the script provided in the Background material to model
interviewing techniques. If possible, find others to help you
role-play through the script for practice. Watch television
interviews for tips on body language and tones of voices that
reveal reactions to good and bad interview questions.
• From your research, generate a list of tips and techniques of
conducting a good interview. What is the overall goal of an
interview? Some of these tips might include:
• Always tell the interviewee your purpose for conducting
the interview.
• Get their permission to take notes or record the interview.
• Try to avoid “yes” and “no” questions.
• Try to use questions that make the interviewee think and
talk more.
• Be observant of body language and tone of voice.
• Thank the interviewee for their time!
• Generate a brief list of questions to ask your interviewee, based
on the topic that you chose. Take turns interviewing family
members or friends until you are comfortable with the
interviewing process. Get feedback as to the questions you are
asking.
• Now you are ready for your interview! Remember to take careful
notes during your interview. It may be helpful to record the
interview on cassette tape. Do not forget to introduce yourself
to the interviewee. If you are working in a group, take turns
asking your questions. Impromptu questions are always good
as well: follow your instincts and have fun!
• On the same day of the interviews, complete the Food for
Thought Journal about your interview. Include as many details
as possible, so you can use your notes for your essays in
Section 3.
Activity 6: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Step 2.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed.

Class itself
In the journal, you will have time to think back about the different
jobs you identified within the food system as well as your actual
interview experience. You may want to fill out the first part before the
interview and the second part immediately after the interview.
Questions of the Day:
Before the interview
¾ What surprised you the most about identifying people in the food
system?

¾ Were you aware of all of the different kinds of jobs that were named in
the activity? What jobs were new to you? Which ones were you
already aware of?

¾ What are you most interested in learning more about in the food
system from the interview you intend to conduct?

After the interview

¾ What did you enjoy about your interviewing experience? What didn’t
you like?
¾ What was the most interesting thing you learned from the person you
talked with?

¾ What did you learn from the interview about the food system that you
didn't know already?

¾ Were there issues raised by the interviewee that you would like to
research more? If so, what?
Write down your observations about the kinds of work that are
part of the food system that you see when visiting a business or other
setting. For example, when in a grocery store, write down all of the
different kinds of work you observe going on that keep the store running
smoothly. What are the kinds of work that needs to take place beyond
the store in order for it to function properly? In the school cafeteria,
what are the different jobs you see people doing? What other jobs are
involved beyond the school walls that are necessary for lunch to be
served everyday?

As an alternative to Activity 1, try this more mathematically


intensive activity. Make a list of every person you know from your
community. This can be all of your family, neighbors, teachers, business
owners, etc. Tally the number of names on your list. Earlier, you
investigated your town's population. If you are working with a group,
add everyone’s lists together, not counting the people you may all know
(for example, if this is a school group, it is likely you all know the same
cafeteria workers). What percent of the community do you reach? If you
wanted to collect or distribute information, what percentage of the
community would you reach without meeting new people? For example,
if there are 5 students in a group and each listed 20 people, then the
group can reach 100 people. If there are 300 students in a local school
and each could meet 20 people, the school itself could reach 6000
people. What percentage of the community is that? This can help you
see how one person, or small group, can make an impact in their
community.

Following your interview, write an article about it to share with the


community via a newsletter or local paper.
Background
Interviewing can be a complicated undertaking. However, the
experience will be very valuable and can help you learn much more than
you would from even the most exciting class lessons. Building good
techniques for interviewing can be difficult. Below are suggestions of
how to conduct good interviews.

Avoiding close-ended questions


When an interviewer asks a question that yields a "yes" or "no"
answer, they are learning very little. In order to practice asking
questions that are open-ended, start with close-ended questions and
work them into a more interesting form. For example:

"Do you enjoy your job?" might be better phrased as:


"What do you like best about your job?"
"What are the three things you enjoy most about your day?"
"What about your job gives you the most satisfaction?"

Preparing for the Interview


Once the questions have been formulated, people identified, and a
place has been decided for the interviews to take place you are ready to
go. Decide on a time limit for the interviews, so that you and your
interviewees do not get tired of questions and answers.

Remember to ask permission if the interviews are to be videotaped


or recorded.

After Interviewing
Think back over what you have learned. If you are in a group,
discuss with the others and compare experiences. Divide your
comments into two general categories: what was learned about the
community food system, and insights about the interviewing process.
What are your observations about the interviewees? Did they seem to
enjoy talking about their jobs? Were they enthusiastic about seeing the
finished product?

There are a number of ways to express the interview results. Later


on, you will be preparing essays discussing your interviews so that you
can share what you have learned with your community.
References

To obtain population information for your county check the following:


• Internet: www.census.gov/datamap/www/index.html. At that site
click on your state and county to get population estimations.
• Phone: Census Bureau: Statistical Information Staff, Population
Division, (301) 457-2422.
• Mail: Population Estimation Program, Population Division, U.S.
Bureau of Census, Washington, D.C. 20233.

If these contacts are not available, contact your county offices for the
information. The fastest method of obtaining the statistics should be
through the website.

MODEL INTERVIEW #1
INTERVIEWER: Hi, my name is _________, and I'm
doing a study about local foods.
FARMER: Hi, I'm _________, I am a farmer in
___________(Town).
INTERVIEWER: Do you mind if I ask you a few
questions about your farm?
FARMER: No, go right ahead.
INTERVIEWER: Do you like farming?
FARMER: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: What's your favorite part of the day?
FARMER: Lunch.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have cows?
FARMER: No.
INTERVIEWER: Do you eat locally grown foods?
FARMER: Sometimes.
INTERVIEWER: Thanks.
FARMER: You're welcome.
INTERVIEWER: Bye.
FARMER: Bye.

