Freight Debate

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MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO:  The transportation of goods contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which can have negative environmental consequences.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. What fruits and vegetables have you eaten today?
  2. What fruits and vegetables are currently in season?
  3. Have you ever looked at your fresh foods to see where they were grown? If so, where are some of the places they’ve come from?

 

Focus:

  1. Why is the freight passenger concerned about the presence of oranges in the plane?
  2. What does the green ninja do to the plane to fix the problem?
  3. How does the carbon footprint from transporting goods on a boat compare to that of a plane?
  4. What are steps you can take to help reduce the amount of CO2 emitted from the transport of goods?

 

Follow-up:

  1. Where can you get in-season local foods?
  2. Where can you find recipes to help you cook in-season locally grown foods?
  3. Besides buying locally grown foods, what are some other actions you can take to reduce you carbon footprint?

 

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. Answers will vary. Hopefully students have eaten some fresh fruits and/or vegetables in order to generate reflection on the video.

 

  1. Answers will vary depending on season. The USDA has a handy chart of seasonal produce here.  Some produce is in season year round, while others are only in season for a few months.  A few examples:  Winter—potatoes, oranges, lemons, grapefruit; Spring—garlic, mushrooms, rhubarb, spinach; Summer—blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries; Fall—spinach, mushrooms, mangoes, cranberries.

 

  1. Answers will vary. Some students might be eating grapes from Chile or oranges from Brazil.  The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has statistics on the largest exporters of most agricultural products.

 

Focus:

  1. The oranges were being shipped from Brazil to Florida (which is where the bulk of oranges are produced in the US). Such a shipment would seem unnecessary given our ability to grow the fruit within our country.  The oranges were being shipped by plane, which resulted in a very large carbon footprint (which has a negative environmental impact).

 

  1. The green ninja transforms the plane into a cargo ship and gently guides it to a body of water for shipping.

 

  1. Transporting food by plane creates 100 times more carbon emissions than shipping by boat.

 

  1. Eating foods that are locally grown and in season can alleviate the shipping problem (local foods don’t travel as far).

 

 

Follow-up:

  1. Answers will vary. Some cities might have farmers markets or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.  Other cities might have food co-ops that buy from local farmers.  Students need to understand that buying locally means they are more limited in what they eat—they won’t be able to buy blueberries in March, for example.

 

  1. Answers will vary. There are many helpful recipe websites—ask students to discuss any they’ve used.  A few good ones include Whole Foods, Epicurious, and the Food Network.

 

  1. Answers will vary. Students can do things such as take public transportation, carpool or ride a bike when traveling.  They can turn off lights when they are not in a room, switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, invest in insulating curtain to decrease heating/cooling needs, and many others. See some more examples at Georgetown University’s sustainability page.

 

ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES:

A carbon footprint measures how much various lifestyle choices can contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.  There is a fun online carbon footprint calculator at the global footprint network that takes into consideration individual choices around housing style, diet and travel (the students can create an avatar).

 

Use this table from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture as the beginning of a conversation on the topic of food miles.  A study conducted in 1998 measured how many miles various produce had traveled to market in the city of Chicago.  Ask students to look at the data and find foods that had traveled the most and the fewest miles.  For older students, they can create a graph or graphic illustration that summarizes the data.

 

Students can create their own class cookbook with recipes for produce that is currently in season.  Assign students to small groups and ask them to find a dish they can cook with in-season fruits or vegetables.  Have them generate an 8.5 x 11 page that displays the produce, along with the recipe.  They can display it around the classroom, or it can be made into either a paper or digital cookbook.

 

Assign an agricultural scavenger hunt.  In groups, students will visit a local grocery store and look for certain items (the number to be assigned by the teacher, allowing the students to pick which ones sound interesting) from a comprehensive list (see below) like a product with the label “organic” or “non-GMO”.  Once they’ve found an item, they take a picture of themselves with the item and create a PowerPoint presentation/blog entry/prezi that explains what they found (see assignment example below).

 

You will have one week to work through this scavenger hunt. Each item on the list is worth points.  To get 100% on this assignment, you must accumulate 50 points. To get the points when you complete the item, you must:

 

  • Take a picture of the item(s)
  • Do all parts of the task (take all pictures, make comparisons, answer questions, etc). There will be NO partial points given for any tasks
  • Post all of the pictures/answers to your blog

 

The Scavenger Hunt: The italicized items should get a photograph taken!

