Food Issues Month – Share here!

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Welcome to Food Issues Month!

This is the one of the main areas where you can share your ideas, links, experiences or thoughts on the Global Issues SIG Food Issues Month.

It’s simple. Just leave a comment on this post with your contribution. We will be doing a weekly summary of these contributions, as well as the best stuff we got via our Facebook event page, or from Twitter.

To remind you, here are ways in which you can participate. Feel free to share any of them in our comments below!

1 Share an activity or lesson plan

Submit an activity or lesson plan idea. If it’s very long, please upload it somewhere else on the web and post the link and a brief description in the comment box below. One nice free tool for posting text online is pen.io

2 Inspire us to inspire our learners

Post a link to a picture, video, poem, game or website that links to one of these issues. Please state briefly what you would do with it.

3 Teach one of these issues and tell us about it!

Teach a lesson based on one of the resources you see shared during the month and let us all know how it went. We can all learn from each other in this way.

4 Share the knowledge

We’d love to see some short book reviews or film reviews about any of these issues that can inform us as educators. If you’ve read or seen something that inspired you about food, please let us know.

5 Do some action research.

Do some form of action research with your learners relating in some way to the topic. This could be a survey, some materials creation or something else. Share the results with us here!

6 Get creative

Make a real or virtual poster to link to the issue. We’d love to gather a collection of classroom-generated poster images for the website and do a feature on this on our website. You don’t need to restrict yourself to a static image, we’d love to see your own videos too (although please be aware we can’t show videos or photos of learners without permission here).

7 Take real action

Begin a food-related project at your school. This could be petitioning the school restaurant or cafeteria to include more healthy or more local food, begin a healthy eating campaign among younger learners, start or donate to a food bank, begin growing food… We’re sure you can think of other ideas. Please share with us how it goes.

8 Link up with another food-related non-profit organization

Make links between your class or school and a non-profit food organization. Invite a guest speaker, do a presentation, take the class on a field trip. Any of these links should ideally be done in the English language medium but it isn’t absolutely necessary. The report or follow up could be done in English if the organization does not have representatives that speak the language. Again, let us know how it goes and feel free to post any link to the project here. We’ll tell the world about it!

21 Responses to Food Issues Month – Share here!

  1. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 2, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Here an interesting interview with Rob Albritton about the food industry globally:
    http://www.socialistproject.ca/relay/relay29_albritton.pdf His book LET THEM EAT JUNK: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity (Arbeiter Ring Press 2009) provides an analysis of “how the profit fixation of capital has led us deeply into a dangerously unsustainable system of food provision, a system that totally fails when it comes to distributive justice and to human and environmental health” (p. 201). He looks at how the ‘deep structures’ of capitalism virtually everywhere structure, control and manage our agricultural and food systems, largely in irrational ways, and thus shape what we eat and its cost.

    Students, teachers all have eating habits that can be discussed, analyzed a bit. This book raises questions about how we form those habits in our heavily commercialized societies today. Part of that is eating far too much sugar, for example. Read the brief interview. Much worth pondering there.

    In some places, like where I live (post-communist southeastern Europe), there have been huge changes in the whole structure of food production and provision over the past 23 years, which was fundamentally non-profit and largely very low-cost, very high quality, much local prtoduce (subsidized in significant part by the state).

    Maria Todorova (2010: 6) relates a popular current Bulgarian joke about a woman who wakes up and runs about her house at night in panic, looking into the medicine cabinet, the refrigerator and then out the window into the street:

    Relieved, she returns to the bedroom. Her husband asks her, “What’s wrong with you?” “I had a terrible nightmare,” she says. “I dreamt that we could still afford to buy medicine, that the refrigerator was absolutely full, and that the streets were safe and clean. “How is that a nightmare?” the husband asks. The woman shakes her head, “I thought the communists were back in power.”

    _________________________

    Todorova, Maria. (2010). From Utopia to Propaganda and Back. In: Todorova, Maria and Gille, Zsuzsa (eds.), Post-Communist Nostalgia. (pp. 1-13). Oxford: Berghahn Books. (http://goo.gl/z4zs58).

  2. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    SIMPLER ENGLISH

    Here a report in simpler English on food prices: Poor Suffer as Food Prices Likely to Stay High VOA Special English Now called Learningenglish

    http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/poor-suffer-as-food-prices-likely-to-stay-high-132004763/112314.html

    If you go into http://learningenglish.voanews.com and search the huge archive for ‘food,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘obesity’, ‘gardening,’ and other related ‘food’ topics, you’ll get a number of articles. For example, 67 hits for ‘obesity.’ 195 matches for ‘hunger.’ ‘Water pollution’ yields 1,858 matches in the Special English archive, many are from the feature Environment Report. Lots of these articles have MP3, all are short, low intermediate.

