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Unit 3: Consumers and Communities

This unit examines how the food system affects consumers and communities. Once food is produced, factors such as marketing, labeling, socioeconomic status, and government policy influence what food people are able to eat and how it impacts their health.

Download the entire curriculum lesson planslesson plans with handouts, and lesson plans with handouts and slides.

Lesson 10: Decoding Food Labels

Food products are labeled with words like “natural” and “humane,” and some are certified as “USDA Organic” or “gluten free.” Students will learn how to read and critically interpret common food labels, review who regulates and verifies the accuracy of these labels, and create their own food labels.


Lesson 11: Marketing: Under the Influence

The typical American child saw an estimated 4,787 televised advertisements for food and beverages in 2013—over 13 per day. Fast food was advertised more than any other product. Students will examine how food companies market their products, explore the impact of food marketing on individuals’ choices, and discuss how food marketing should be regulated.


Lesson 12: Why We Eat What We Eat

Many factors contribute to a person’s food choices, from geographic location to culture to socioeconomic status. Students will explore the many external factors that affect why we eat what we eat.


Lesson 13: Our Wasted Food

In the United States, as much as 40 percent of harvested food is never eaten. Students will learn why food waste is a problem and explore strategies to reduce it. Extension projects will further empower students to take action to reduce food waste in their homes, schools, and communities.


Lesson 14: The Hunger Gap

Students will consider how to define and measure hunger and food insecurity, examine community food availability maps, and explore interventions designed to improve food security.


Lesson 15: Food Policy in Action

Students will explore key areas of policy influence on the food system and learn how individuals and communities can influence food policy decisions. The lesson wraps up with a mock food policy council, where students will adopt the perspectives of different stakeholders and propose their own food policy interventions. This lesson leads naturally into the culminating Food Citizen Action Project.