An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels

FOOD

Food packaging isn’t just the shell that protects or contains a product. It’s a powerful miniature billboard—a tool that food producers use to reel in customers. It’s also a document, of sorts, that conveys how a food was produced and whether the government has overseen that process. The problem for consumers? Knowing the difference. (Nat Geo’s The Plate blog)

Use our resources, including interactives, activities, and videos, for teaching about food and food issues.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

What does “fortified” mean? What percentage of vitamins does a donut need to qualify? Alas, we’ll never know. The spoilsport FDA’s food-enrichment guidelines never gave the stamp of approval to Vitamin Donuts. Illustration courtesy FDA. Public domain

What makes a donut “fortified”? What percentage of vitamins does a donut need to qualify? Alas, we’ll never know. The spoilsport FDA’s food-enrichment guidelines never gave the stamp of approval to Vitamin Donuts. This week, they’re considering what makes a food “natural.”
Illustration courtesy FDA. Public domain

Discussion Ideas

 

  • How do your students define an “all-natural food”?
    • Could the food contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
    • Could the food be grown using pesticides?
    • Could animals used in production (such as dairy cows) be fed growth or health-related medications?
    • Could the food be processed (chicken nuggets, for instance)?
    • Could the food be artificially colored?

 

 

 

  • What does cage-free, free-range, or free-roaming eggs mean?
    • According to the USDA, “eggs labeled ‘cage-free’ or ‘free-roaming’ are ‘laid by hens that are allowed to roam in a room or open area, which is typically a barn or poultry house,’ while ‘free-range’ or ‘pasture-fed’ eggs are ‘produced by hens raised outdoors or with access to outdoors.’”

 

  • What does “humanely raised” mean?
    • There is no legal or governmental definition of livestock that is humanely raised. However, “third-party certification systems have popped up in recent years as more consumers have become concerned about how animals live—and die.”

 

  • What do your students consider conditions for “humanely raised” livestock? Here is one five-step system to give you some ideas.
    • Could animals be raised on small or large farms?
    • Would animals live their entire lives on the same farm?
    • Would animals roam freely, be caged, or have time in each environment? How large would the cages or enclosures have to be? What materials would be used? Where would they be located (indoor or outdoor, warm or cool spaces, etc.)?
    • What kind of food would the animals eat?
    • How would the animals interact with humans or each other?
    • What level of health care would the animals receive?

 

 

  • What does “farm fresh” or “farm-to-fork” mean?
    • There is no legal or governmental definition of farm-fresh food. Many buyers associate “farm fresh” or “farm-to-fork” with locally grown produce.

 

  • How would your students define “farm fresh” or “locally grown”?
    • How far away is “local”?
    • How old is “fresh”?

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels

Nat Geo: Food Education resources

2 responses to “An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels

  1. Pingback: An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels — Nat Geo Education Blog – Welcome to the World of Ekasringa Avatar!·

  2. Pingback: An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels – Bernedeth's basics·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s