Search for Resources

Tread Lightly: Low Carbon Lunch

Secondary, Middle

Description

This ESD resource helps students see how to reduce their carbon footprint by paying particular attention to their food choices. Students will discover how food choices can impact the environment.

To reach these objectives, students will:

  • Watch a video describing the carbon footprint of the famous cheeseburger;
  • Participate in a group discussion about this video;
  • Select a food item sold in the school cafeteria and trace its carbon footprint;
  • Create a video that tells the story of the carbon footprint of that food item;
  • Participate in the "Low Carbon Lunch Challenge", an online program that permits students to document their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by eating local products and reducing waste;
  • Finally students are encouraged to organize a school-wide LOW Carbon Lunch campaign.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource explicitly teaches how to analyze the carbon footprint of the foods we consume.

Strengths

This resource is up-to-date, interesting, and very relevant for students. The activities get students to connect with the subject by having them analyze their own eating habits.

The "Cheeseburger Footprint" video gives a great first look at what a food item's carbon footprint is. The website " Low Carbon Lunch Challenge" is also very well constructed and easy to use. The suggested supplementary resources are very useful both for teachers and students.

Weaknesses

It would be useful for the teacher to have more information and guidelines to support the action project (Low Carbon Lunch Campaign). Students would benefit from having more structure and support with the different implementation steps. It would also be useful for the teacher to have rubric suggestions for assessment purposes.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource would be ideal for use in an environmental studies or geography class.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Food & Nutrition:Social, Economic, and Cultural Influences
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth and Space Science: Heat Transfer in Natural Systems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cafeteria Training : Principles of Food Preparation
        • Foods & Nutrition: Social, Economic & Cultural Issues
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cafeteria Training: Principles of Food Preparation
        • Food & Nutrition: Social, Economic & Cultural Influences
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainable Resources 12: Agricultural : Supports and Challenges
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21 st Century: Food from the Land
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Weather Dynamics
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Food Supply: Production and Distribution
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Weather Dynamics
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Human Population Issues in Canadian Geography
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
      • Physical Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Healthy Living 1200: Healthy Eating
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Weather Dynamics
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Weather Dynamics
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Family Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Food and Nutrition: Food Choices
        • Food and Nutrition: Local and Global Foods
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Family Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Food and Nutrition: Food Choices
        • Food and Nutrition: Local and Global Foods
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Applied)::Earth and Space Science: Earth's Dynamic Climate
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Reducing and Managing Waste
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Forces of Nature: Physical Processes and Disasters (Univ./College Prep.): The Physical Environment: Sustainability and Stewardship
        • Introduction to Spacial Technologies: (Open):Using Spacial technologies to Support Sustainability and Stewardship
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Sustainability of Natural Resources
        • Spatial Technologies in Action (Univ./College Prep.) Using Spatial Technologies to Support Sustainability
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Geography: Urban Patterns & Populations (Univ. / College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Home Economics: Food
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Home Economics:Food
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 431A: Weather Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Human Population and Carrying Capacity
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth and Space Science: Energy Transfers in Natural Systems

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Ecological Footprint
  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Local Food
    • Organic Farming

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource contains sufficient information concerning both conventional/industrial and organic agricultural impacts.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The environment is at the heart of this resource since it explores the carbon footprint of our food systems.  The economic dimension could be integrated during the discussions of conventional versus organic agriculture, and the social elements can be included throughout the project since becoming more conscious of the impact of our food choices is very much a social responsibility.  

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The video describing the carbon footprint of the cheeseburger demonstrates very well the complexity of the relationship between food choice and the environment. The discussion questions included with the video helps students further explore these complexities.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

Activity #2 gives students the chance to participate in an action project during which they are first asked to make changes in their personal life in terms of food choices and then challenge others in their school to do the same.

Students also get to work with an online tool. This tool permits them to measure the carbon footprint of their breakfast as a first step in  reducing it.

After this challenge, students have the opportunity to organize a campaign in their school called the LOW Carbon Lunch campaign. Students will launch their campaign at school, create posters, public service announcements, and even start a petition to have re-usable cutlery at the school cafeteria.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

This project gets students to reflect on how they can reduce the carbon footprint of the foods they consume but does not explicitly require that they state their opinions.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not applicable here.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The objective of this project is to reduce the carbon footprint of the foods that we consume.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good

This resource permits students to take a look at their own eating habits before taking a look at what goes on in their school's cafeteria.  The cheeseburger example really brings this home to the students.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The present is explored in this project, but the knowledge the students will have after completing these activities will help them in the future. By understanding the present situation, students will be better equiped to understand the future, when it comes to our foods' carbon footprints.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students come up with their own choices as to what would be sensible food options based on their analysis of the issue. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Students will have the opportunity to use their Language Arts skills in all activities and also apply Technology skills in creating the video or animation that tells the story of of the carbon footprint of a particular food item.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

In the first part of this project, students must reflect on the environmental consequences of our food system in order for them to discover that each food item we consume has a carbon footprint. Students are then invited to trace the carbon footprint of a food item of their choice.

Students also have flexibility as to which approach they would like to use in order to organize their Low Carbon Lunch Campaign.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

Visual learners will connect with the first part of the resource in which they get to trace the carbon footprint of a food item and then create a video or animation. Also, those who have a strong interpersonal and/or linguistic intelligences will benefit from the activities that require group discussions and projects.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

Students experience an authentic and concrete learning situation during the Low Carbon Lunch Campaign as well as by participating in the Low Carbon Lunch Challenge.  These activities allow students to truly see how they can reduce the carbon footprints.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students must work together in order to come up with effective ways to increase involvement in the Low Carbon Lunch intiative.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

Not included.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Students can demonstrate to others the carbon footprint of the food item they chose during activity #1.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The video " The Cheeseburger Footprint" is an authentic and familiar case study. The discussion questions help students analyze the information presented and to reflect on their own eating habits and on the kinds of food items sold in the cafeteria.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Students get to choose which approach they will use in order to launch their campaign.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.