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Global Food System - The Global Food System Classroom Resources



Through the video students are introduced to the global food system, some of the challenges it causes and how the choices we make affect it.

Key Issues

- Farming methods (e.g. intensification, deforestation).
- Where does our food come from? – the world food map.
- Local food vs international production.
- Transport and refrigeration – the importance of oil.
- Food and climate change.
- Food waste.


The world is increasingly interconnected when it comes to food production and consumption. The global food system means people in the UK can eat a wider variety of foods, at low costs, all year round. The UK imports approximately 40% of the food it consumes, which is more than at any time in recent history. The global food industry provides jobs and investment in many LEDCs which is crucial to their economic development. But while globalisation of food has brought many benefits there are downsides. Should we buy in-season local produce or accept the carbon emissions from out-of-season imported food? Should forests be cleared in LEDCs to produce food for MEDC consumers? It is estimated that food wasted by the USA and Europe alone could feed the world three times over.


Starter Activities

  Use one or more of the World Mapper maps on food imports and exports to highlight the imbalance in the global food system and start a discussion.
  Ask each person in the class what food they have thrown away in the last week. Write everything up on the board to highlight how much food we waste.


Enquiry Questions

 - Why do we buy our food come from all around the world? When is it better to buy food grown in the UK?  Why?
 - How does the global food system contribute to climate change?
 - Meat production is seen as more damaging to the environment than crop farming, so should we all become vegetarians?
 - What impact does countries like China and India getting richer have on the global food system?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of importing food from LEDCs and growing our own food here in the UK. Match foods to their description and country of origin (see worksheet, activity 1) From the points raised by students then write a short article explaining which, in their view, we should encourage.
  • Use the pie chart showing where the UK imports food from (see diagram pack, diagram 2) and through a web enquiry or other resources ask the students to find at least one food product that we import from each country. An extension task could be to find out if we produce any of those foods here in the UK as well.
  • Using the ‘Hunger Map’ (see diagram pack, diagram 8) ask students to describe the distribution of hunger across the world. Or find similar data and ask students to shade a blank map based on the data distribution. Then explore the reasons for hunger and its distribution. This could lead on to activities on increasing food prices and the reasons and impacts globally.
  • Explore how much food waste we produce and the impact it has. Create a poster that informs people of these facts and what can be done to improve the situation. Discuss how this could be improved in your school.


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