MODEL INTERVIEW #2:


INTERVIEWER: Hi, my name is _________, and I'm doing a study about
local foods.
FARMER: Hi, I'm _________, I am a farmer in _____________(Town).
INTERVIEWER: Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your
farm?
FARMER: No, go right ahead.
INTERVIEWER: Is it all right if I take notes?
FARMER: Certainly.
INTERVIEWER: How long have you been farming in our community?
FARMER: I've been here most of my life.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me something about the people you do
business with?
FARMER: Well, I do business with lots of different people. I usually buy
my feed from __________, and then I often go to the local auto parts
shop to buy the parts I need for my tractor. I also sell my products to
different people, so there are many people that I work with.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me something about the people who buy
your products, and where they're from?
FARMER: The company that buys my milk comes from Syracuse. I sell
my apples to all my neighbors and friends, and to all our local
supermarkets.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think are the benefits of your farm to our
community?
FARMER: Wow, great question! Well, let me think here. I've hired five
local people, so they have jobs. And, I've gotten to know them, and
we're all friends, we've started up a small ball team with our family
members, and that's good. My farm is a habitat for wildlife. You'd be
surprised at the number of people who tell me how beautiful the farm
is, and it adds that way. Come to think of it, my farm really does
benefit the community a great deal.
INTERVIEWER: Gee, you've been really helpful. Would you mind if I
called you later if I have any questions while I'm writing up my notes?
FARMER: No, not at all. In fact, I'd like that. Here is a phone number
where you can reach me.
INTERVIEWER: Great. By the way, I'm going to be doing a project using
all the information I've learned today. It will be on display at our
community celebration in May. I will send you an invitation in the
mail, and I hope you'll attend!
FARMER: That sounds like fun. Of course I'll come.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything you'd like to add, or any feelings during
this interview that you want to discuss?
FARMER: Well, it feels good that you're interested in what I do. Thank
you!
Step 3:
Community Survey – Getting Ready

Summary

Now that we have talked with a community member directly involved in


the food system, it is time to explore another way of getting information.
In-person interviews are effective for gathering in-depth information
about a topic from a small number of people. In order to find out about
the views of a larger group of people, we rely on other methods. By
designing, distributing, and discussing a small survey, we can explore
what the members of our community think about an aspect of the food
system.
This is another step in your project that can be small scale, or elaborate,
depending on the time issues and the needs of you or your group. It can
range from surveying a school classroom and/or students’ family
members; surveying a grade level; distributing a survey to members of a
faith-based community; surveying a target number of adults; or
surveying the village, town, neighborhood, etc. on a larger scale. This
step is designed to give us a sense of how questionnaires can be designed
to give wanted information. If time is an issue, choose an easy target
group, and ask a small number of questions

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we will be able to:
• Choose a topic for a survey
• Identify a survey sample within the community
• Choose well-designed questions for a short questionnaire

Key Concepts
• Survey
• Population
• Sample
• Representative
• Subject
• Questionnaire
• Scaled Response
“Getting to the Core”

So, you want to find out about what people in your community
think about apples – great! By surveying a representative sample of
people living in you community, you can find out bushels of information.
What do you want to know? How many people like apples? Why they eat
them? How often they eat them? Which varieties they like best?

In general, a survey involves a questionnaire. This “research


instrument” can be disseminated to your sample (some of the people in
your community) by mailing a paper copy to them (mail survey method),
calling them on the phone and asking the questions (telephone survey
method), stopping them on the street or at a grocery store (in-person
questionnaire method), or sending it to them on email (web-based survey
method).

Surveys often use “closed-ended” questions. The options for


answers are provided and the respondents choose the one answer that
most closely reflects how they feel. You can also find out how important
something is or how strongly people feel about issues by asking them to
agree or disagree with statements that you write.

Here are some sample questions:

How often do you eat fresh apples?


a. Once each day
b. 3 to 5 times a week
c. 1-2 times a week
d. A few times a month
e. Rarely
f. I don’t like apples

There are many ways in which apples are consumed? For each of the
following form, indicate how much you like it by circling the appropriate
answer.

a. fresh whole apples


a lot a little not at all
b. apple sauce
a lot a little not at all
c. apple juice
a lot a little not at all
d. apple pie
a lot a little not at all

Activities

1. Choosing the topic


2. Choosing a survey sample
3. Preparing a Food System survey
4. Food for Thought Journal

Going Further
Background
Activity 1: Choosing the Topic

Summary
There are several ways to generate interesting questions to ask
about the food system. Issues and topics can come from articles in
the local paper, stories heard on the radio, or conversations around
the dinner table. Earlier, you chose to investigate a specific aspect of
the food system. Then, you either continued to explore the same topic
or picked a new area to find out more about in the interview, based on
your interests. This lesson is an opportunity to find out what the
community thinks about either one of these previous topics, or
perhaps a new topic.

Materials
• Results from Steps 1 and 2 of Section 2 and Food for Thought
Journal entries from both Sections
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
No before class preparation needed except to collect materials

Class itself
Examples of surveys:
• Survey young people about their knowledge of shopping
and what is local
• Survey a school community to explore their views as to
how the cafeteria might accommodate locally grown foods,
or to find out where the food for their school cafeteria
comes from
• Survey a neighborhood to see whether they would buy
produce grown by the young people
• Survey produce department managers of local grocery
stores to learn about the variety of local or organic
produce carried in their store.

• Make a list of the most interesting or surprising points you have


discovered during Step 1 and 2.
• Consider what you would most like to research further. If you are
in a group, collect the group’s ideas and discuss together.
Activity 2: Choosing a survey sample

Summary
Now that you have a topic, it is time to decide whom you want to
survey. This means you need to decide whose viewpoints from your local
community you want to hear.

Materials
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Optional: it may help to have access to a local phone directory

Before Class
No before class preparation needed.

Class itself
• Decide the overall group or community of interest whose
opinions you wish to know more about. (for example, food
shoppers, residents of a particular neighborhood, parents of
school students, school students themselves, teachers of the
school, supermarket employees, local food service providers,
etc.)
• Pick some of these people, otherwise known as a sample, from
the group. Pick enough so that the sample represents the
larger group. The challenge is to pick a small enough sample so
that the survey is possible and not too expensive, but large
enough to tell you something about that group’s viewpoint.
Activity 3: Preparing a Food System survey

Summary
Developing the questions is a critical, but creative step in
conducting a survey. It will help you make sure you get the answers and
information you are looking for. This activity is aimed to helping you
develop the best questions possible for your survey.

Materials
• Materials from Activities 1-2 and Steps 1 and 2 of this section
• Writing board and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Review Background material on preparing surveys.

