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6 Farm-to-Table Lesson Plan Ideas for High School Culinary Arts

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Farm-to-table or farm-to-fork meals that source local foods have become very popular in the last 10 years. In 1971, chef Alice Walters opened the first farm-to-table restaurant called Chez Panisse in California. It grew in popularity and now there are similar restaurants in every major city across the country. Do you have a favorite farm-to-fork or slow-food restaurant near you?

Farm-to-table, farm-to-fork, or farm-to-plate, is a movement that emphasizes the direct relationship between farmers and consumers. It prioritizes locally-sourced, fresh, and seasonal ingredients as well as emphasizes sustainable and ethical practices in food production and consumption.

1- WebQuest on Slow Food Restaurants– In a lesson plan I recently developed, students, use this website to answer Webquest questions about meals and restaurants that use slow food concepts. These are real restaurants across the country with links to their menus. It is a great way to introduce your students to farm-to-fork ingredients and menu options.

2- Show a Video- There are videos about farm-to-table from stories of chefs that use this philosophy and videos about the science of sustainability. Here is a PBS episode about farm-to-fork and locally sourced foods. It is about 40 minutes and students can complete a generic video question worksheet and make a great sub plan. The one linked below shows how a chef brings locally sourced ingredients to educate students about farm-to-table and healthy eating.

3- Farm to Table Recipes for the Classroom– recipes like a Caprese salad or Ratatouille are great locally sourced recipe options when the crops are in season. Here is an easy Caprese salad recipe if you can get your hands on tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Another option is a soup such as minestrone with locally sourced vegetables. Find out what is available near you and create a recipe with what you have! Even if you had to make one portion, it is still educational for your students.

farm to table recipes

4- FoodSpan Sustainability Lesson Plans This website by Johns Hopkins University, has Agriculture tech CTE teaching resources including presentations and basic worksheets. It covers a wide variety of topics including seafood sustainability and farming problems. They have a variety of farming lesson plans that would suit middle school and high school students.

5- Organize a Local Farm Visit– Plan a field trip to a local farm or farm stand to allow students to see how food is produced and learn about the importance of sustainable and ethical farming practices. You can purchase produce directly from the stand and have students create recipes and a menu plan with what is available. If you don’t have the budget for that, students can create a recipe and menu plan without executing the cooking!

6- Research a Local Restaurant– Have students find a local slow food or farm-to-table restaurant and have them research how it began, where they source their food from, and its history. They may also practice other sustainable sources of energy and more. You can even go as far as to ask to interview the owner or chef and have questions prepared by the students to ask. This not only gives them real-world experience but allows them to explore a local restaurant option that offers healthy, local foods.

We have a local restaurant here that is not completely farm-to-table partially because we live in the Northeast but the chef offers weekly farm-to-table options. You could even interview someone like that and ask questions about how they acquire the local produce and more information about their long-term plan.

More Agriculture Lesson Plan Ideas

Check out this blog post that includes other Ag tech lesson plans including a full sustainability lesson and more!

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