National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Culinary Concepts

Grade Level(s)

6 - 8

Estimated Time

Ten 45-minute class periods


Through project-based learning, students will develop and manufacture a unique and nutritious food product that includes ingredients that have been sourced locally and can be served in retail outlets or the school cafeteria.


Milestone 1: Entry Event

Milestone 2: Planning and Design

  • Team notebooks

Milestone 3: Development and Prototype

  • Various local ingredients depending on the project solutions
  • Kitchen staples such as sugar, oil, baking soda, and baking powder
  • Kitchen for the creation and testing of food products
  • Team notebooks
  • Solution/Product Rubric

Milestone 4: Production and Final Product Presentation

  • Team notebooks
  • Various local ingredients depending on the project solutions 
  • Kitchen staples such as sugar, oil, baking soda, and baking powder
  • Kitchen for the creation of food products
  • Presentation Rubric

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)


carbon footprint: a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by a single endeavor or by a company, household, or individual through day-to-day activities over a given period

comparative advantage: an economic theory about the potential gains from trade for individuals, firms, or nations that arise from differences in their endowed resources (e.g., climate, geography, and/or technological progress). In an economic model, an agent has a comparative advantage over another in producing a particular good if they can produce that good at a lower relative opportunity cost as a result of their endowed resources.

economy: a way to make a living; how people produce, sell, and buy whole goods and services

food miles: the distance food has traveled from where it is grown to where it is eaten

fossil fuel: a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms

local food: the direct or intermediated marketing of food to consumers that is produced and distributed in a limited geographic area

locavore: a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food

Background Agricultural Connections

Culinary Concepts is a Project-Based Learning (PBL) plan. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.1 A quality PBL experience requires seven essential elements.

  1. Challenging Problem or Question: The project is framed by a meaningful problem to be solved or a question to answer at the appropriate level of challenge.
  2. Sustained Inquiry: Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of posing questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  3. Authenticity: The project involves real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact, or the project speaks to personal concerns, interests, and issues in the students' lives.
  4. Voice and Choice: Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  5. Reflection: Students and teachers reflect on the learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, the obstacles that arise and strategies for overcoming them.
  6. Critique and Revision: Students give, receive, and apply feedback to improve their process and products.
  7. Public Product: Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying, and/or presenting it to audiences beyond the classroom.2

Buying Local

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines local food as the direct or intermediated marketing of food to consumers that is produced and distributed in a limited geographic area.3 Local food is commonly considered to be food grown within 100 miles of its point of sale or consumption. A locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. Buying food from local farms and businesses is good for communities, the economy, and the environment. Purchasing locally grown food lowers the consumer's carbon footprint, ensures freshness, and benefits the local economy.

Most food in the United States is shipped an average of 1,500 miles before being sold.4 While comparative advantage needs to be considered, these distances substantially increase when considering food imported from other countries. Reducing food miles lessens the environmental impact of food by cutting back on air pollution and fossil fuel consumption.

Typically, produce in the US is picked 4-7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves. Locally sold produce can be harvested at its peak ripeness and reaches the consumer faster and at a fresher stage. In addition, because local produce is fresh, there is less waste. When produce is shipped long distances, the amount of food lost to spoilage increases.

When consumers buy local, more of their money stays in their community. The choice to buy local food affects not only the farmer that grows the food, but also the trucking company that ships the products, the store that sells the product, and the state and city governments that operate on taxes from the businesses that are supported by the manufacturing of the products. Every dollar spent to purchase locally produced products adds four times more to the local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain retailer.5

Local foods can be found at farmers' markets, restaurants, community supported agricultural programs (CSAs), food co-ops, food hubs, food stores, and online. Due to consumer demand, more and more grocery stores and restaurants are highlighting locally grown food. Below is a list of state programs that promote local foods:

In this project-based learning activity, students will develop a unique retail food product that includes ingredients (51%) that have been sourced locally to create a new company. Student teams will need to design a product that could be created with locally-grown products. The resulting food product could be sold in retail outlets and/or be served in school cafeterias. Students will work through the problem to select a product they think will be successful (based on the demand, sales, profit) and will need to work with the following ingredients: wheat/flour, honey, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and seasonings (this list can be customized to the school's specific location). Several possible recipes with the ingredients noted above can be found on this Pinterest Board


Career Highlights
This PBL plan introduces students to the following career opportunities: food scientist and technologist, dietitian and nutritionist, baker, food batchmakeraccountant, marketing specialist, graphic designergeneral and operations managerretail salesperson, customer service representative, advertising and promotions manager, advertising sales agentsecretary and administration assistant, computer programmer, computer network support specialist. Explore the career profiles to discover job outlooks, education requirements, and average salaries.