Points Tasks
5 Product from the farthest away possible. Determine how many miles away this product came from (look at the label!)Determine how many kilometers away this product came fromCalculate how much oil was required to get that product to the shelf
5 Product made from TempehDetermine what Tempeh is made of
5 Product (not produce) that likely contains GMOsWhich products have the highest chance of containing a GMO?
5 Example of produce that is a GMOWhat are the benefits for this product to be a GMO?Name one example of another GMO that could end world hunger.
10 According to the USDA, what are the major food groups?How much of each should a boy or girl (18 years of age) be getting of each?Picture of each food group in the correct amount
10 Examples of products that are labeled: “natural”, “100% organic”, “organic”, “made with organic materials”What is the difference between each of these labels?
10 Meats labeled “farm raised”, “wild caught”, “grain fed”, “Organic”, “Hormone Free”What are the pros and cons of each of these?Why are hormones fed to cattle?Why are antibiotics given to cattle?
10 An example of Beef produced by Tyson, Sanderson Farms, Butterball, Jennie-O, BoarsHead, Hillshire, or Oscar MeyerExplain what industrial meat production is. How are animals raised for these companies?For this example, how much water, land, and energy was used to make this amount of meat?
10 An example of Chicken produced by Tyson, Sanderson Farms, Butterball, Jennie-O, BoarsHead, Hillshire, or Oscar MeyerFor this example, how much water, land, and energy was used to make this amount of meat?
10 An example of the most unusual meat you can find (Ostrich, Buffalo, etc). 5 extra points if you have the most unusual meat in the class.What are some positives of using this kind of meat?
10 Example of fish or shellfish  that is “Wild Caught” or “farm raised”What are some pros and cons of each type of product?
10 An example of fish for each: “best choices”, “good alternatives”, and “avoid” (from SeaFood Watch)Explain why each fish type is classified the way it is.What is the price of each example? Does their price reflect their status?
5 Mention of bycatch or “dolphin free”Define bycatch.
2 Product made with High Fructose Corn SyrupWhat is the debate about high fructose corn syrup? Give the pros and cons of using this substance in food.
3 Eggs labeled “cage free” and “organic”How do these eggs differ from regular eggs?
5 Overly packaged food & similar food in less packagingWhat are the pros and cons of packaging?
10 Milk labeled: “soy”, “almond”, “organic”, and regular milkHow are the environmental impacts of each of these different?Is one of these healthier than others?
10 Coffee labeled: “fair trade”, “organic”, “rainforest certified”. “shade grown”What are some of the major environmental problems with coffee production?What are some of the major societal problems with coffee production?
10 “Organic”, “Natural”, and “Regular” baby food.What are the differences in marketing between these products—are some supposed to be more Earth Friendly than others.How far away did each of your products come from?How is each product packaged? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of packaging?
20 Item found at Farmer’s Market & the same item found at Grocery StoreWhat are some obvious differences between these two products?What is the price difference between these two products?
10 Example of a heirloom variety of produceWhat does the heirloom label mean?Why are heirlooms important to food security?
20 Ask someone at a farmers market: how do you keep away pests? Do you use pesticides? If not, what?
20 Ask someone at a farmers market: how do you fertilize? Do you use chemicals? If not, what?
20 Choose a type of produce; count how many varieties of that product you see at the farmer’s market and at the grocery store
5 The most local product you can find. 5 extra points for the most local product in the class (to NDSJ)Why is buying local good for the environment?Determine how many miles away this product came from (look at the label or ask)Determine how many kilometers away this product came fromCalculate how much oil was required to get that product to the shelf
5 Most unusual produce. 5 extra points for the most unusual in the class.
5 A non-edible organic product (candles, fabric, etc)Why would you care if its organic if you don’t eat it?
10 What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying from the grocery store; the farmers market?Create a T-chart of your answers
5 A nitrogen-based fertilizerHow is nitrogen used by the plant?What environmental impacts can nitrogen-based fertilizers have?
5 A phosphorus-based fertilizerHow is phosphorus used by the plant?What environmental impacts can phosphorus-based fertilizers have?
5 An organic fertilizer and an in-organic fertilizerWhat is the difference between each?What are the pros and cons of each type of fertilizer?
5 A pesticide that is general and a pesticide that has a specific targetWhat are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
30 Ask 25 people: “Do you think vegetarianism is good for the environment?”Create an appropriate graph of your data—be sure create an appropriate graph, with all the necessary components (axis labeled, title, etc)
30 Ask 25 people: “Do you think eating meat is bad for the environment?”Create an appropriate graph of your data—be sure create an appropriate graph, with all the necessary components (axis labeled, title, etc)
5 A plant that protects against pestsHow could you use plants like this in an industrial-sized garden?
Total*

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES:

Ask students to spend some time on the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations website to become familiar with where in the world the foods they eat can come from.

The Green Ninja website has a page on the topic of food miles here and many easy-to-read pages on related topics (like how dietary choices compare to driving a car in terms of carbon dioxide emissions) here.

A good primer on food distribution and transport can be found at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

 

 

Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Lee Pruett.

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