Class Itself
• The first step is to look back to the main topic for your questionnaire.
What is the most critical item that you're interested in? Write this
question first, so that it guides the questions that will follow. For
example, a main question for the survey might be “Where does your
family do most of its grocery shopping?”
• From this broad topic, brainstorm about what specific details are
important to learn about. Questionnaires can have different sections
to address specific subtopics relating to the main question. For this
survey, try to keep your questions focused and simple.
• Review the different types of questions that can be included in a
questionnaire. Think of examples of questions for each type. Write
these on a board or on paper.
• After you have several questions written down, go through each,
deciding on question type and wording. Also decide on what order to
put the questions in. Look over the Background information on
surveys and the example below to get a sense of how different orders
of questions can make a difference. In what order do you want your
subtopics?
• When you are satisfied with your set of brief, focused questions, give
your survey an exciting title! This can come quite easily from the
overall topic or question of interest.
For example, below is a segment from a real questionnaire used to gather
ideas about Pennsylvania’s Food System that relate to the subheading
“cooking and shopping:” (Harmon et al. 1999)

If you did the shopping and cooking for your family…

1. How important to you would it be to reuse plastic bags, paper bags and
other food containers?
Not at all important 1 2 3 4 5 very important

2. How important to you would it be to take your own bag for shipping
(either canvas or paper)?
Not at all important 1 2 3 4 5 very important

3. How important to you would it be to recycle food packaging (aluminum


cans, glass bottles, or plastic)?
Not at all important 1 2 3 4 5 very important

4. How important to you would it be to compost your food scraps?


Not at all important 1 2 3 4 5 very important
Activity 4: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Step 3.

Materials
1. Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
2. Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed.

Class itself
In the journal, you will have time to reflect on your experience
preparing a survey for your community.
Background
Why conduct a survey in a community? The primary goal of a
survey of a group of people is to describe attitudes, opinions, or views on
a particular subject. Data is gathered from people in their natural
settings using a questionnaire (one type of survey instrument) to obtain
written or verbal responses. Systematic collection of similar data from
each respondent allows the exploration of relationships among variables
that are measured. For example, you might assess the relationship
between fruit and vegetable intake and the age of the respondents (i.e.
how does intake change with age?). Surveys can take less time and be an
inexpensive way to reach larger numbers from a wider geographic area,
although the information may not be as detailed or rich as individual
interviews. A "mixed methods" approach of combining interview results
with data gathered from a quantitative survey using a questionnaire or
structured interview guide can be an influential, powerful tool in
community decision-making, and in convincing community members
and leaders about the value of a given topic. In any community we can
often identify issues of concern to a great number of citizens. With a
survey, we can gather interesting information on those issues.

Planning a Survey
There are many items to consider when planning a survey. The
rule of thumb for this unit is to keep it simple and focused. The first
thing to decide is who you want to describe and what you want to know
about them. For example, if we want to know which fruits and vegetables
are purchased most frequently in the town of Healthville, NY, a relevant
population would be all the people in Healthville who do the food
shopping for their household. Or, if you want to learn more about which
fruits and vegetables are grown on farms in Garden County, VT, then the
relevant population would be all the farmers in Garden County. Or if you
want to know which locally produced fruits and vegetables are available
at the grocery stores in Healthville, NY, the relevant population would be
produce managers in the Healthville grocery stores.
In general, it saves time, effort, and money to get the information
you want from some but not all of the people in your population of
interest. When a small group of people is selected in order to find out
something about the entire population, this smaller group is called a
sample. The sample is usually selected randomly, so that it is more likely
to be representative of the population.
There are many ways to survey a group of people who represent
the population of interest. Some, like a mail questionnaire, will require a
small budget for printing, envelopes and postage. Others, for example
telephone surveys, hand delivery, or mailbox stuffing may require more
resources. If the study population to be sampled happens to be
community members with children enrolled in the local middle school,
questionnaires could be hand-carried home with students avoiding any
postage costs. If the study population is shoppers at a local supermarket,
and the store manager has granted permission, shoppers can be
approached at the store entrance and recruited to fill out a short
questionnaire. As soon as someone agrees to participate in a survey, he
or she becomes a subject in the study.
Your Surveys Can Create Change!
As an example, the high school ecology club in a Massachusetts school
community conducted a survey that had immediate results. An informal
survey asked teachers and seniors five questions related to school policy.
Out of two hundred surveys distributed, one hundred and seventy-six
came back. Only five people said they would not be willing to pay an
additional five cents for using biodegradable paper cups in the cafeteria.
The survey results were presented to the faculty and student government
and, as a result, Styrofoam cups and trays were no longer used at
school. All it took to convince school administrators to change their
policy was the evidence of an informal poll (Lesko, 1992).

Questionnaire Development

From Step 1, we gathered facts and data about our food and
agriculture system. From Step 2, we learned more about our local food
system from people who actually represent that food system. The
community survey provides a chance explore the attitudes within our
community about some aspect of what we have learned. There will be
many potential topics to explore in the survey. So the first step is to
decide the focus of the survey and then what specific questions to ask on
the questionnaire.

Potential Survey Topics


Interest in farmers markets
Factors influencing fruit and vegetable
purchases
Important qualities of area food stores
Preference for locally grown foods
Concern about hunger and food insecurity in
the community
Perceptions about school meals
Concerns about changes in agriculture
Interest in cooking and shopping