    RELIGION AND FOOD
    Another engaging topic more generally is RELIGIOUSLY PROHIBITED FOODS.
    EAT MEAT, YES OR NO? The whole question of how students see being a vegetarian, or not eating certain kinds of meat or fish. In Judaism and Islam, many such prohibitions, what is halal or kasher, acceptable to eat, what not. Many of my students in Nepal were strict vegetarians. Including no eggs for some, and thus no ice cream, etc. Hindus very strict about most forms of meat. How do students see this, esp. in countries where there are religious guidelines widespread on what people should and shouldn’t eat?

    In the ancient pilgrimage city Mathura where I lived in northern India a long time, it is almost impossible to find any meat sold whatsoever.

    AND WHEN: this involves FASTING, how practiced in students’ families. All this is encompassed by a fascinating rubric RELIGION AND FOOD.

    ANIMALS THAT SHOULD NEVER BE EATEN, for whatever reasons. The recent ‘scandals’ regarding horse meat in Europe can be associated here: The ban on horse meat in many countries (or dog meat) is not religious, it is cultural.

    WHO BECOMES A FISHERMAN is also religiously structured in parts of India. Along the coasts, Christians and Muslims perhaps out in fishing boats, Hindus rarely, Jains maybe never.

    • David Royal October 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      I gave a presentation at the last TESOL conference on providing international students in the US with the language they need in order to make the food choices they want to make. All of the materials are available here:
      http://www.esletc.com/2013/03/21/tesol-2013-feeding-international-students-with-the-language-they-need/

      A lot of it is specific to students studying in an English speaking country, but some of it is relevant to all students. One of the areas I touched on was food and religion. In addition to the points that Bill raises above, this can get really complicated in terms of processed foods. For example, in the US we sometimes have pork in things like potato chips. Our students don’t expect this. They are often also unfamiliar with gelatin, which frequently comes from forbidden animals. For people teaching in English speaking countries, there are some great resources out there to help students understand labels. You can find my favorites at the link above.

      Also, what Bill says about fishing in India is similar to what I found in Tibetan areas of China. While most of the people that I met ate meat, they did not like to kill animals, and the butchers tended to be Han Chinese. This is a pretty high-level topic, but it could be interesting with advanced students to talk about these situations. Who is responsible for the death of the animal — the person who slits its throat or the consumer who creates the demand?

  3. David Royal October 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Here’s an idea for a lesson I’ve done using What the World Eats:
    http://www.esletc.com/2008/03/30/what-the-world-eats/

    I saw that someone on the FB page was using this as well. When I’ve used this, I use the free slideshow available at the Time Magazine website, but you could also do it with the book Hungry Planet, which the slideshow is based on. Each picture features a family posing alongside their weekly food. These pictures make great visual prompts to talk about a wide range of food issues. For example, it is immediately clear that families in wealthier countries eat a lot more packaged / branded foods, while families in poorer countries eat more whole foods. Another interesting thing to look at is the amount of meat consumed by the various families. In addition to showing the typical food consumed in a week, the slideshow also gives the average food budget.

    This activity would fit in well with a lesson looking at processed food, wealth distribution, or obesity.

  4. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 4, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Dave has many interesting points, excellent links.

    Orthodox Judaism in particular has often complex regulations about what you can put in your mouth. And what dishes or cups you can eat and drink from. These dietary laws are called Kashrut. An Orthodox Jew will not even drink coffee or water from a cup that is not kosher, which means in any non-kosher restaurant or non-Orthodox household where the utensils are not washed according to kashrut laws.. You can imagine how this complicates life in may places.

    Jewish kashrut law is quite fascinating but not worth too much discussion here. Beyond pork in some processed foods where you don’t expect it, and the problem of gelatin (possibly derived from horse muscle and sinew and forbidden), as Dave mentions, there are other headaches lurking for the Orthodox Jew. I’ll mention just one.

