Case study: All Things Food
As any biological species, we humans need food to survive. Food delivers nutrients such as carbs, amino acids, fibers, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Througout the human history food was hunted, collected, cooked in a variety of ways, preserved, selected and grown to improve certain qualities and properties. At the same time taste, personal preferences, access to food and cost of food are all factors which influence what we eat and how we eat it. This case study revolves around issues related to the production and consumption of food such as: healthy eating and healing foods, superfoods, organic food, junk food and GMO-based foods. We adopt different perspectives - from individual choice of food to global implications of food growing.
All Things Food
Recommended for: high school students, university students, adults
Tags: food production, economics, environment, sustainable development, health, personal choices, diets
Building blocks 1-3
Building blocks 4-7
We addresse the issue of how superfoods -- or foods, in general -- can be used as an alternative treatment for serious diseases such as cancer, etc. The Internet, and a multitude of TV shows, ads and commercials are full of claims of advantages and positive affects of superfoods. Eating superfood -- also know as super-nutrition -- has become more and more popular in recent years and it is widely associated with healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. The most likely reason is that people are becoming more and more aware that choosing a healthy and balanced diet can really affect our well-being and health. Superfoods, in spite of their title, are not foods with supernatural powers, but they are, in most cases, simply (more or) less known foods that have high levels of certaing ingredients which are important for maintaining good health.
The term "superfood" has became very popular in the last few years. Experts warn that it is just another marketing creation with the aim of earning as much money as possible for the businesses behind it. A food gets "promoted" to superfood status when it offers high levels of desirable nutrients, when it is linked to the prevention of a disease or is believed to offer several simultaneous health benefits beyond its nutritional value. These super nutrients can also be found in other foods.
There is an ever-increasing public awareness of the overall emissions from the food production chain -- such as greenhouse gas and various pollutants -- and a general agreement that these emissions could be reduced by targeting the demand for meat and other livestock products, particularly where consumption is higher than suggested by human health guidelines.
This building block explores a very popular debate with regard to organic and GMO food. The focus is on health benefits and concerns; real and imaginary. This debate can be observed in public media, but is also a frequent topic for discussion among family and friends. We attempt to help learners discover the facts, understand the factors which influence their opinions, and make an informed judgement for themselves. Going through the mountains of information in a focused and orderly way is a skill which has much wider applications and is fully-transversal.
There are currently over 7.7 billion people on this planet, expected to rise to over 10 billion by 2060. In order to feed that many people, we would need to dramatically change either our consumption, or the production of food -- possibly both. With limited resources, including land and water, scientific developments in the field of GMO have opened up entirely new possibilities for improving the nutrition of humanity. At the same time, production and demand for organic food are booming and organic foods can now be found in almost every supermarket. These two trends seem to contradict each other, but is this really the case? Let's explore the global implications of these trends in food production and consumption.
Why do some people have a clear preference for a specific type of food? What is "junk food", and why people like it? What's the big deal with "organics"? Or "superfoods"? What do we actually know about these foods, and what makes us prefer one or the other?
Organic food and GMO-based food are part of a large industry with immense importance for every economy. These range from food supply, pricing and affordability, health and lifestyle implications. And it's no big secret that businesses have conventional business interests. Often business intentions lack the sincerity and purity they claim to have and attempt to attribute to their actions. But how can we know for sure whether the producers and traders operate in line with the public interest? Marketing tricks, anyone? How easy or difficult is it to cut through the marketing messaging and find out the truth?
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