There are several different kinds of questions that can be used in a


questionnaire. A questionnaire can use all of these types or just a few.
• Open-ended questions, in which participants write their own response
• Yes/no responses
• Scaled responses (on a scale of 1 to 5, rate your willingness to drive
an extra 5 miles to purchase food directly from a farmers' market,
with 1= not at all willing, 3 = somewhat willing, 5 = very willing.)
• Closed-ended responses that allow the participant to choose the
response that best suits them, giving them a line for the "other"
response. ("I typically shop at the following: large supermarket, small
independent grocery store, farmers' market, gourmet food shop, food
cooperative, other")
The key to good questions is that there is no doubt on the part of the
respondent what the question is asking. A good way to make sure the
questions are not misinterpreted is to pre-test the questionnaire with a
small number of people who are like those who will be participating in
the survey. In general, closed-ended responses will be easier to analyze
and interpret than open-ended responses. Here is a checklist to help
guide the development of questions:
• Is the question specific, or vague? You will want to be as specific
as you can, so no one can misinterpret of the question. For
example, "Where do you get your food?" is less clear than, “Check
each of the following places where you buy food for your
household. a) Grocery store; b) food cooperative; c) farmers’
market; food wholesale outlet, etc."
• Do the questions contain jargon or abbreviations? If so, clarify and
describe if the phrase is likely to be unfamiliar. For example, if
you planned to use CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, in
a question, you should define it first.
• Is the terminology you are using familiar to everyone?
• Are the questions biased? For example, "Do you agree that the
school lunch program is lacking in quality?" is loaded with bias.
"Describe the food quality in the school lunch program" is less
biased.
• Are any questions too probing, demanding, or difficult to answer?
Keep them simple.
• Are you trying to ask two questions in one space? Keep your
questionnaire clear and concise by having your respondents
answer one question at a time.
• How is your language? Avoid double negatives.
• What level of expertise will someone need to understand the
questionnaire? Do not assume that participants have a breadth of
knowledge about the community food system.
• How far back are you asking your respondents to remember? Be
sure that any questions related to a time frame are appropriate.
Questions related to buying habits on a week by week basis, as
opposed to relating to a full month or year, will be easier for your
respondents.

Five Types of Scaled


Responses to Consider:

Endorsement: Definitely true, true,


don’t know, false, definitely false
Frequency: Always, very often, fairly
often, sometimes, almost never,
never
Intensity: None, very mild, mild,
moderate, severe
Influence: Big problem, moderate
problem, small problem, very
small problem, no problem.
Comparison: Much more then
others, somewhat more than
others, about the same as others,
somewhat less than others,
much less than others
These are suggestions but of
course, you will likely come up with
your own scaled response options.
Source: Fink, Arlene. How to Ask
Survey Questions. Sage
Publications, Inc. 1995.

Questionnaire Format
Questionnaires can be complex and in booklet form, or simply one
to two pages of paper. For this activity, try to keep questions all on one
sheet, two-sided at most. This can be easily reproduced on a photocopy
machine. Choose a title that reflects your purpose, and provide
directions for how to answer the questions. Use the same answering
procedure throughout the questionnaire. You may want to use lower
case letters for the questions, and upper case letters for responses, or
use plain type for questions, and bold type for answers. Here is an
example:
Do you drive or take public transportation to purchase your food? (Please
circle letter)
a. DRIVE
b. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
c. OTHER (Explain: ____________________________________)
If you ask demographic questions, such as age or gender, group
them into one brief section. These usually appear at the end of a
questionnaire. Group questions together that are similar, so that the
questionnaire flows instead of jumping around.
Include contact information (name, address, phone or email,
organization) so that people can get in touch if they have concerns or
questions. This also lets them know if an organization is sponsoring the
questionnaire (your school or 4-H club, for example).
A sample questionnaire is provided at the end of this lesson.

Lesson Resources
To be added.

References
Fink, Arlene. How to Ask Survey Questions. Sage Publications, Inc. 1995.
Harmon, A. Harmon, R. and Maretzki, A. 1999. The Food System:
Building youth awareness through involvement. The Pennsylvania State
University College of Agricultural Sciences.
Lesko, W. S. 1992. No Kidding Around! America's Young Activists are
Changing the World, and You Can Too. Information, USA, Inc.
Kensington, MD.
The Healthville Community Food System
A Survey of Citizen Interests and Concerns
Introduction.
Over the past month, students in Mr. Brown's 6th grade social studies
class gathered facts about the food and agriculture system in Bounty
County. Did you know that there were 300 farms in the early 1900s and
now there are only 75 farms in our county? Did you know that 5 farmers
go out of business each year? We'd like to know how you feel about the
state of farming and agriculture in Bounty County.
This questionnaire is designed to take just a few minutes of your time to
complete. Your responses are very important to us! Thank you for
participating in this survey!
1. The first set of questions has to do with farms in Bounty County. To
what extent do you agree or not? (Please circle number).

Question Agree Don’t Don’t


Know Agree

A. Agriculture in Bounty 1 2 3 4 5
County is important to
the local economy

B. Having farms nearby 1 2 3 4 5


makes my community
a better place to live.

C. It’s unimportant to 1 2 3 4 5
have local farms
because all my food
can be imported

D. To save local farms it 1 2 3 4 5


is better to buy foods
grown by local farmers

E. I would be willing to 1 2 3 4 5
pay 5% more for my
food if doing so helped
keep local farmers in
business
F. If farmers go out of 1 2 3 4 5
business it’s because
they are bad managers

G. Cafeterias in schools, 1 2 3 4 5
hospitals and
companies should
serve food grown by
local farmers

2. The second set of questions has to do with food shopping and eating.

Question Agree Don’t Don’t


know Agree

A. In the summer and fall 1 2 3 4 5


I buy some of my food
from a farmers’ market

B. I prefer food stores 1 2 3 4 5


that offer a variety of
locally produced foods

C. If the price is higher 1 2 3 4 5


for local foods, I will
not buy them

D. Supermarkets should 1 2 3 4 5
offer locally grown
foods on a regular
basis

E. A diet made up totally 1 2 3 4 5


of foods that are
produced locally would
not provide enough
variety to maintain
good health

F. I’d like to buy fruits 1 2 3 4 5


and vegetables grown
by local farmers, but
the quality is not as
good as imported
produce
G. Locally grown produce 1 2 3 4 5
doesn’t taste as good
as imported produce

H. Locally grown produce 1 2 3 4 5


doesn’t look as good as
imported produce

3. The last set of questions has to do with you and your household
What is your gender? (circle one) FEMALE MALE
What was your age at your last birthday? ________years
What is your level of education?
1 Completed some high school
2 Received high school diploma
3 Some college or technical school
4 2-year college or vocational school
5 4-year college or university degree
6 Advanced degree
Have you ever lived on a working farm? (circle) YES NO
Have you ever grown a vegetable garden? (circle) YES NO
Step 4:
Conducting a Community Survey
Summary

Now we know what our topic is, who the survey sample is, and which
questions are being asked. We are ready to distribute the survey.
Our decisions for this activity will depend on the resources we have
available. A simple way to distribute a survey is to hand-deliver them
to the survey sample group of people. Before distributing them, we
may want to set up a box to which our respondents can return their
surveys. If we have a small amount of money available to our group,
we can prepare self-addressed and stamped envelopes so the surveys
can be returned easily at no inconvenience to the respondent. If the
survey sample consists of parents within a school system, we can
hand-deliver as well as collect and return the questionnaires. The
important thing is to think through an easy and inexpensive way to
ensure that we will get the surveys back. Be sure to provide a
timeline (For example: “We would like these back by May 10 to
complete our activities.”)

