Lesson 4: What is the Food Supply Chain?

Lesson 4: What is the Food Supply Chain?

Understanding Goals
• A food supply chain or food system refers to the processes that describe how food from a farm ends up on our tables. The processes include production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal.
• The food we eat reaches us via food supply chains through which food moves systematically in domino-like motion from producers to consumers while the money consumers pay for food goes to people who work at various stages along the food supply chain in the reverse direction.
• Every step of the supply chain requires human and/or natural resources.
• Because a food supply chain is domino-like, when one part of the food supply chain is affected, the whole food supply chain is affected, which is often manifested through changes in price.

Vocabulary: supply chain, production / producer, processing / processor, transport; retail / retailing, consumption / consumer, disposal, resources
Thematic Strands in Social Studies
• People, Places and Environment
• Production, Distribution and Consumption
• Global Connections

Background
Students will be formally introduced to the concept of a food supply chain or food system. Specifically, they will learn about domino causality and two‐way causality, and consider some of the “push” and “pull” factors involved in the movement of food and money through the supply chains through an in‐ class activity.
In the food supply chain, food moves from producer to consumer via the processes of production, processing, distribution, retailing and consumption; thus, food moves from farmer to consumer in a domino‐like fashion. At the same time, money that consumers pay for food moves from consumers to producers in the reverse process, again in a domino‐like fashion from consumer to retailer to distributor to processor to farmer. Thus, the two‐sided causality that connects farmers and consumers is mediated by these two sets of domino causalities (see Figure 1).