    RENNET is a complex of enzymes produced in any mammalian stomach, and is often used in the production of cheese, taken esp. from the stomachs of young calves. Such cheese is non-kosher for observant religious Orthodox Jews, because it mixes a ‘meat’ product with milk, which kashrut law prohibits. There are ways to get around this, with vegetable-derived substances for coagulation of the milk. Some ultra-Orthodox rabbinical traditions also rule that any such rennet used in making the cheese must be from a cow or calf stomach slaughtered by kosher guidelines, a ‘kosher calf,’ so that much cheese on the commercial market is unacceptable in the eyes of strict kashrut.

    BEWARE MSG: One big headache as a common additive in foods in Asia (and Asian restaurants everyhwere on the planet) is MSG, which many of us are allergic to.

    PERSONAL STORY: When I started working in Vientiane, my feet and legs began to swell, serious edema, and I had no idea what it could be. Something I was eating? Lao doctors were uncertain. One French doctor thought I may have contracted elephantisis [!] when I lived in India, dormant, he thought perhaps, for over two decades. I was really alarmed. The doctor was a big specialist in tropical medicine. I had tests done, inconclusive.

    The problem continued when I went on to teach in southern Thailand. One evening on campus, cooking for myself, I discovered, by chance, it was the high quantity of MSG I was consuming with packaged spicey Thai noodles (that I also ate in Vientiane). The food in Thai restaurants and the university cafeteria was also loaded with MSG.

    A warning sign I had before that is an interesting mini-tale. My swelling disappeared immediately during a three-week trip back to California, I was totally surprised. Why? I was really happy. It was gone! But when I flew back to Bangkok from San Francisco , by ChinaAir, by the time I got off the plane, lo and behold: my feet and legs were swelling again, excessively, sudden edema. I was baffled. At the time I thought: how can I get off a plane in Bangkok and my legs start swelling? Incredible. Some kind of curse. How does my body know I’m in Thailand? The heat? But the airport was cool, air-conditioned. My legs were turning elephant.

    Later I figured it out, that same evening while cooking in Thailand. Yes, you guessed it: the excellent food served on ChinaAir, spiced heavily with oodles of MSG, had triggered instant super-edema, within a matter of a few hours. Yet no doctor I consulted had even suspected this. WATCH OUT FOR MSG! It improves taste but …

  5. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 4, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    I might add about this additive: one of the first really essential phrases in Thai many foreigners learn coming to Thailand is “mai sai pong churot!” — don’t put MSG! This is a phrase I later used all the time I worked in Thailand, in every restaruarant. And when I went on to teach in Malaysia, I immediately learned how to say that in Bahasa Melayu — ‘minta tidak pakai ajinomoto’ — everytime I ate anything anywhere.

    Many of my students in Thailand told me they avoided MSG (pong churot) and were also allergic in different ways, not edema but other problems. Here a useful link with such phrases to use (for vegetarians, others) for avoiding certain foods and additives across a range of Asian countries: http://www.ivu.org/phrases/easia.html

  6. M. Iqbal October 7, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Hi All
    Many of the students in Pakistan use Pakora http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakora
    and Samosa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samosa in lunch which is the most bad food in Asia according to a study conducted in 2003. I think we should adopt the Dabbawala system in schools in Pakistan and other communities can also do so around the world. Do you know what is dabbawals?
    The concept of the dabbawala originated when India was under British rule. Many British people who came to the colony did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, although Indian businesspersons are the maincustomers for the dabbawalas, increasingly affluent families employ them instead for lunch delivery to their school-aged children. The service provided usually consists of delivery of home-made food, or sometimes food ordered from a restaurant, but sometimes it can include cooking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabbawala
    Here how system works: http://popupcity.net/culture/dabbawalla-hot-lunch-delivery-by-mumbais-fastest/ but I am very eager to know how English Literacy and Language works there in this system.
    Could you please share with me?
    Regards
    Iqbal

  7. Louise Guyett October 7, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Hi everyone,

    Here in my school in Dublin, we have a a series of study clubs every week. These are extra informal classes that last for 45mins to an hour. Last Friday, we dedicated the clubs to talking about food. We used a very simple lesson plan.
    On the SMART board, I put up some pictures and also the key issues that you suggested in one of the earlier posts, e.g. meat, GM foods, food scarcity etc. First the learners matched the pictures to issues in groups. They helped each other with meanings and also discussed the issues as they went along.
    Next, I asked each group to choose one of the issues and they then had to brainstorm the advatntages, disadvantages and possible solutions to the problems. Then, each group designed a poster to appeal to other students and to pass on a positive message.
    Finally, the groups chose a place in the school corridor to put up their posters.
    We had a great lesson and the enthusiasm was wonderful. What’s even better is seeing other students stop to read the posters.