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, we will be able to:
• Prepare a survey for distribution
• Distribute a survey and collect completed responses.
• Discuss survey results and perform a series of simple
calculations to inform this discussion
Key Concepts
• Distribution method
• Mail Survey
• Telephone Survey
• Response Rate
• Percentage
Activities

• Distributing the Questionnaire


• Sharing the Results
• Food for Thought Journal

Going Further
Background

Activity 1: Distributing the Questionnaires

Summary
The first step of getting your surveys completed is deciding how
you will distribute them and who your survey sample will be.

Materials
• Your surveys, ready for distribution

Before Class
Prepare your surveys for distribution as needed. If you decide to
mail them, you will need envelopes and stamps. For telephone surveys
you will need your local phone directory and a phone. Review
Background material from Step 3.

Class itself

Decide on what method you will use to distribute your


questionnaires and collect the information. Remember that the method
of distribution will affect your survey sample. One of the easiest ways to
distribute questionnaires within your community is to send them home
with a selected set of students for their parents to complete. In this case,
the sample would be “parents of students in the __ grade at ______
school.”

However, there are many other ways to conduct surveys. Methods


will vary in the time and money required. Mail surveys require resources
for postage and paper. Telephone surveys require access to phones and
resources for any long-distance charges and the time of people to ask the
questions on the phone. Other methods involve recruiting people at
various locations such as at a grocery store, farmers’ market, or library.
Remember that it is important to get permission first before conducting
in-person surveys at such public places or private businesses. In all of
these cases, your survey sample will be whomever you choose to get the
sample.

Whatever the method of distribution you choose, you need a way to


collect completed questionnaires. If sent home with students, the
students can bring the completed versions back to you.

Activity 2: Sharing the Results

Summary
Once the questionnaires have been completed and returned, the
next step is to figure out what all the responses tell you! You can learn a
lot about what the data means by simply tallying the results.
When organizations, researchers, and businesses conduct surveys,
they use complex calculations to understand what the survey
information means. We will perform some simple calculations.

Materials
• Your completed surveys
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Calculator (optional)

Before Class
Make sure that you have received enough questionnaires back or
finished conducting enough telephone interviews to have a good number
of responses.

Class Itself
• If you are working with a group, distribute the completed
questionnaires evenly among the members. One person in the
group should read the results from the completed questionnaire
while another records the data. The third person can also
record as an extra check for accuracy. If you are working alone,
you will have to do all three steps, reading, recording data, and
checking for accuracy, yourself. You should use a blank
questionnaire and add check marks next to the response on the
completed questionnaire to tally the responses. You, or another
person, should double-check that you have marked the
appropriate response correctly.
• Once you have completed recording your set of data, go through
the entire questionnaire and compute the totals for each
question.
• You now have the total number of responses from everyone who
responded to your survey. The other thing you know is how
many people responded – the total number of completed
questionnaires. You also know how many questionnaires were
sent out originally (or how many people you talked to). So, you
can calculate:
The response rate = Total number returned/total number sent
This is expressed as a percent. (For example, a 65% response
rate means 65% of those who received the questionnaire,
responded).

4. You can also calculate the percentage for different response


categories:
Percentage = Total number who strongly agree.../total number
of respondents
The survey may reveal, for example, that 75% of residents in a
neighborhood agree that they are willing to buy produce from
young people.
Activity 3: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for Step 1.

Materials
• Photocopies of “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class itself
In the journal, you will have time to reflect on your experience
putting the surveys together, distributing them and compiling the
results.
Questions of the Day:
¾ Write one of the questions you wanted to include in the survey

¾ Did that question, or a similar one get included in the survey?

¾ Describe a response from the questionnaire that surprised you.

¾ Why did it surprise you?

¾ Between the interviews and the survey, which tool helped you
learn more about the food system?

¾ Between the interviews and the survey, which tool helped you
learn more about the community?
If you have a computer, you will most likely have access to a
spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. If you are intrigued with
this, you can analyze the results of their survey using a program. Some
of these programs are simple to use and can produce interesting graphs
and statistical percentages of the survey results. This is a good
opportunity to explore beyond the basic requirements if you have a
specific interest in research or computers.
Step 5:
Sharing Food System Stories
with Your Community
Summary

Now that we have learned about our food system, researched a


topic, conducted interviews and carried out a survey, it is time for us to
share the results of all this fine work. This final step in the process
allows us to gather all of the food system information together into an
interesting story. Results can be displayed in creative ways. Stories from
food system people are often new and interesting to the broader
community, and the attitudes and interests of consumers within a
community will be important to leaders and community stakeholders
alike. Included in this section are various techniques for presenting what
we have learned. Also included are ideas of settings in which to share
information about the community food system. In sharing what we have
learned with others, we can create or increase awareness among others
about the community food system.
Like the other aspects of Discovering the Food System, this activity
can be as simple or complex as you would like to make it. Through
similar projects across the country, students have brought about real
change in their communities as their work has led to actions on
important public issues. Although in many ways, this is the most “wide
open” of the activities, it can also be the most meaningful and
empowering. The sky is the limit! We may make important discoveries
about ourselves and our power to inspire and create change!

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, we will be able to:


• Prepare information for sharing, exhibiting or presenting in
various ways
• Share our presentations with the community to increase food
system awareness
• Identify ways we can help improve our community food system

Key Concepts

• Presentation
• Bar graph
• Pie chart
• Results
• Student Assessement

“Getting to the Core”


Reporting Data

Once you have collected information, do you know what to do with it?
The presentation of data is as important as the data itself! Tables and
figures are the two major means of reporting quantitative data. Each
has its strengths and is intended for a particular purpose. In general,
it is best to use tables when the individual numbers are important,
whereas figures are best used to show a pattern or trend. Both figures
and tables are great because they can display a large amount of
information in a digestible format. They should convey the
information accurately in a clear and concise manner. The basic
anatomy of a table or figure consists of four parts: 1) the title, 2) the
headings or legend, 3) the body, and 4) the source of information.
Some examples are shown below.

