Food Geography – Program Overview

Food Geography is The Cookbook Project’s middle school education program. This program has been tailored for youth participants in grades 6 – 8, which corresponds to ages 12 – 14.  Overall, the program focuses on giving young people an opportunity to look at food through both a local and global lens.

The curriculum has been inspired by a curiosity for our global food system, the origin of common foods, and an amazement for the deliciousness of local and seasonal foods. Participants will learn intermediate cooking skills, the concept of how foods grow, what grows where and when, and why eating a banana in New York is both commonplace and yet totally strange. Food Geography focuses on understanding food and its origins through history and the environment.

Learning Objectives

Through the Food Geography program, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the origins of common foods.
  • Identify the different flavors, spices, and ingredients associated with different regional cuisines.
  • Understand the concept of globalization and its impact on agriculture, including how food often travels long distances through food system supply chains.
  • Understand the benefits of locally harvested and organically grown food vs. conventionally grown, canned, and frozen produce from grocery stores.
  • Identify seasonal foods available in their climate/region and understand the benefits seasonal eating has on nutritional content, flavor, and the environment.
  • Increase food preparation skills by learning new methods like shredding, julienning, chopping, dicing, and mincing in salad/salsa/dressing preparation.
  • Understand how to incorporate spices into cooking while learning where and how such ingredients/flavors are used, what common foods they work with well, and whether/which have specific healthful properties.
  • Clarify what herbs are and how to dry and store them.
  • Use critical thinking skills to effectively read food labels and make decisions based on nutritional content, cost, and impact on health, the community, and environment.
  • Identify ‘real’ versus ‘fake’ ingredients and quality of ingredients.
  • Increase confidence in making great tasting and healthy snacks.

Session Structure

Component Time Summary
Opening Circle 5 minutes Opening activity or interactive question and answer / discussion. After day one, this will generally tie back in to the previous call to action activity.
Introduction 10 minutes Teacher will set the stage for the content with a question or example.
Content 40 minutes Main content or activity for the session.
Call to action 5 minutes Specific and measurable action items for students to ‘take home’ and consider until the next session.

Session Content

Session Name Content
1 Pre-test + Food Geography Measure where your participants are at in terms of their understanding of food and nutrition and introduce the curriculum with a session on Food Geography.
2 Culinary Passport Learn about where foods originally came from.
3 Cooking:Food Geography Dish Learn about and taste different ingredients that come from different parts of the world.
4 Healthy Herbs and Spices Understand the benefits of herbs and spices for taste and health, and learn how to use them.
5 Herbaceous Herbs Learn how to either plant or dry herbs (depending on resources and the season.
6 Salsas Around the World Learn about delicious global condiments and how to make different simple ‘salsas.’
7 Seasonal Eating Wheel


Understand the concept of seasonality and get to know fruit and vegetable seasons.
8 What’s Fresh Learn about the concepts of local, imported, organic, and conventional. Taste different items that fall into these categories.
9 Cooking: Garden Salad Preparation Use seasonal and local produce to make a garden salad with homemade dressing.
10 Healthy Snacks Learn label literacy skills and practice critical thinking to determine why some snacks may be healthier than others.
11 Healthy Snacks from Around the World Prepare simple healthy street snacks from around the world.
12 International Power Lunches Learn about what is served for lunch in school in other parts of the world and plan out a healthy power lunch.
13 Sustainable Food Geography Meal


Prepare an internationally inspired meal and share the meal together with family and friends if possible.
14 Closing Ceremony & Certificates + Post test Give out the post-test and celebrate the culmination of the program with certificates.