    I’ll post some of the photos on the Facebook page.

    many thanks,

    Louise

  8. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Hi Louise,

    sounds great as a unit. An interesting separate question regarding vegetables and some fruit is the amount of organic phosphate fertilizer residue and other fertilziers as chemical residues that we eat without knowing it.

    Some are allergic to these fertilizer elements, some are dangerous if too high a concentration. I think I react, for example, to organic phosphorus in green peppers, maybe cabbage, such stuff.

    This an interesting question to explore with students because they know storie in their own families. Years ago, in Ireland and many other corners, there was far less such fertilizer (nitrogen compounds, for ex.) used, people were healthier in this respect. Also much produce was local crops, vegetables, not shipped from God knows where to your local market. This is the global industrialization of agribusiness.

    Older Bulgarians are convinced the food here was more wholesome, safe, tastier–and almost all locally produced–a few decades ago.

  9. M. Iqbal October 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Helen

    Many thanks for sharing the link. I am not so good at films however I have interest in songs. I will watch the film as it is on. I am sure it is fascinating and amazing.

    Regards

    Iqbal

    ——————————————————————————–
    To: gisig@yahoogroups.com
    From: helen@helenstrong.de
    Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 15:27:25 +0200
    Subject: Re: [gisig] Students’ Lunch in Pakistan

    An Indian film based around the dabbawala system (with a love story
    thrown in, of course) has received a lot of international critical
    acclaim since its release in India last month. It’s definitely on my
    list of films to watch once it comes to Germany:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lunchbox

    The languages in the film are English and Hindi so perhaps that would
    help to answer your question about how English works with this system,
    Iqbal.

    Happy viewing!

    Helen

  10. M. Iqbal October 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi
    I have been using lots of cucumbers as my daily breakfast for the past months because we (vti teachers) have a lesson in our teaching manual on the importance of vitamins. If your learners have vitamin c deficiencies, they may have to face the problem of Asthma a disease many children are suffering from particularly in poor economies. Here a study how vitamins c affect children? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23021626
    Also, here you can find food sources of vitamin C at the bottom of the page:
    http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/html/AppendixB.htm#appB9
    Regards
    Iqbal
    Pakistan

  11. Bill Templer (Shumen, Bulgaria) October 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    The question with cucumbers is what kind of fertilizers growers use. The organic N-P-K is common, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, in different ratios, such as 16-16-16 or some other combination. Growers know what they’re using.

    But some people are allergic to too much organic phosphate. Or to animal manure. Synthetic fertilizers with chemicals and various sprays used on cucumbers to protect from pests can also cause people problems. I wonder if anyone complains about side effects eating too many cucumbers where you are. Sometimes symptoms may be hard to identify, like trouble sleeping soundly, nervousness, such stuff.

  12. David Royal October 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    When I was teaching in Hawaii, another teacher and I did a Green Student Orientation aimed at familiarizing students with local environmental issues and resources.

    You can find the materials that we used for the Green Student Orientation here: http://www.esletc.com/greening-an-english-program-overview/greening-an-english-program-student-orientation/

    My favorite part of this was the creation of the local green directory, where we compiled information on local environmental resources. In terms of food, this included places where local / organic / bulk foods were available. This is an activity that could easily be adapted for any context — have students investigate their community to uncover where the most environmentally responsible food can be found. Once they put a directory together, they could share it with students in other classes, or with the wider community. The directory we put together in Hawaii also included things like transportation, shopping and waste disposal.

    For students coming to study in America, one of the issues that most concerned them was GMO foods. Many were shocked to learn that, not only are GMO foods legal in the US, they are also unlabelled. In processed foods in the US, ingredients like canola, soy and corn are almost always GMO. The only way to reliably buy processed foods without GMO ingredients (unless they are specifically labelled as non-GMO) is to buy organic. Many students were very surprised by this information, because in their countries, GMO foods are either illegal or very clearly labelled.

  13. Lizzie October 10, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    http://reflectiveteachingreflectivelearning.com/2013/10/10/low-level-teens-and-the-globai-sig-food-issues-month-some-more-materials/

    Here is a blog post about making and using materials inspired by this event, containing a link to the materials themselves.

    Enjoy and do let me know how you get on if you use them! :)

  14. Lindsay Clanfield October 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Just got this via Bill Templer, sorry it didn’t go through before…

    ONE BIG QUESTION IN GLOBAL ISSUES IS HOW TO USE RAP MATERIALS,

    FOR ANY ISSUE, IN CLASS. AS TEXT, MUSIC, VIDEO. ARE ANY ON THIS LIST DOING THAT? HAVE YOU EXPERIMENTED?

