Food and Environment

In Scotland, we have year-round access to nutritious, affordable food, produced both at home and imported from around the world. Most of us can name foods that are part of a healthy diet, but which of those foods are also good for environmental health locally and globally?

The resources below will get you started on exploring Food and the Environment:

Food and the Environment – Thinking About Food

This overview is designed to get pupils thinking differently about the food they eat.  Arranged in four sections on: what food is available, how is food grown or harvested, food wastes and, food culture, you can explore the sections and begin to discover how our food choices make a difference.

Download the Food and the Environment exercise for your class.

One Planet Picnic

A picnic that is good for the planet and good for you! It is an informal way to think about food and sustainability and an opportunity to celebrate local harvests, try new foods and reduce food waste.

Register your One Planet Picnic to enter the prize draw.

One Planet Picnic Pocket Garden

One Planet Picnic Pocket Garden is a competition that provides a great opportunity for pupils aged 3-18 to investigate our plant and food heritage, celebrate culture and develop creative design skills. A Pocket Garden is a pallet sized design including plants that can be eaten, that attract biodiversity and which reuse something which would otherwise have been thrown away.

Have a look at Our Pocket Garden Stories for inspiration and create your design.

Don't Waste Our Future

A joint European Manifesto of Young People and Local Authorities to promote Food Waste Reduction and the global Right to Food.  Jointly written by young people from across Europe including pupils from four Scottish secondary schools. Young people also produced food waste campaign materials which you can use in your own school.

Have a look at the Food Waste Reduction Charter.



Compass is a planning tool to support schools in their journey towards sustainability when developing their learning and teaching about food. It offers ideas and examples of action for sustainable development and blends areas of focus with features of learning. Compass allows users to create and download a personalised information pack.

Have a look at Compass for your own information pack.

Low Carbon Skills

These film resources have been made by pupils in schools across Scotland.  Through making these resources, the young people involved have developed key skills and knowledge that will help them in life and work, why it’s so important to know where products come from and why businesses are encouraged to operate more sustainably to lower their carbon footprint.  These films will perhaps encourage your pupils to take action and make better consumer and life-style choices.

Watch Low Carbon Skills films and download teaching resources

BBC Terrific Scientific - Taste Investigation

As part of the BBC science campaign Terrific Scientific, this Live Lesson will help your pupils to think and work like a scientist, with a focus on taste, nutrition, and the energy that food provides. The lesson is designed for 9-11 year olds and looks at the relationship between human taste and nutrition.

Take part in the BBC Terrific Scientific Taste Investigation

Climate Challenge Fund - Food

The Climate Challenge Fund supports projects involving food. These projects aim to reduce carbon emissions associated with food by encouraging the growing and consumption of local food.  CCF projects also work to reduce food waste in their communities as well as encouraging composting of unavoidable food waste.

Have a look at some examples or find a funded group in your community.

Garden For Life Resources

The Garden for Life Forum is a partnership of Scottish environmental organisations working together to increase enjoyment and understanding of wildlife in gardens. The forum has produced seven guides on gardening to get you started including one on food.

Download Garden for Life Resources.

Zero Waste Scotland - Food Waste Monitoring Toolkit for Schools

Toolkits for your catering team and for teachers and pupils. The catering team toolkit is for monitoring kitchen waste (preparation waste, spoilage and unserved meals). The teacher and pupil kit is for monitoring plate waste from the canteen.

Download the Food Waste toolkit and get food waste sorted.

World's Largest Lesson - Goal 1: Zero Hunger

World’s Largest Lesson introduces the Sustainable Development Goals to children and young people everywhere and unites them in action. Download lesson plans, comics and other resources on food to use in your classroom.

Download lesson plans on Goal 1.

Food Standards Scotland - Eatwell Guide

Use the Eatwell Guide to help you get a balance of healthier and more sustainable food.  It shows how much of what you eat overall should come from each food group.  Fresh, whole foods can be good for you and good for the planet too.

Visit the Eatwell Guide.

All About Food

“Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world”.  Martin Luther King, 1967

Although we eat food every day, many of us in Scotland are not aware of where that food has come from, how it was grown or harvested, what resources were used in its production or what wastes were produced. Eating food has almost been sidelined to a 'refuelling activity', squeezed into hectic lives. This change in our food culture has been accompanied by increasing pressures on the environment and the systems that help to sustain food production.

Global consumption of food, water and energy are rising and it is predicted that food production will have to increase by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s population. Producing sufficient food is not the whole story though. We need to produce food in a sustainable way that reduces dependence on finite resources and does not degrade the environment or reduce its productive capacity. This includes reducing the contribution of food production to climate change while already having to adapt production to the effects of climate change on food production here in Scotland and around the world.

Unequal access to food and the means to produce it are also part of the picture. In the world today there are 1 billion people who are hungry and another 1 billion who are obese. Food production has to make economic sense.  As consumers, we can seek to satisfy our values and moral preferences, as well as our favourite tastes, with every purchase. As learners we can re-discover our own local foods, develop food growing and cooking skills, and investigate the story of the food on our plate. 

Although there are 50,000 edible plant species around the world, just 3 crops, (rice, wheat and maize) provide 60% of global food. A further 12 crops provide another 30%. How many different foods have you eaten this week? Economic, social and environmental factors will affect what food is available to you wherever you are in the world.

The Eco-Schools objectives in this area cover physical, emotional and cognitive aspects. Motivation for sustainable living is gained through practical action, emotional engagement, and improved understanding:   

Hands – reconnect children and young people with raw foods and ingredients and their processes of production.

Heart – foster an appreciation of local distinctiveness and the intimate associations between place and food.

Head – develop awareness of the impacts on the environment of different methods of food production and processing.

Head : heart : hands – develop an awareness of the links between our food choices, the environment and people and places elsewhere.                                                                                     

Through work on the Food and the Environment Topic, pupils should:

  • Understand the range of food choices available to us.
  • Understand the resources and skills required for food production and processing.
  • Recognise the value of healthy, stable ecosystems to food production.
  • Understand the wider environmental implications of our food choices.
  • Recognise the dimension of social responsibility in our food choices.
  • Recognise our own food culture within a diversity of food cultures.

Food and the Environment Case Studies

Stirling High School

Pupils at Stirling High School overcame vandalism to grow a variety of crops in their polytunnel and raised beds, built with help and funding from local businesses and community members. Read more.

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