Fruits and vegetables globetrotters!

Date: 01-29/ 04/ 2022

Introduction

The Etwinning project “Merry go round with a vest” resulted in the development of educational activities around the concept of globalization through a partnership of students from Greece, Italy and Spain. Following Wolgang Korn’s book “Die Weltreise einer Fleeceweste” (English title: “Made on Earth: What we wear, where it comes from, where it goes”), students worked on topics such as circular economy, sustainable behavior, human rights, and responsible consumption.

Participating schools:

3rd Primary School of Chios, Greece – Despina Armenaki

32nd Primary School of Pireaus, Greece – Margarita Dakoronia,

Primary School of Merate, Italy – Roberta Colombo

Primary School of Muro de Alcoy-, Spain – Inmaculada Mollá TodolĂ­, Maria Pau Vilaplana

4th Primary School of Menemeni Thessaloniki, Greece – Anatoli Vrocharidou

54th Primary School of Pireaus, Greece – Chrysoula Georgakopoulou

3rd Primary School of Zakynthos, Greece – Athanasia Glezaki

Primary School of Astypalaia, Greece- Efimia Stavla

The activity

Many of the food products that we choose to consume, travel long distances in order to reach our family table resulting to important environmental and social issues which concern us more and more every day: Climate crisis, economic impoverishment of small-scale local producers, loss of sense of food seasonality are just some of them attributed to our consumer choices. The greatest human pressure on nature is the production and consumption of food.

Our students gained a better understanding of these facts and raised their awareness towards responsible consumption and a sustainable diet after conducting a field research project.  During a trip to our school’s nearest super market, our students observed the labels of food products in the grocery sector and noted the products’ origins and prices. Many kinds of fruits and vegetables have arrived from places many miles away, such as Chile, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, China, Peru, Ecuador, etc. Many of our pupils had questions to which they needed to find the answers on their own.

  • From where do the food products come?
  • Why do imported fruits and vegetables cost less than local ones sometimes?
  • In terms of our health and the environment, why is it better to buy food from local producers?
  • What are food miles and how do they affect our environmental footprint?

fruit and vegetables,stem discovery week 2022 – YouTube

Research on the field

As students returned to class, they organized their data and studied related resources. 

Do food miles really matter? Where does the food come from? What the food miles are? The local food on shaping economy Health and well being Food Sustainability Is it necessary to change our food system? 

Their reports cited food product categories and their origins in tables and graphs. Afterwards, they calculated the food miles of each product on a website and distinguished the more environmentally friendly ones via a shape diagram.

Calculating food miles
Visualizing food miles
Statistics
Presenting results into the classroom

As a means of ensuring food sustainability, they agreed to support local producers. Local products are produced  within the limits of their ecosystems, creating a secure food system that contrasts with massive food production.

Fruits and vegetables globetrotters – YouTube

The students visited local producers to learn about local products. As an example, they observed the process of producing eggs, milk, and orange juice. They discussed with farmers the difficulties they encounter and the benefits they provide to their local communities.

Visiting local producers
Discussing with locals about the merchant of oranges

Afterwards, in order to help our students develop more sustainable consumption habits, we asked them to observe their diet for one week and capture their food routines in a menu diary. Each student answered questions such as:

  • What foods are on their weekly menu?
  • How varied is their diet? Do they throw away much food?
  • Where do they buy their food?
  • What do they visit more often, a local food store or a supermarket?
  • Do they prefer organic or fair-trade products? If so, why?
Students record their food routines

An enlightening discussion in the classrooms followed, with students sharing their thoughts and proposing small changes to their consumption habits.

For raising awareness in school communities, students published their findings and created polls to gather information and discuss food habits among classmates. After that, they encouraged students to improve their diet and upload it to the “What we eat” survey in which the carbon footprint is exposed in an artistic way.

It was a valuable and exciting experience for all participating students. Finally they came to the following important conclusions:

  • We can improve our health and fight climate change by adopting healthier and more sustainable diets.
  • Buying local food supports the local economy, supports families, keeps jobs and strengthens community and culture.
  • Each person’s diet has an impact on the planet.

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