Sustainability of the US Food Supply Chain | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M4

Sustainability of the US Food Supply Chain

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The version of the Omnivore's Dilemma that EL Education referenced when writing the original module lessons (in 2013) is no longer available and has been replaced by the publisher with a redesigned paperback edition. This chart provides a lesson-by-lesson cross walk between the pagination in the original module lessons (based on the original paperback version of the text, (ISBN #9780803734159) and the pagination based on the new paperback edition (ISBN #9781101993835).

In this module, students analyze arguments and the evidence used to support arguments to determine whether sufficient evidence has been used and whether the evidence is relevant in support of the claim an author or speaker is making. They then research to gather evidence to make their own spoken and written arguments. Students will read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (930L), a literary non-fiction text about where food comes from and about making decisions about what food to buy and eat. They build background knowledge about what happens to food before it gets to the consumer, and the different choices the consumer can make when buying food while analyzing Michael Pollan's arguments and the evidence he uses to support his claims.

In Unit 2, students engage in a robust research project in which they further investigate the consequences of each of the food chains and the stakeholders affected in those food chains. To help students grapple with this issue, they use a decision-making process called "Stakeholder Consequences Decision-Making" (see the end of this document for details). This process will help students understand the implications of various choices, and will scaffold their ability to determine, based on evidence and their own values,  to take a position on which food chain they would choose if they were trying to feed everyone in the US. Students finish the module by writing a position paper explaining which of Michael Pollan's food chain they would choose to feed the US and why, and creating a poster stating their position. This task addresses NYSP12 ELA Standards RI.8.1, W.8.1, W.8.1a, W.8.1b, W.8.1c, W.8.1d, W.8.1e and W.8.9.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • Which of Michael Pollan's food supply chains would best feed the US?
  • How do we make decisions about what we eat?
  • What journey does food take before it gets to your plate?
  • Has the author or speaker used sufficient relevant evidence and sound reasoning to support his or her claim?
  • The food we buy comes to us from various different routes and processes. We can make more informed decisions about what food to buy when we understand those processes and the stakeholders affected by the food choices we make.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about the Second Sudanese Civil War. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework.

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

  • Theme 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: The relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments); impact of human activities on the environment; interactions between regions, locations, places, people, and environments.
  • Theme 9: Science, Technology, and Innovation: Applications of science and innovations in transportation, communication, military technology, navigation, agriculture and industrialization.  

Social Studies Practices, Geographic Reasoning, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 2: Describe the relationships between people and environments and the connections between people and places (page 58).
  • Descriptor 3: Identify, analyze, and evaluate the relationship between the environment and human activities, how the physical environment is modified by human activities, and how human activities are also influenced by Earth's physical features and processes.

Social Studies Practices, Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 1: Define and frame questions about events and the world in which we live and use evidence to answer these questions.
  • Descriptor 2: Identify, describe, and evaluate evidence about events from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, photographs, charts and graphs, artifacts, oral traditions, and other primary and secondary sources).
  • Descriptor 4: Describe and analyze arguments of others.
  • Descriptor 6: Recognize an argument and identify evidence that supports the argument; examine arguments related to a specific social studies topic from multiple perspectives; deconstruct arguments, recognizing the perspective of the argument and identifying evidence used to support that perspective.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat, Young Readers Edition
by Michael Pollan
One per student
ISBN: 9781101993835


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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