University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

Fresh from the World... Where Your Food Comes From

For Teachers

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Dear Educator,

Welcome to Fresh from the World... Where Your Food Comes From. This is for fourth and fifth graders but can certainly be adapted to other grade levels.

The program is interdisciplinary and designed to introduce students to the history of many of our favorite foods as well as their origins. This website will enhance student's math, science, geography, language arts, and social sciences skills.

You have many options for using this program. Choose any or all of the sections to use with your class. Many activities are for students to work independently and some are for group work. This lesson is well-suited for use in a computer lab as are all of our Schools Online programs.

We at University of Illinois Extension hope you enjoy teaching Fresh from the World... Where Your Food Comes From to your students.

If you complete the online request form, we will send you a poster for your classroom featuring several of the characters from this website.

And if you have a question, send it to us by clicking here.

We always look forward to hearing from teachers. Let us know if this site was useful to you and your students.

Click here to learn about our other websites on Schools Online.

Statewide Learning Goals for Late Elementary Students

  • Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society.
  • Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.
  • Read with understanding and fluency.
  • Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.
  • Demonstrate and apply knowledge and sense of numbers including numeration and operations, patterns, ratios, and proportions.
  • Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States, and other nations.

Systemwide Objectives

Biological and Physical Sciences

Students will:

  • Formulate questions on a specific science topic and choose the steps needed to answer the questions.
  • Construct charts and visualizations to display data.
  • Use data to produce reasonable explanations.

Language Arts

Students will:

  • Clarify word meaning using context clues and various resources.
  • Use information to form, refine questions, and make predictions.

Social Studies

  • Use maps and other geographic representatives to gather information about people, places, and environments.
  • Describe the relationship among the location of resources, population distribution and economic activities including transportation and trade.
  • Explain why people and countries exchange goods and services.
  • Identify and explain examples of competition in the economy?


  • Solve problems involving whole numbers, fractions and decimals using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Organize and display data using pictures, tables, and graphs.
  • Describe how businesses take risks to produce good and services.

Fine Arts

Students will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills to create visual works of art using eye-hand coordination, creativity, and imagination.

Teacher's Guide

Getting Ready

For young people, it is often a mystery as to how food is replenished at a market. Many may think food products' life starts in a grocery store, but many foods have a fascinating story and often a very interesting history.

Begin the unit by finding out what the students know.

  • Where are foods such as coffee, cocoa, pumpkins, oranges, and potatoes grown?
  • Do the foods we eat all come from our own country or are they grown in other parts of the world?
  • How long have foods been around? Are pineapples new in the last 100 years?
  • Have students ever been to a U-Pick farm or farmer's market to buy fresh food?
  • Who has gone to a community food festival? What food was being celebrated?
  • How is it possible to have a continuous almost seamless supply of fresh produce?
  • How have foods changed over time?


  1. Have a taste test activity. Have the students taste several different varieties of apples, oranges, or tropical fruits.
  2. Do a science activity about what promotes ripening in bananas. Buy the greenest bunch of bananas you can find. Have the class taste a green banana. Then put one banana in a sealed paper bag, lay one banana on the desk or counter; one banana in a sealed paper bag with an apple; and one in a sealed paper bag with an orange. Check the banana each day and note any color changes. When the banana turns completely yellow it should be at it's best. Keep track of the order of ripening for each banana.
  3. Research food festivals. Ask the students to share if they have attended a special food festival. Share what food was being celebrated and the features of the festival. Consider a class food festival. Make up activities and special events to highlight the food.
  4. In the coffee section we talk about the Bean Belt. Ask the students to plot on a map the Bean Belt - 1,000 miles on each side of the equator. What countries fall in this area? Where is the closest coffee production country to your school?
  5. Food Travelogue. Ask students to bring to class a food product with a product of origin label. How far did the product travel? What traveled the farthest? What had the shortest trip? Was anything grown locally?
  6. Try to grow some of the foods in this program. Try pumpkins, pineapple, tomatoes, popcorn, watermelon, carrots, and/or potatoes.
    For potatoes, one can cut up the tuber and have each piece contain an eye. Each eye will produce a plant. You can plant them in a bucket or plastic tub.
  7. Print out the Fresh from the World Crossword Puzzle.
  8. Look up nutrition facts on each food. Have the students debate the nutritional value of the foods they are learning about. Several foods have a history of helping prevent diseases such as scurvy. Research which ones.
  9. Talk about breakfasts around the world. Select a different country from yours and prepare that country's breakfast.


  1. Fresh from the World Quizzes. Here are 15 quizzes to use as follow-up to each section.
  2. Bring in a guest speaker to discuss food production, distribution and marketing. It might be a farmer or grower, a food wholesaler, or a grocery store manager or produce manager.
  3. Interview a grower - Questions might include:
    How big is your farm and what do you grow?
    1. How long does it take for this to grow?
    2. How do you harvest?
    3. How do you know when the crop is ready to pick?
  4. Compile a class cookbook of recipes using the foods in the website. Ask the students to submit their favorite recipes.


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