Teaching Omnivore’s Dilemma

I spoke last year at this time how I was spreading the real food word in my classroom by teaching the YA version of Omnivore’s Dilemma. I got to do it again this year!!! I can’t even begin to express how exciting it is to me to come to work and teach my kids about Joel Salatin. It’s surreal, really (after 3 months of learning about the Holocaust it’s also a nice refresher).

Last year my school allowed me to get copies of the actual books (as opposed to copying just a few of the chapters like I did last year). Unlike last year, my kids were REALLY into the book and its message. They totally got into it and were absolutely repulsed by the realities of our current food system. They shared stories about their own families growing, raising or hunting their own food as I beamed with pride. They admitted to turning down fast food more than once during the unit, and I couldn’t help but smile.

The book is actually a NYS Common Core Module for 8th grade (which makes me SOOO happy) but I didn’t follow the module exactly how it’s played out (ain’t nobody got time for that). The integral message, objectives and standards of the modules still stuck, however, and the book presented students with four “food chains” to study.


Industrial Organic

Local Sustainable


In the end, they have to pick which food chain would best sustain America’s economy, environment, and the health of our people. Not an easy task! Each food chain has it’s pros and cons, however students had to analyze each one to determine if the pros outweighed the cons.

Teaching what is very near and dear to my heart was amazing fun. I used some work from the modules as well as some of my own ideas to make students excited. Some of my favorites are:

“Parody” advertisements for processed food.












Micheal Pollan would be proud










We also made flow chars illustrating the difference between the industrial food system and the local sustainable food system.




I love it!

We also watched Food Inc, a documentary on the industrial food system featuring the author Micheal Pollan and my idol, Joel Salatin. The students loved it and even though I was nervous about showing it because of some graphic images of animals on feed lots, there were no problems and I think it really enhanced their understanding of the book.


Lastly, students have to do a presentation on which food chain they feel would be the best for America. This hasn’t gone that smoothly….the software we are using has some issues and yesterday I felt like I wanted to pull my hair out. But…..we will get through it. Here are some of the presentations that have already been finished.

Industrial Organic Food Chain – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


Local Sustainable – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Local Food – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


I absolutely love teaching this topic! And it makes for a fun end of the year. I think the kids see that I am really passionate about it and they get into it. Plus I get to talk about my piggies and chickens and that amuses them!


Technology in the classroom can be a pain but I guess there are worse things…..

What do you think about learning about food in the English classroom?

Have you read Omnivore’s Dilemma?


4 thoughts on “Teaching Omnivore’s Dilemma

  1. Cindy

    I am teaching this book now to struggling readers. Do you have 5 favorite chapters?
    Thanks, Cindy Burton
    Milton, VT

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