    RAP IS CONTROVERSIAL AND THERE IS ALL KINDS, INCLUDING GANGSTER RAP

    RAP HAS PLAYED A BIG ROLE IN THE RECENT INSURGENCIES IN THE ARAB WORLD. RADICAL PALESTINIAN RAP IN ISRAEL (DAM RAP) IS VERY HEAVY STUFF.

    A LOT OF RAP IS ABOUT FOODS, A TRADITIONAL TOPIC IN STATESIDE RAP SEE http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/food-rap

    I THINK WE COULD LOOK AT THE WHOLE QUESTION OF RAP – ITS TEXTS, MUSIC

    AND VIDEOS WITH DANCE AND MOTION – SOME OTHER TIME. GOOD TOPIC

    BUT HERE FOR FOOD FOCUS, A CLASSIC RAP WITH WAYNE BRADY:

    1. **YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT** (Wayne Brady) http://youtu.be/l4Ot0nU19AE

    This is a rap message song with simple lyrics, nice visuals, full of lyricism. Youngsters will like.

    2. HERE AN AMATEUR VERSION RAP CHORUS OF THE TEXT BELOW **YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT** WITH VERY YOUNG SCHOOLKIDS. QUITE CUTE http://youtu.be/abTTZOXd9F8

    PRIMARY STUDENTS COULD DO THIS AS A GROUP RAP OR SOME OTHER COMBINATION. A KIND OF PERFORMANCE IN CLASS . LEARNERS CAN OF COURSE WRITE AND PERFORM THEIR OWN LITTLE RAPS, MAYBE WRITE A GROUP MINI-TEXT. A NUMBER OF YOUR PUPILS REALLY LIKE RAP, IT’S PART OF THEIR **M-LIFE** (MUSIC LIFE) IN YOUNG PEOPLE’S AND YOUTH CULTURE THAT TEACHERS NEVER SEE.

    HERE THE TEXT for No. 2:

    HEALTHY FOOD RAP

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    Apples, oranges, bananas and pears,

    Are packed with vitamins for body repair cos…..

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    Meat, is neat

    Packed with protein and iron

    Builds up your muscles

    Makes you strong like a lion cos

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    Milk, yoghurt and cheese is yum,

    Builds up your bones with calcium cos

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    Cakes, and sweets,

    Are nice for a treat

    Don’t eat too much or

    You’ll feel the heat cos..

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    Rice, bread and pasta too,

    Are packed with carbs and

    Energy for you cos…

    You are what you eat,

    You eat what you are,

    If you eat the right stuff then you’ll go far

    (Julie Voyzey)

  15. Lindsay Clanfield October 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Here is an interesting piece written In defense of McDonalds that was submitted to the GISIG discussion list by Neil McBeath.

    You can download it here https://app.box.com/s/nscnx5hz3f3zze88k2a6

  16. M. Iqbal (Pakistan) October 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi all,

    Here a study revealing how fatty foods affect memory? I think it is an important point for learners how eating can lower down their work: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/fatty-foods-affect-memory-and-exercise/?_r=0

    Using too much sugar in food weakens the memory:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gerganakoleva/2012/05/17/binging-on-sugar-weakens-memory-ucla-study-shows/

    Regards

    Iqbal

  17. M. Iqbal (Pakistan) October 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America
    Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.
    U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted — not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food — worth $165 billion annually — gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who’s hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.

    http://www.nrdc.org/food/expiration-dates.asp

  18. M. Iqbal (Pakistan) October 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Hi all,

    Food and drink is a serious problem that affects the enrollment in Pakistani schools: http://dawn.com/news/1040894/out-of-school-children-sanitation

    According to the newspaper Jung more than 100 schools in Gujranwala http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gujranwala the city of wrestlers; provide vehemently contaminated water to children that cause serious diseases. (Jung p: 2 dated 7/9/13) but authorities deny the fact. Actually, they should check the water systems in educational institutions regularly during their visits.

    What do you think? What are the solutions?

    Regards

    Iqbal

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  1. Low-level Teens and the Global SIG Food Issues Month (Part 2) | Reflections of an English Language Teacher - October 15, 2013

    […] my first post about the Global SIG’s Food Issues Month, I described the background to my materials, some reflections on using them in the classroom with […]