As well as a necessity for survival, food plays a key role in many cultural and religious traditions around the world, from Eid Al-Fitr whichmarks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, to the Thanksgiving turkey in the United States, to the good old Kiwi BBQ. Growing, preparing and consuming food is something that connects us all at a personal level, but our food comes from a global supply system which is responsible for trade injustices, migration, loss of biodiversity, climate change, governance and ownership concerns, and genetic modification.
Food plays a critical role in our health. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of undernourishment. The majority of undernourished in the world are not suffering from acute starvation, but long-term insufficient nutrition which impacts on people’s health, compromising their immune system and making them more vulnerable to diseases and infections. Poor nutrition can harm children and young people’s healthy brain and body development. Elsewhere, an increase in cheap fast food with low nutritional value has resulted in food-related health issues such as obesity and diabetes.
Students should be encouraged to think about food outside of their lunch hour. They should be given the chance to consider where their food comes from, how it is grown or produced, the impact on people and place and the different perspectives and values placed on food around the world.
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The Social Sciences curriculum provides many opportunities for exploring issues around food from a global perspective, for example:
Social Science Level 3
Understand how people make decisions about access to and use of resources.
Social Science Level 4
Understand how producers and consumers exercise their rights and meet their responsibilities.
Social Science Level 5
Understand how economic decisions impact on people, communities, and nations.
Understand how people’s management of resources impacts on environmental and social sustainability.
Social Science Level 6
Social Studies – understand how cultures adapt and change and that this has consequences for society.
Economics – understand how, as a result of scarcity, consumers, producers, and governments make choices that affect society.
Social Science Level 7
Economics – understand how government policies and contemporary issues interact.
Social Science Level 8
Economics – understand that well-functioning markets are efficient but that governments may need to intervene where markets fail to deliver efficient or equitable outcomes.