Footprint Futures

Footprint Futures
The key stage 2 and 3 eco-footprint teaching resource from the Centre for Alternative Technology
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Module 5: Food

Pupils will discover that a low footprint diet is generally a healthy one. They will learn basic factors behind why the footprint of food is so large and be able to apply them should they wish, when shopping, cooking and choosing food. They will begin to understand the history and potential of food production in their region.

  • Food accounts for a significant portion of our footprint
  • At least half of this is due to agriculture:
  • Nitrogen based fertilisers are made from gas and their manufacture releases CO2
  • When nitrogen based fertilisers are applied to the ground, not all of the nitrogen is absorbed by plants. Nitrogen that isn’t taken up is released in the form of nitrous oxide which is nearly 300 times stronger than CO2 as a greenhouse gas
  • Methane emissions from some livestock farting and belching are also significant – methane is 23 times stronger than CO2 as a greenhouse gas
  • Meat and dairy production uses a lot of land because animals need to eat too – they are very inefficient at turning their food into meat.
  • A lot of the rainforest is cut down either for cattle ranching for beef export, or to grow soya beans to feed European dairy cattle. Grazing land is often fertlised with nitrogen fertilizer, resulting in nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Packaging, processing and refrigeration also have significant emissions
  • Transport has less impact than people usually expect compared to the other sectors. Air freight uses about 50 times more fuel than ship freight for an equivalent distance. Most of the international transport of food is done by ship.
  • Eating less meat and dairy, and less processed and packaged food with more fresh and local food can reduce our footprint significantly
  • A low footprint diet is also (generally speaking) a healthy diet
  • Sheep farming in Wales is relatively recent. In the past, more varieties of grains, oat, wheat and other fruit and vegetables were also produced in Wales, and pigs were more commonly found.
  • Thinking, to work out impacts
  • Sequencing, using cards to trace manufacturing process
  • Interviewing, listening, debating
  • Presenting their work
You will need
You are encouraged to acquire additional resources and materials to make the project relevant to your school. These are described in each activity and also listed here:

1. Shopping Basket Challenge

  • Three shopping baskets one labeled with a small footprint, one labeled with a medium footprint, and one labeled with a large footprint.
  • Lots of empty food packets, or real food, and/or pictures or models of food, that represent high, medium, and low footprint diets.
  • A shopping trolley or a big cardboard box

3. Cake Comparisons

4. What’s in your lunchbox?

6. Guest Interview

  • A local guest from the sustainable food sector, they could be a shop keeper, a chef, or a farmer for example

7. Regional Plan - Food

  • You could invite the person they interviewed to help with this activity
  • Maps and aerial floor photo mats if you have them
  • Variety of media for recording

Shopping Basket Challenge Shopping Basket Challenge
This warm up active team game involves pupils running to sort food packaging into low footprint and high footprint shopping baskets. View >>
Food Footprints Food Footprints
This slide show demonstrates the sustainability issues behind much of the food we produce and consume in the UK. View >>
Cake Comparisons Cake Comparisons
This is a whole class activity in which the pupils compare a processed packaged cake and a freshly baked one to investigate the footprint of the cake. View >>
What’s in your lunchbox? What’s in your lunchbox?
This is an interactive class activity which uses a slide show and resource cards to investigate the sustainability of the contents of a lunchbox. The activity can be divided into two parts. View >>
Sustainable Food Sustainable Food
This slide show demonstrates some sustainable food and agriculture options. View >>
Guest Interview Guest Interview
A visitor from the food industry is invited to the class to be interviewed by pupils. View >>
Regional Plan - Food Regional Plan - Food
The pupils use what they have learned to design a regional sustainable plan for food production. View >>
Report Report
An opportunity for pupils to work in groups or as individuals to report on the days activities. View >>


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