Teacher ideas: hot topics on food: health and the environment

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What you need

Access to the internet

Teaching focus

Raise health and environmental issues related to food, shopping, preparation and storage. Students find out about issues concerning food waste and the impact of its disposal on the environment, reflect on their own household and think of ways to address potential food issues.

What to do

Discuss the alternatives available to meet food needs such as local markets, home-grown food, delicatessens, online/home delivery, supermarkets, green/organic grocers, butchers, takeaway food and restaurants. Ask students to suggest reasons for the range of options.

Prompt students to think about the relationship between food, health and the environment by asking questions such as:

  • Why do you need to be careful about food storage?
  • Which foods do you buy that are easily spoilt? Why?
  • What are possible causes of food poisoning?
  • How does food have an impact on the environment?

List the issues that are related to health and those that are environmental. Some examples have been provided in the table.

Health issues Environmental issues
Spoilt food Wastage
Food poisoning Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation
Safe food handling, storage and preparation Importing foods out of season (transportation)
Disposal of food waste

Organise students into pairs or small groups. Outline the task of using the internet to identify relevant topics, in other words, the 'hottest topics' related to food in terms of storing foods correctly and environmental impact of food waste disposal.

Options for conducting their research include using:

  • a search engine and key words such as food, environment, health issues, shopping and waste
  • specific websites you have sourced, for example Foodwise website at www.foodwise.com.au or LivingGreener website at www.livinggreener.gov.au
  • information from relevant websites.

In their groups, students can share their ideas about possible hot food topics. From their research they choose one health and one environmental topic related to food.

Provide students with the activity sheet: Hot topics on food: health and the environment.

Each group reports back to the class providing their reasons why their two issues are hot topics.

  • Make a list of those topics that were most commonly chosen by the groups.
  • Discuss methods used to decide which issues were hot topics.
  • Encourage students to reflect on and discuss what they have learnt about the relationship between food, health and the environment.


Ask students to reflect on their own households and possible food issues, and how the issues could be addressed. For example, students may identify food wastage as an environmental issue, and then create a food plan to avoid and reduce food waste.


Student activity sheet: Hot topics on food: health and the environment (Word, 97 KB, pdf, 16 KB)