Interest Approach – Engagement

At the beginning of the project, students are introduced to key content using a compelling situation that provides context and serves as a catalyst for an authentic problem or challenge. In Project-Based Learning (PBL), this authentic problem/challenge is referred to as an "Entry Event." Students use the Entry Event to initiate inquiry by reflecting on their prior knowledge of the key content, generating questions that they need to know the answers to in order to successfully complete the project or process that will solve the problem, and identifying what their next steps might be to answer their questions. These questions are used in an ongoing way throughout the project to track learning and guide inquiry.6 While students may have several questions, one driving question needs to be agreed upon that, when answered, should address the initial solution. Refer to Milestone 1 for Entry Event procedures.


In PBL, projects are organized into milestones. Each milestone represents a significant stage of the project. Click on each milestone below to access instructional procedures.

Milestone 1: Entry Event (approximately 2 days)

Milestone 2: Planning and Design (approximately 1 day)

Milestone 3: Development and Prototype (approximately 3 days)

Milestone 4: Production and Final Product Presentation (approximately 3 days)

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

As a final wrap-up, review and summarize the following key points:

  • Local food is commonly considered to be food grown within 100 miles of its point of sale or consumption.
  • Buying food from local farms and businesses in good for communities, the economy, and the environment.
  • Local foods can be found at farmers' markets, restaurants, community supported agricultural programs (CSAs), food co-ops, food hubs, food stores, and online.

We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!


Enriching Activities

  • If you live in the following states, refer to the following "home grown" specific lesson plans and resources for middle school:

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Agriculture and the Environment

  • Discuss the comparative environmental pros and cons of populations relying on their local and regional resources versus tapping into a global marketplace (T1.6-8.e)
  • Recognize how climate and natural resources determine the types of crops and livestock that can be grown and raised for consumption (T1.6-8.g)

Culture, Society, Economy & Geography

  • Consider the economic value of agriculture in America. (T5.6-8.a)
  • Distinguish between careers in production (farmers and ranchers) with those that directly involve consumers (business and nutrition) (T5.6-8.b)

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Explain how factors, such as culture, convenience, access, and marketing affect food choices locally, regionally and globally (T3.6-8.d)
  • Identify agricultural products (foods) that provide valuable nutrients for a balanced diet (T3.6-8.g)
  • Identify sources of agricultural products that provide food, fuel, clothing, shelter, medical, and other non-food products for their community, state, and/or nation (T3.6-8.i)
  • Identify the careers in food production, processing, and nutrition that are essential for a healthy food supply (T3.6-8.j)

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

  • Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)

Education Content Standards


Agribusiness Systems Career Pathway

  • ABS.01.02
    Read, interpret, evaluate and write statements of purpose to guide business goals, objectives and resource allocation.
  • ABS.01.03
    Devise and apply management skills to organize and run an AFNR business in an efficient, legal and ethical manner.
  • ABS.04.01
    Analyze characteristics and planning requirements associated with developing business plans for different types of AFNR businesses.
  • ABS.05.03
    Assess marketing principles and develop marketing plans to accomplish AFNR business objectives.

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Cluster Skills

  • CS.01.01
    Research, examine and discuss issues and trends that impact AFNR systems on local, state, national, and global levels.
  • CS.05.02
    Examine and choose career opportunities that are matched to personal skills, talents, and career goals in an AFNR pathway of interest.

Career Ready Practices

  • CRP.10.1
    Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
  • CRP.10.2
    Examine career advancement requirements (e.g., education, certification, training, etc.) and create goals for continuous growth in a chosen career.
  • CRP.10.4
    Identify, prepare, update and improve the tools and skills necessary to pursue a chosen career path.

Food Products and Processing Systems Career Pathway

  • FPP.02.01
    Apply principles of nutrition and biology to develop food products that provide a safe, wholesome and nutritious food supply for local and global food systems.
  • FPP.02.03
    Apply principles of human behavior to develop food products to provide a safe, wholesome and nutritious food supply for local and global food systems.


Economics Standard 14: Entrepreneurship

  • Objective
    Identify the risks and potential returns to entrepreneurship, as well as the skills necessary to engage in it. Understand the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation to economic growth, and how public policies affect incentives for and, consequently, the success of entrepreneurship in the United States.

Economics Standard 2: Decision Making

  • Objective
    Make effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.

Common Core Connections

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

    Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


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