Table 1. Average annual per capita consumption of selected forms of apples


in the United States by Census region, 1994-1996.

Region Whole Apples Apple Juice Apple Sauce


------------------------ lbs/person/yr -----------------------
Northeast 12.1 18.3 2.6
Midwest 11.6 12.1 3.3
South 9.2 10.9 1.8
West 15.2 14.8 2.4
U.S. Average 11.7 13.5 2.4
Source: Food Commodity Intake Database, Version 2.1 (Environmental Protection
Agency and Agricultural Research Service, 2000)
Spartan
Other
2%
11% McIntosh
Jonamac 20%
2%
Jonagold
2%
Golden Delicious
5%

Crispin (Mutsu) Empire


5% 12%

R.I. Greening
6%

Rome
Cortland
11%
6%
Idared Delicious
9% 9%

Figure 1: Varieties of apples grown in New York State by weight, 1999


Source: New York Agricultural Statistics Service, 2000

Activities

1. Presenting the Food System Facts


2. Presenting the Interview Experiences
3. Presenting the Survey Results
4. Reaching Out
5. Wrapping Up
6. Food for Thought Journal

Going Further
Background
Activity 1: Presenting the Food System Facts

Summary
During Step 1 of the project, you conducted a search for
information about food systems. Much of the information you
gathered was relevant to your specific food system. This useful
background information should be included in the presentations to
share with the community.

Materials
• Results from Step 1, Section 2
• Posterboard and markers
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Rulers

Before Class
Go over information gathered from Step 1, Section 2 to familiarize
yourself with what you discovered.

Class Itself
• What important information about your community food system
did you discover in Step 1? You may have found useful graphs
that demonstrate important aspects of the current state of your
food system. If not, you may have found enough information to
create a graph of your own.
• Write a short paragraph explaining and interpreting a graph or
collection of data you acquired in Step 1. If you have more than
one graph, combine them on one poster along with your
paragraph. This poster can be used to depict food system facts
and can be prominently displayed in your community. Some
venues might be churches or banks.
Activity 2: Presenting the Interview Experiences

Summary
The experiences you have had with your interviews gave you an in-
depth perspective of the food system. You need to share these unique
experiences with others!

Materials
• Food for Thought Journal entries about your interview
experience and any other notes you took
• Paper and pens/pencils

Before Class
Review your journal entries and notes

Class Itself
• Using the information you have put in your Food for Thought
Journals and any other notes you took during the interviews,
write a short 1-2 page essay about your interview. If you are
part of a group, you may want to divide the work by having
each person write a paragraph of the essay. For example, one
might write the introduction containing background information
about the interviewee, another might describe the interviewee’s
business and how it is connected to the community food
system. A third person can write a paragraph about the
interviewee’s opinions on the questions asked. These essays
can be shared in school and community newsletters, as well as
local newspapers.
Activity 3: Presenting the Survey Results

Summary
During the Discovering the Food System project, you created a
survey and distributed it to a survey sample. You also gathered and
discussed the results. At this point, those results can be put into an
exciting format that can be shared with others. You can describe
your results in words, or create bar graphs and pie charts to show
how people responded to the survey.

Materials
• Results from surveys
• Posterboard and markers
• Rulers
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Glue or staples or tape

Before Class
Review Background material on presenting results, as well as the
“Getting to the Core” part of this lesson’s introduction

Class Itself
• To present the results of your surveys for the community, you
can make a poster, or more than one copy of the poster. The
poster can contain an example of the survey, a paragraph
explaining who completed the survey, an explanation of the
results, and/or the graphs and charts that display the results of
the survey. You can share these at many different sites in the
school or community.
Activity 4: Reaching Out

Summary
There are many ways that you can reach the community.
Regardless of your setting there are a variety of possibilities available.
This activity will introduce you to a variety of choices.

Materials
No materials needed

Before Class
No real preparation needed, although you may wish to review your
project results.

Class Itself

Below you will find a variety of ways to reach out to your community
and through which to share the results of your project. Read them
over and choose which one suits your situation the best!
Local Media
In every community there are a variety of media that are
used to let the community know what is going on. Most towns
have some kind of local newspaper that is usually interested in
sharing this type of project with the rest of the community. If you
are working within a school, the school newspaper may be able to
print the interview essays and survey results. In many larger
towns and small cities there are local television news programs.
Some of these programs are interested in sharing what students in
the community are up to. Local radio stations may also be willing
to conduct interviews with the young people. If you have access to
an Internet web page, it may be possible to share the results of the
Discovering the Food System investigations online.
Community or Town Meetings
Throughout the year there are many meetings of local
organizations, for example school board meetings, parent-teacher
conference night, and town meetings. These are all possible
locations where you can present your posters to members of the
community. Often during these meetings there are coffee breaks
or intermissions. During those times you can be talking to the
neighbors about your project.
Local Businesses and Meeting Places
Many communities have grocery stores and other smaller
businesses that are interested in working with groups of young
people. These are potential places to present the posters to the
community. Some communities have a local farmer's market.
Since many of people patronize markets are interested in their
community, there will likely be much interest in that setting.
Many of the local businesses are very interested in raising food
system awareness since they are stakeholders in the food system.
Activity 5: Wrapping Up

Summary
In Section 1, you created illustrations of the food system, before
you had done any research to understand it more fully. Now is the time
to compare what you knew earlier with what you understand now.

Materials
• Paper and pens/pencils
• Markers, crayons, colored pencils
• Any pertinent information about the food system you have
discovered

Before Class
Review the information you have learned about the food system
and the Student Assessment section in the Background material.

Class itself
Create an illustration of the food system. This can be an informal
illustration, a color drawing or even a detailed list of the steps in the
food system. Compare them to the first set of illustrations.
Activity 6: Food for Thought Journal

Summary
As an independent assignment, complete the Food for Thought
Journal for this lesson.

Materials
• Photocopies of the “Food for Thought Journal”
• Pens/pencils

Before Class
Prepare photocopies as needed

Class Itself
In the Journal, you will be able to wrap up your experiences with
the Discovering the Food System project, particularly how you chose to
present it to your community.
Questions of the Day:
¾ What do you think are the best way(s) to communicate the
information you have gathered about the food system to your
community?

