Agricultural literacy is the ability to understand the “relationship between agriculture and the environment, food, fibre, technology, and the economy.” It is closely tied with food literacy in its importance for understanding how food relates to health. Without an understanding of how food is grown and produced, it is harder to make informed decisions for healthy eating. However, this form of literacy does not only relate to food production.
“An agriculturally literate person understands how the agricultural industry works – not just where food comes from, but who grows it, agriculture’s effect on the economy, environment, technology, lifestyle and its relationship to livestock.” – American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
Nutrients for Life Foundation Canada has outlined four benefits of agricultural literacy:
- Understanding nutrition and food production. Understanding how soil provides nutrients for the plants, which then provide nutrition for humans and animals, is helpful when making healthy food choices.
- Knowing agriculture’s impact on the economy. Agricultural industries contribute over $100 billion to Canada’s annual economy. Understanding agriculture’s connection to our economy helps citizens make informed decisions.
- Recognizing the different careers available. Agricultural industries in Canada are major employers, including many highly paid and skilled jobs. Understanding the lifecycle of food will help to broaden career choices.
- Understanding environmental decision-making. Having an understanding of the environmental impact of farming, as well as the conservation efforts of farmers, will increase environmental awareness. By learning about conservation practices, individuals can also incorporate green initiatives into their home gardening or hobby farming.
Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month (CALM) takes place every March. It’s a wonderful time to focus your teaching on agricultural topics. Although the target audience is K-12 children, resources are also available for early childhood and adult age groups. In particular, the American Farm Bureau Foundation provides resources aimed at adults in their Pillars of Agricultural Literacy tool.
Learn more about the importance of agricultural literacy and ways to incorporate it into your teaching with the resources below.
Early Literacy Resources
- 35+ Farm Activities for Preschoolers
- Grow It, Try It, Like It! Fun with Fruits and Vegetables at Family Child Care (US)
School Age Resources
- BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation
- Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month (March) – see the resources at the bottom of the post.
- Farm to Cafeteria Canada
- Food and Literacy are a Good Combination
- Get growing! : activities for food and garden learning : a teacher resource for elementary and middle grades
- Let’s eat : sustainable food for a hungry planet
Adult Careers in Agriculture Resources
- Agriculture – Adult Literacy and Numeracy Resources
- ESL for agricultural workers: low beginner and upper beginner
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