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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Linking Geography and Food

Asia, China
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Social Studies & Geography

Students will explore the ways that physical and human geography can contribute to the food culture of another world region.

 Begin by viewing Amy Throndsen's slide show, A Taste of Tongren, and discussing the central concepts using the accompanying lesson plan, What Can Food Tell Us About a Place?. In the slide show, Amy describes the cuisine of the Guizhou region of China. Using the slide show as a starting point, students will explore the ways that physical and human geography can contribute to the food culture of another world region.



Students will

  • give examples of how physical geography can influence food production
  • describe how the movement of people into a region can influence cuisine
  • explain the connection of a specific dish to the geography and culture of its region of origin 


  1.  Revisit the photos in the slide show, A Taste of Tongren. Have students make observations and inferences about Tongren's climate and geography. Suggested questions:
  2. What landforms do you see?
  3. Do you see any bodies of water or evidence of water?
  4. What foods are grown? What conditions do you think these foods need?
  5. How are people dressed? What does this suggest about the climate?
  6. Find Guizhou province and Tongren City on a map. Discuss:
    • What else do you notice about the region's topography and location (e.g ., latitude, proximity to water bodies, proximity to other countries and regions)?
    • How might these influence food production and consumption?
  7. Discuss how geography and climate can influence a region's food production and consumption. Give familiar food production examples (e.g., oranges in Florida; corn in the Midwest; grapes in California; lobster in New England) and have students brainstorm additional ideas. How do local climate and geography make the production of these foods possible?
  8. Explain that human factors, like the movement of people and the presence of distinct cultural groups, also play a role in regional cuisine. Consider the past and present immigrant groups in your region. Is there evidence of these cultures in your local cuisine? (e.g., types of foods families prepare; types of foods available in local supermarkets; types of restaurants in your community; types of foods students have tried before).
  9. Individually or in groups, have students research food production and cuisine in a selected country, world region, or U.S. region. Ask them to investigate:
    • How do geography and climate influence the types of foods that are produced?
    • How do the cultural backgrounds of the people influence local cuisine?
  10. Have students share their learning by preparing a dish from their chosen region. When presenting the dish, students should explain:
    • Which ingredients are produced in the region?
    • How do climate and geography make the production of these foods possible?
    • What are the origins and cultural significance of the dish?  

Frameworks & Standards

 Enduring Understandings
  • Where we live influences how we live.
  • Both physical and human factors shape a place and its practices.
Essential Questions
  • How does geography play a role in my daily life and in the lives of others?
  • How does the movement of people influence the culture of a place?
  • Geography
    • Essential Element II: Places and Regions
    • Essential Element III : Physical Systems
    • Essential Element IV: Human Systems
  • Social Studies
    • Thematic Strand I: Culture
    • Thematic Strand VII : Production, Distribution, and Consumption  
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