Ending Food Waste -The Beauty behind “Ugly” Food

Hello everyone! I’m Chloe, an undergraduate student studying math and education who also works as an Educator and Project Support Coordinator on the Eden Hall K – 12 team. I have loved the opportunity that working for the K -12 program has given me to explore sustainability topics. Over the past year I have been able to both review and create lesson plans for the program on topics like soils, compost, geocaching, and solar thermal technologies. Most recently, I have been working on creating a new food waste and food products lesson plan to add to our field trip selection. We are very excited to be offering this dynamic and interactive lesson plan to future  students. Today I am writing to share with you  some of my excitement and experiences developing this lesson!


The Food Waste lesson has grade range options; K-3, 4-8, and 9-12, but my favorite lesson plan to design was the version for K – 3. I am studying to become a high school teacher, so I was going a little outside of my comfort zone at first, but I really enjoyed trying something new! I started off by doing some research on food waste and was reminded that there are many instances where perfectly edible food is thrown away or not sold at major grocery stores because it is deemed undesirable – either it is too small, too big, or bruised. After watching some documentaries about this issue I decided to create lesson based on it. Over all, the main goal of the lesson is designed to encourage students to recognize that food can look many different ways and inspires them to find ways to ensure that edible food isn’t wasted. The lesson begins by discussing food production and the hard work that is behind food by reading the book Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend you check it out if you have little ones and want to start a discussion about the importance of food!


The rest of the lesson is focused on the idea of creating art that captures the beauty of the “funny food” that might look a little different from the food you would see at a typical grocery store. We frame this by discussing different images related to body image and beauty campaigns, specifically ones that highlight positive characteristics of each person in a beautiful way. While at first it might seem silly to students, we create art that highlights food that might otherwise be wasted in a similarly beautiful way. We hope that these discussions present the opportunity for students to consider what beauty truly is, and to understand beauty in a way that differs from what society teaches us.


After designing this lesson, I soon became aware of how closely this correlates to the thesis of a past MSUS student Jess Canose. In her thesis, Jess explores similar ideas of beauty and ugliness in food by completing an “ugly produce photography” project. This was just one more interesting piece that connects my lesson to the Chatham community, which we strive to do as we integrate place-based learning into our programming. Depending on the grade level of students, they all create a different form of art or product to share. Students in grades K-3 draw a picture of some unique food, while students in grades 4-8 draw their own advertisement. Students in high school are asked to brainstorm a tweet, that we will later tweet on their behalf, that educates people on food waste problems. Regardless of grade, the essential message of the lesson stays the same. How do we define beauty, and how can this influence our own food waste?

Skip to toolbar