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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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Teaching the Food System

A Project of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

How is food connected to health, justice and the environment?
After reflecting on the roles food plays in their lives, students will follow the stages along the supply chains of several foods from field to plate. More
How does industrial food animal production compare with alternative approaches?
Students will respond to a short film featuring farmers’ perspectives on public health, rural communities, animal welfare and the environment. More
What are the strengths and limitations of local food systems?
After exploring the rationale for transporting food over long distances, students will map the distribution routes of several multi-ingredient foods. More
How is our food supply dependent on ecosystems?
Students will trace the ingredients of a meal back to their origins in the soil. They will assess some of the challenges facing agriculture and suggest plans to address them. More
Why and how are foods processed?
Students will brainstorm the steps involved in manufacturing several processed foods and explore the harms and benefits associated with food processing. More

Free Classroom-Ready Curriculum

  • Lesson plans engage students in critical analyses of food system issues. Rich, classroom-based activities include discussions, debates, poster projects and more.
  • Slides, handouts, vocabulary builders and other supplementary materials help educators deliver compelling lessons with minimal preparation.
  • Background readings brief educators and students on the key issues.
  • A story-driven film illustrates concepts from the curriculum with compelling narratives.
  • Teaching modules suit a variety of contexts, including high school and college level courses. They can be taught in any order, either independently or as part of a series.

Explore the Curriculum

I adapted two of the modules for my science class. They gave me concrete, meaningful tools that fit with the state curriculum. I love what I see in this program and look forward to working it into my entire curriculum for next year.
Jo Campbell, Grades 9-12 Community Referenced Instruction, Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland

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What is the Food System?

The food system spans the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment.

Why Teach the Food System?

This study of the food system spans multiple subjects, including environmental science, biology and social studies. It can help prepare learners for careers in public health, policy, nutrition, agriculture and a variety of other fields. Read more.