¾ Why do you think these ways are the best?

¾ Do you think information about your community food system is


important for people to know? Why, or why not?

¾ Would you expect questions from people who read or hear a news
story about your food system research to have questions about it?

¾ What might some of those questions be?


¾ What kinds of changes do you think are possible from
communicating information about the food system?

¾ If you were to prepare the results from your community food


system exploration again, what would you do differently?
You can interview a representative from a local TV station, radio,
or newspaper to come to find out about the process of getting stories
in the news. You may also be interested in writing a research report to
document the results from your fact finding exercises, interviews and
the community survey. Potential elements contained in a research
report are described in the Background section.
Background

Ways to Show Results.


Suppose one of the questions on your questionnaire was:
During the summer months, how often do you buy fruits and vegetables at
a farmers market?
1 Once a week
2 Two times a month
3 Once a month
4 Less than once a month
5 Never
There are several ways to display the results.
Percentage. The percent of the total number of people who answered
this question could simply be shown. The total will add up to 100 in
most cases.
25% Once a week
40% Two times a month
20% Once a month
10% Less than once a month
5% Never

Pie Chart. A circle that is divided into portions (pieces) that represent
%
0
2
%
0
1
O ce

O n

L
a
n w

a m
ce

m o
th
N e
n
vr
e k

w ice a
T o n
m th

n th
o

e st ho n
n
a ce

the different possible responses to a question. The circle, or the whole


pie, represents all the people who responded to the question. The pieces
reflect how many of that total responded to the possible answers.
Bar Graph. Bars for each one of the response categories can be
displayed. The height of the bar reflects the proportion of total
respondents for each answer.

Student Assessment and Wrapping Up:


Wrapping up a research report usually contains the following
components:
Introduction - which begins broadly and sets the context for the
study. Some of the data gathered in Step 1, Section 2 will be useful
here.
Objectives of the study - why did you do the interviews and
conduct the survey? What were you interested in finding out?
Methods - how did you go about finding the answers to your
questions? (e.g. questionnaires, interviews, etc.) What was the basic
design of the research? People want to know what questions were
asked. They also want to know who participated in the study. Where
were the subjects? How many were there? How were they selected?
Results – which begin with the central findings, and then move to
the more peripheral ones. Often this section can begin by restating
one or more of the main questions to be addressed in the research.
Results can be displayed in tables, pie charts, graphs, etc.
Discussion - this section forms a cohesive narrative with the
introduction, and you should expect to move materials back and forth
between the introduction and discussion. Begin by telling what you
have learned from the study. Open with a clear statement on the
support or nonsupport of the hypotheses (what you thought you
would find) or the answers to the questions you first raised in the
introduction.
· Summary - a research report often concludes with a very brief
summary that restates in barest outline the problem, the procedures,
the major findings, and the major conclusions drawn from them.
References. If any other articles were used in the writing of the
report, there should be a reference section. The sources of the
agriculture and food system data would be included here.

References
Kidder, Louise H. and Charles M. Judd. Date. Research Methods in
Social Relations. Fifth edition. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. 563 pg.
Edward R. Tufte "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information."
Graphics Press, 1992
Glossary
Annuals – plants that are planted each year and last for one season

Bar Graph – a method of displaying survey information. Bars for each


one of the response categories can be displayed. The height of the bar
reflects the proportion of total respondents for each answer

Close-ended questions – a question in which the subject’s responses are


limited to given alternatives

Community – an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in


a common location

Consuming – a step in the food system, it can mean the act of actually
eating something or just the act of purchasing it. A consumer is a
person who can go to the store, select which product they want and
purchase it.

Dietary Guidelines http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/ (Dietary


Guidelines for Americans 2000, 5th edition) – Since 1980 and every five
years since then, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have jointly
published the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines
Advisory Committee consisting of prominent experts in nutrition and
health reviews current scientific and medical knowledge and recommend
to the Secretaries revisions to the Guidelines. The Committees produces
reports of their recommendations and rationale to the Secretaries. The
Departments then review, edit and publish the revised Guidelines,. The
Dietary Guidelines provide the basis for Federal nutrition policy and
nutrition education activities. Specifically, the Guidelines provide advice
for healthy Americans ages 2 years and above about food choices that
promote health and prevent disease.

Disposing, composting and recycling – the step in the food system that
follow consumption in the home or at a restaurant. This food can go into
the garbage or can be added to a compost pile and turned into a
valuable, rich fertilizing material to add to a home garden or a farmer’s
field. Food packages may also have different fates with different
environmental impacts. All food packages, of course, can be thrown away
and added to the solid waste accumulated by a community. However,
many food packages can be recycled. Food packing materials such as
paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass and tin can be recycled
depending on the services provided by the community.

Distribution - the process of dividing up, spreading out, and delivering


food to various places. Farm products can be taken from their original
sources and delivered to supermarkets, other food stores, or farmers’
markets for sale as a whole fresh product - like many fruits and
vegetables. Alternatively, farm products can be transported to a site
where they will be transformed in some way, combined with other
ingredients, made into food products, packaged and then distributed
through a number to marketing channels. Most of what we find in
grocery stores today has been transported great distances and has
undergone some degree of processing. We currently transport food by
truck, train, boat, and plane. A few foods (tomatoes and bananas
primarily) that will be transported a significant distance are usually
harvested before full ripeness so that they will withstand the bumps
along the way.

Externality – exists when costs or benefits generated by an agent (say a


farmer, or a truck driver) that does not register as a cost or benefit to
that agent or end-user. The pollution generated by transporting food is
not paid for by the trucking company in the price of the fuel, or by the
consumer in the price of the food. The beekeeper is not compensated for
the benefit his/her bees provide to a neighboring orchard in the form of
pollination. These costs and benefits are “externalized” and not paid for
directly at the grocery store register.

Food Guide – a nutrition education tool that graphically represents how


recommendations on nutrient intake are translated into
recommendations on food intake. Foods are clustered into groups that
are similar in nutrient composition. A food guide provides
recommendations on what food groups to choose from and the number of
servings of food from each group in order to get a nutritionally adequate
and wholesome diet. The USDA Food Pyramid
(http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/Fpyr/pyramid.html) is the federal food
guide that helps consumers implement the Dietary Guidelines (see
above). There are other food guides, including one for the Northeast.
<http://www.nutrition.cornell.edu/foodguide/>.

