Activities for Module IV Apples, Beets, and Zinnias: Sustainable Horticulture
Activities for Section D: The Economics of Horticultural Production
Activity 1: Price Tags, Cost Tags
Purpose: Students will learn about external costs of fruit and vegetable production and distribution.
Estimated time: 20 to 50 minutes
Divide the class into small groups.
- Ask the groups to read and discuss the price tag/cost tags for apples, tomatoes, and/or strawberries.
Sample discussion questions:
Do people think about social and environmental costs when shopping for food? Should they? Why or why not?
Should the price tag/cost tags include other factors? Which ones?
- Ask each group to summarize the results of their discussion for the whole class. If groups have different answers, you can invite them to defend their answers. If they all have the same answers, you might want to be the challenger.
- Ask each group to develop a price tag/cost tag for another horticultural item grown in state. They should include all the categories of the sample tags and may add one or two external costs if they wish. On the initial draft, the groups likely will not have the precise information they need. They should put down their best guesses and list questions they would need to research. (Suggested items include lettuce, cherries, basil, sweet corn, melons, flowers, garlic, carrots.)
- Optional. Have each group research their questions and produce a complete price tag/cost tag. Research resources on the web include Pesticide Action Network North America, the What’s On My Food website, and the USDA summary of 11 major vegetable crops produced in US.
Activity 2: Design Your Own Ecolabel
Purpose: Students will learn about what goes into developing a food label, including issues of government regulation.
Advance preparation: Select an eco-label to present as an example, such as the Food Alliance. You may present the example in your own way or use the Ecolabel powerpoint. Decide how you want the groups to present their labels (poster, oral presentation, powerpoint)
Estimated time: 50 minutes or more
- Explain the project and the idea of an ecolabel to the class. You can use the Ecolabel powerpoint.
- Divide the class into small groups and have each group develop an ecolabel. Each ecolabel project must include the following:
- specify the crop to be covered by the label (groups can choose the same crop for which they developed a “price tag/cost tag”)
- specify what claims the label will make and explain why those claims were chose
- identify whether any of the claims are regulated (if students have internet access, they can check the regulatory status of many common claims at Econo-labels index)
- decide whether the label will be independently .
- design a logo
- outline a marketing plan
- design a sample marketing tool such as a brochure or ad
- Have each group present its label to the whole class
- Extra credit: Ecolabel “show and tell” Have students purchase an item with an ecolabel and bring it to class.
Activity 3: Food Inequality
Treat your class to a variation of a hunger banquet.
Purpose: Students will learn about unequal access to food in the US.
Advance preparation: Purchase snack materials for each student in the class (see below). Package snacks in paper bags so they look the same.
Estimated time: 15 to 20 minutes
- Distribute the snacks to the students.
- Give two or three students a rich person’s snack (for example fresh organic fruit and a fine pastry or chocolate).
- Give a third of the students a healthy middle class snack (for example crackers or bread, cheese, and carrot sticks)
- Give a third of the students an unhealthy middle class snack (for example donuts or cookies and soda)
- Give the rest of the students a poor snack (for example nothing or one piece of gum or half a cracker. You can use crumpled newspaper to stuff the bag)
- Begin the discussion with these questions:
- Which snack would the students prefer? Why?
- Ask them to rank the snacks in order of what they think their cost is.
- Which snack do they think would satiate them (fill them up) the most?
- Which snacks are most nutritious?
- Let the class know what each of the snacks cost. Have the class discuss how this roughly represents food security in the US: about ten to twenty percent of the people can afford the finest foods (fresh, organic, carefully prepared), most people can easily afford enough food, but there are a lot of unhealthy options out there, and some people cannot afford enough food. Also, some poor people buy non-nutritious fattening foods because they are relatively cheap and very filling.
- Use the activity as a lead-in to present the information on hunger and obesity in the US in the background / lesson.
- Optional. Ask the students what might be done to solve the problem of hunger in the US.
- Would producing more food solve the problem?
- Can private charity such as food pantries solve the problem?
- Do government food programs such as school lunches and food stamps solve the problem?
- Are there other approaches students can suggest?
- Optional. Ask students what might be done to address obesity in the US.
- Will more education help?
- How can nutritious food be made more accessible and junk food less accessible?
- What would make people more physically active?
Typically hunger banquets are used to educate people about world-wide inequalities in food access. For information on this type of hunger banquet see Oxfam America news and publications. Organizing such an event could be an excellent FFA activity.