The story of what’s happened to our food system is a complicated one. Hard for adults to understand, let alone children who have never known anything else, and often have little or no control over what they eat.
But the reality is, unless kids understand what it all means—to their health, the environment, their community and social justice—nothing is likely to change. They simply won’t have the tools to fight for healthy food for themselves and their peers, to challenge fast food marketing, to question a system that is making us and our planet sick.
Movies and creative teaching tools decoding this complex subject for kids are essential. That’s why I’m working on creating an archive of smart and fun curriculum links and films/short videos (check out my Resources page as I continue to build it!). I’ve just added USC Canada’s terrific resources for teachers and parents who want to talk about food justice with kids. The organization, which promotes family farms, strong rural communities and healthy ecosystems, has put together a variety of teaching tools, including the short film, The Story of Food, a fun and straightforward primer on our changing food system, especially as it relates to farmers.
The film breaks down how food has changed over the last 50 years, what these changes have done to our environment and what we can all do about it. The USC Canada site also offers teaching games like Rice Web and Banana Web—in which kids use yarn and story cards to explore how these foods make it from seed to table. They even provide a Powerpoint presentation about what kids and school communities can do to campaign for food justice—including food art, guerilla gardening and guerilla eating (for instance, taking over an alleyway and having a big community dinner).
For teachers who feel as if they don’t know where to begin to break down the complicated problems in our food system, this is a great place to begin.