Food Group – the grouping of foods that are similar in nutrient


composition. On the USDA Food Guide Pyramid there are 6 primary food
groups: Bread, cereal, pasta, tortillas, whole grains; Vegetables; Fruits;
Dry beans, nuts, eggs, poultry, fish, meats; Milk, yogurt, cheese; and
Fats, oils, sweets.
Food Labels - the label on a food package that provides information
about its manufacturer and its nutritional content. The Food and Drug
Administration regulates the information that is allowed on labels for
foods marketed in the U.S. http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/flg-toc.html

Food Miles – the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised to
where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer.

Food Production - involves many of the activities that take place on a


farm, at an orchard, in bodies of water, or in greenhouses and fish-farm
tanks to produce our food. Food production depends on the "input" of
several resources, both natural (soil, water, climate, seeds, and human
labor) and human-made (machinery, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides). A farmer
owns or rents land to plant crops, or tend animals. The inputs required
vary depending on what is being grown or raised and the type of
agricultural system that is in place. For example, many of the pesticides
and fertilizers common in most of our agriculture are not allowed in
organic agriculture.

Food System - the interdependent parts of the system that provides food
to a community. This includes the growing, harvesting, storing,
transporting, processing, packaging, marketing, retailing, and consuming
of the product. Some or all of these steps in the food system may be
within the community but they also may be part of the global or regional
system instead.

Growing - the process of preparing the soil, planting, maintaining the


food item to be harvested. There are a variety of ways to grow products
depending on the culture and climate. Large corporate farms may use
chemically manufactured pesticides to maintain their crop while a local
farmer may use other plants as pesticides.

Growing Season – the period of time between when a seed or a start is


planted and the when it is harvested.

Harvesting – the process of reaping a food product from the earth. A


variety of harvesting methods are used across the world from hand
picking to large machinery that can harvest large portions at once.

Harvest Calendar – a calendar that indicates the period of the year when
crops are being harvested. Many harvest calendars also provide
information about when a crop is available from local harvest. This
period is usually quite a bit longer than the harvest period. For example,
see the New York State Harvest Calendar
http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/HarvestCalendar.html.
Health claims - claims about the relationship between a nutrient or food
and a disease or health-related condition, such as calcium and
osteoporosis, and fat and cancer.

Input – something introduced into a system or expended in its operation


to attain a result or output.

Interviewer Effects or Interviewer Bias – effects on the respondent’s


answers in an interview that are produced by characteristics of the
interviewer (including the interviewer’s attitudes or physical
characteristics like sex or race).

Marketing - labels and pictures on the boxes and containers in which


food is packaged. A large portion of the money used to buy the products
goes to the development of attractive images to encourage the consumer
to choose one product over another. The marketing step researches what
people are attracted to and finds ways to show the consumers their
products by television, newspaper, and magazine advertisements.

Natural Resources – something from the earth that we can use to


perform or create something we need or want. Most people know that oil
and gas are natural resources, but soil, water and air are also natural
resources required to produce food.

Open-ended questions – a type of question on an interview that does not


limit the respondent’s response to any pre-selected alternatives.

Output – something that is produced by a system. Outputs can be


desirable products, such as crops from a farm system, or undesirable,
such as nitrogen run-off from fertilizers used on a farm.

Packaging – the step in the food system in which food is put into
containers that will be presented to the consumers. The packagers
receive the food from the processors or the farms and put them in paper,
foil, plastic, cans, etc. for distribution to stores and markets.

Perennials – plants that will bear fruit for several years before needing to
be replaced with new plantings

Pie Chart – a circle that is divided into portions (pieces) that represent
the different possible responses to a question. The circle, or the whole
pie, represents all the people who responded to the question. The pieces
reflect how many of that total responded to the possible answers.
Population – the total number of individuals occupying an area or
making up a whole. A designated part of a universe from which a sample
is drawn; also, the aggregation of people or other research subjects to
which one wishes to generalize his or her research.

Processing - the step in the food system that involves everything done to
change the food form from its original, such as, cutting, freezing, boiling,
canning, etc. A food can be prepared in a variety of ways for a variety of
uses. For example, a processing plant may receive apples to process into
applesauce or apple juice.

Response Rate – the number of completed interviews or questionnaires


divided by the number of eligible respondents in the sample.

Retailing – the step in which food is transported to market. This may be


at a family owned grocery store or a franchised supermarket.

Sample - a small group of people selected in order to find out something


about the entire population. The sample is usually selected randomly, so
that it is more likely to be representative of the population

Serving size - the basis for reporting each food's nutrient content. It is
uniform and reflects the amounts of a food people actually eat.

Shelf life – the amount of time a food will maintain quality at room
temperature

Storing - keeping food items in a climate controlled environment until it


is used. For example, this is done with apples in the northeast in order
for local apples to available throughout the winter months. Some foods
are more perishable so they cannot be stored for a long period of time
while potatoes can be kept for many months.

Subject – someone who agrees to participate in a study.

Survey Research – the research strategy where one collects data from all
or part of a population to assess the relative incidence, distribution, and
interrelations of naturally occurring variables.

System - an interdependent group of items that form a unified whole.


A system is a group of interacting, interrelated, and oftentimes
interdependent elements that function together as a complex, unified
whole. A core concept is that a change in one element of a system has an
impact, either directly or indirectly, on one or more additional elements
in that system. Systems theory provides a holistic perspective for
examining the boundaries of a related set (or sets) of elements,
delineating subsystems, considering relationships among subsystems,
and exploring the tendency toward a stable state of equilibrium (Sobal et
al, 1998). Systems theory rejects the idea that components of any system
should be, indeed can be, treated or considered in isolation from other
related components or elements of the system. The focus is on
relationships or processes at various levels within a system (Buckley,
1967).

Transporting - the step in the food system that brings the food product
from the producing farm or storage facility to the processing facility or
right to the market if it is to be sold fresh. This can be by air, truck,
train or barge. In the instance of a farm stand, the farmer may bring the
food up to the stand by tractor thereby significantly reducing the
transportation involved.

U.S. Census Bureau - a part of the government that conducts surveys to


determine the population number and the aspects of that population in
the United States.