Food Chains

classroom postit

What defines a job in the food system? This was the first question to our lesson this week at Roosevelt High. It’s a straightforward question with a straightforward answer. ANY job that plays a role in carrying out a food chain.

Ultimately, what does this mean?

I brought in a bottle of Ketchup to to my students’ classrooms and we talked about the process of different jobs that went into creating that ketchup. First, the tomatoes were grown on a farm (we ignored the other ingredients of sugar, vinegar and salt). Then all the ingredients were brought to a facility to be cooked, packaged, labeled and quality tested. Once a bottle is ready to be sold, it has to be distributed; it is typically bought by a whole sale retailer, such as Costco or Sam’s club. From there, either smaller retailers buy these products to resell in markets/grocery stores, or they are prepared in restaurants and served in a meal. The last part is consumption, an important role in the food system, which EVERYONE is a part of.

For an activity, each student wrote down one job that fit into each category; producers, processors, distributors, retail, and consumers. We discussed the significance of these jobs and their impact on the food system. One student included a janitor/custodian, a job that is SO essential to processing/retail and is often overlooked that is essential to a food system/food supply. Producers, which includes farmers and farm-workers, are arguably the first and most essential part of the system. Ironically, they only make up 1% of all jobs in the US.

When understanding where the cost of where food comes from, my students learned that the category that incurs the greatest value to the food has the greatest leverage on price, which is unsurprisingly the processing of food.

producersprocessors

We had some time at the end to go into the garden and harvest this carrot, among a few other things. We also brought out our compost that we had started in the classrooms just a few weeks prior.

carrot harvest

Lindsay De May

My love for food and enriching food systems has brought me to LA after graduating in May from Syracuse University with a degree in Food Studies, concentrating on food politics and governance. I grew up gardening with my family in New Mexico, spent a summer working on an organic produce farm in New York, and spent three years as a teaching assistant for food science, locavorism and culinary arts classes. I look forward to incorporating my experiences in developing an exciting curriculum for my elementary and high school courses, with the hope that I'll inspire them to appreciate food the way I do!

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