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Food Miles

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How Far Did Your Cookies Travel?

Emily Thurston, Clarkson University

Amber Henry, Ogdensburg School District 

July 2011


Type:  Project Module

Length:  3-5 45 minute class periods (depending in part on student’s familiarity with Google Earth)

Content Area/Course: Environmental Science, Geography and optional Cultural Studies and Nutrition

Targeted Grade Level:  6-8 Grades

Prerequisite Knowledge: Students must have a basic knowledge of greenhouse gasses, and how they relate to travel.   

Prerequisite Skills: Basic Internet Skills (using a search engine such as Google or Bing), Google Earth, MS Excel (older students)

Technology/web resources: MS PowerPoint, YouTube video, Google Earth, Internet, MS Excel (older students)

Thinking skill development:  Comprehension, and evaluation


Students explore the concept of food miles and how buying food from local producers will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into our atmosphere. Students explore local food options associated with baking their favorite cookies. Access to information about ingredients and where they are produced is provided through an interactive PowerPoint presentation. This information is used to calculate the number of miles the ingredients traveled to get to them before they could make cookies. Internet access is required to use Google Earth and calculate the miles traveled by the various food items. 

Encompassing Questions for Students:

How many miles did the ingredients in your cookie travel?

Can you make choices to reduce these food miles?