Eating the World: Food Literacy and its Place in Secondary School Classrooms




Stinson, Erin

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Food shapes our lives: not simply by governing biological processes, but also shaping our memories, emotions and culture. Modern urbanized societies have lost touch with both the biological reality and cultural necessity of food choices. As a society, we seem to be talking a lot about food, but is this important to teach in schools? Examining the roles of citizenship education reveals distinct overlaps between both social justice and ecological citizenship with the food system as a powerful nexus. As a pedagogical tool, the food system is a useful way of examining the interplay between social, political, economic, and environmental aspects of many issues. Food literacy within public education is proposed as a way for students to enact citizenship values in both a personal and community-oriented way and may be a central component in developing sustainable food systems. Within one secondary school, Grade 9, 10, and 12 subject areas that would not normally use food as a teaching theme were selected. Within each class, several academic curricula were linked to various aspects of food literacy and teachers experimented with teaching a variety of food-related activities. Through interviews, teachers shared insights about their personal and their students’ learning process. Students revealed a richer and more complex understanding of food at the societal and global level and many created recommendations for personal and community change. Emergent themes and challenges for implementation by teachers and a whole school approach are examined. Sample activities, recommendations for implementation within professional communities, and an annotated list of resources are provided.



food literacy, food security, secondary education, ecological citizenship