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Australian kids’ food knowledge is on the slide

Vanessa Croll, September 8, 2021 7:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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Jennifer Young and Lucy Young check out some different varieties of vegetables, including a beetroot and a leek. Picture: Adam Dormand media_cameraJennifer Young and Lucy Young check out some different varieties of vegetables, including a beetroot and a leek. Picture: Adam Dormand

humanities

Reading level: green

Australian children are becoming less aware of where the food on their plate comes from and many can’t identify common vegetables.

New research has found a 16 per cent decline over the past seven years in the number of children who know where foods such as broccoli, potatoes and ham come from.

The survey of more than 1000 children aged 6 to 14 also found 55 per cent had never visited a farm with plants and crops, and only half could recognise vegetables such as beetroot and leek.

media_cameraThe survey found most kids had never been to a farm where plants and crops were grown.

The survey, supported by a 2020 Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia study, was conducted by Woolworths in August. The supermarket giant released the survey findings as it also announced the return of its Fresh Food for Kids Discovery Tour program next year after it was put on hold due to Covid-19.

Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia chief executive Luciano Mesiti said the program was ”vitally* important” to bridging the growing gap in students’ agricultural* knowledge.

“Our research found more than 50 per cent of students had never visited a farm and had a limited sense of how they operated,” Mr Mesiti said.

“For nearly 60 per cent of students, they still lack that understanding of the supply chain* and where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

“Having knowledge of where food comes from allows people to make a decision about what they eat and how it impacts their health and wellbeing.”

They love watching all the animals graze media_cameraAustralian children are becoming less aware of where the food on their plate comes from as we come more focused on living in cities and suburbs.

Mr Mesiti said many factors had contributed to the decline in children’s knowledge about the origin of fresh food.

“Once upon a time in Australia, everyone seemed to know a relative who lived on a farm and visited during the school holidays,” he said.

“Nowadays there’s less of that connection, so we see less knowledge and understanding because of that disconnect* with where food is produced.

“We have become more of an urbanised* society and people are less likely to venture and to connect with those agricultural regions.”

Woolworths chief marketing officer Andrew Hicks said the new-look digital Kids Discovery Tour program aimed to educate more students, including those learning from home, about Aussie suppliers and growers, the food production process and the need to support a sustainable* future.

“Young Aussies can discover the importance of how their fresh food makes it into our stores, and helps them build a healthier relationship with fruits and vegetables,” Mr Hicks said.

GLOSSARY

  • vitally: in a way that is absolutely necessary or essential
  • agricultural: to do with farming, including the growing of crops and raising of animals for food
  • supply chain: each stage a good or services goes through to reach the person who buys it
  • disconnect: break in the connection or the link between things
  • urbanised: made more urban, that is having a lot of houses, offices, shops, factories etc
  • sustainable: able to be continued over time without running out

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Learning to love fruit and vegetables

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What level of decline has there been in the number of children who know where foods such as broccoli, potatoes and ham come from?
  2. What percentage of children had never visited a farm with plants and crops?
  3. Name one of the vegetables mentioned in the story that only half of children could recognise.
  4. What was the age range of the children who were surveyed?
  5. What is the name of the Woolworths education program about fresh food?

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Help Your Teachers
Imagine that you have been asked to help schools teach kids more about farming, the supply chain and healthy eating. Write at least five suggestions for activities that you think would help kids learn about these topics in fun and interesting ways.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Heath and Physical Education, Science

2. Extension
“Kids don’t need to learn about farms!” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Write a paragraph that will persuade someone else to agree with your opinion on this.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking, Health and Physical Education

VCOP ACTIVITY
Creative vocabulary
Find a bland sentence from the article to up-level. Can you add more detail and description? Can you replace any “said” words with more specific synonyms?

Have you outdone yourself and used some really great vocabulary throughout your writing? Firstly, well done. Secondly, let’s ensure everyone can understand it by adding a glossary of terms. Pick three of your wow words and create a glossary for each word to explain what it means.

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