This article identifies the culprits and the reasons behind the shocking amount of food which is wasted in Canada annually and explores the implications of this wastage.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Economics, environmental studies, world issues, family studies

Key Questions to Explore:

  • Why is so much food wasted?
  • Who is responsible?
  • What are the implications?
  • What can be done?

New Terminology:

FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN); Love food, hate waste

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

When we think of climate change, we usually consider such things as consumption of fossil fuels, the sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the impact all this is having on our environment. In those discussions, however, there seldom is a mention of food production and wastage as a source of concern. Another issue of growing concern is the global food shortage that is developing but, again, there is little or no reference to the amount of food that is wasted. Studies are emerging which show that more than half the food produced in Canada is wasted, and on a global scale that number is one third. This shocking statistic reveals a very serious problem which must be addressed in order to help alleviate the food shortage but also to eliminate the impact it has on climate change. The production of food requires land, water and fertilizer and generates GHG emissions in its production. There is, however, another major factor to be considered. Food sent to landfill sites releases methane, and in the case of Canada, this amounts to the equivalent of 12,000,000 cars being run year-round.  This lesson will draw this issue to the attention of the students and ask them to consider ways in which this issue could be addressed and things that could be done to make our use of food more efficient.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by putting the students in pairs and asking them to identify what they think are the major world issues facing us today.
  • Allow them time to compile their list and then have each pair join another pair, compare lists and compile a comprehensive list from their discussions.
  • Have each foursome report their list to the class and compile a list based on the responses from the groups.
  • Hopefully, on that list will be climate change and a growing world-wide food shortage.
  • If not, identify them as additional issues and indicate that these will be the focus of the lesson.
  • Ask the groups if they can see any connection between climate change and food production and consumption.
  • Allow them some time to discuss their answer and then have the groups report.
  • Once this has been done, ask the groups to estimate what percentage of food is wasted on a global scale.
  • With their estimates recorded give them the article to read and ask them to discuss their reactions to it within their groups.
  • With this completed, have the groups report their reactions.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each foursome join with another foursome to discuss and consolidate reasons why they believe there is such wastage and the implications this wastage has for climate change.
  • Have these groups of eight report their findings to the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify the shocking degree of food wastage that is occurring;
  • Explain the reasons for this wastage;
  • Outline the implications for our environment;
  • Offer suggestions as to how this problem can be corrected.

Confirming Activity:

  • As a concluding and consolidating activity, have the groups of eight develop a proposed list of ways in which this exorbitant wasting of food can be addressed in order to ease both the food shortage and environmental impact. Have them report their suggestions to the class and hold a plenary session for any final comments or insights.