Homegrown in Your State: Fruits and Vegetables
Students explore their state's specialty crops, discover how food gets from the farm to the table, and discuss the importance of eating fruits and vegetables every day. Grades K-2
- MyPlate Activity Poster (Available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com) or MyPlate Image
- Where Do Fruits and Vegetables Come From? video
Activity 1: From Farm to Lunch
- State Agricultural Facts
- How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth
- Follow That Food - Carrot Edition
Activity 2: What Am I?
- What Am I? Cards, 1 set printed and cut into cards
- Pocket chart (optional)
climate: the prevailing weather conditions in a specific area over a long period of time
consumer: a person who buys and uses goods and services
cultivate: to prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops; to plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labor or skill
floriculture: the cultivation of flowers
fruit: the part of a plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds of the plant
horticulture: the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants
specialty crop: fruits, tree nuts, vegetables, herbs, spices, nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops that are not considered staple foods.
vegetable: any edible part of a plant that does not contain seeds
Background Agricultural Connections
One US farmer produces enough food to feed 172 people worldwide, but farmers are not the only workers involved in making food available to the consumer.1 Agriculture, food, and related industries employ 21.6 million American workers.2 These jobs include harvesting, storing, transporting, processing, packaging, and selling the food we eat. Farms are the source of almost all the food we consume.
In most cases, some, but not all, of the foods people eat are grown in their state. While most states produce their own milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains, the availability of certain foods depends upon season. The climate and soil of a particular region determines the types of foods that can be grown. Consumer demands influence the items that stores and restaurants offer. Many people want to be able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the middle of the winter or out of season. Grocery stores meet these demands by having food transported from other regions of the United States and even from other countries.
Specialty crops are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture, that are cultivated or managed and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification.3 Local specialty crops can be found at grocery stores, food co-ops, farmers' markets, and plant and garden centers. Below is a list of state programs that promote local foods:
- Buy Alabama's Best
- Alaska Grown
- Arizona Grown
- Arkansas Grown
- CA (California) Grown
- Colorado Proud
- CT (Connecticut) Grown
- Delaware Grown
- Fresh From Florida
- Georgia Grown
- Hawai'i Seals of Quality
- Idaho Preferred
- Illinois Buy Fresh Buy Local
- Indiana Grown
- Choose Iowa
- From the Land of Kansas
- Kentucky Proud
- Louisiana Grown. Real. Fresh.
- Get Real. Get Maine.
- Maryland's Best
- Massachusetts Grown...and Fresher!
- Pure Michigan
- Minnesota Grown
- Genuine MS (Mississippi) Grown
- Made in Montana
- Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska
- Made in Nevada
- New Hampshire Made
- (New Jersey) Jersey Fresh
- (New Mexico) Taste the Tradition
- New York State Grown and Certified
- Got to Be NC (North Carolina)
- Pride of North Dakota
- Ohio Proud
- Made in Oklahoma
- Buy Oregon Agriculture
- PA (Pennsylvania) Preferred
- Get Fresh Buy Local (Rhode Island)
- Certified South Carolina Grown
- South Dakota Local Foods Directory
- Pick Tennessee Products
- Go Texan
- Utah's Own
- Dig in Vermont
- Virginia Grown and Virginia's Finest
- Washington Grown
- West Virginia Grown
- Something Special from Wisconsin
- Grown in Wyoming
The activities in this lesson will promote a natural curiosity about how food affects health while reinforcing food and agriculture as a connection to a better quality of life. Understanding what it takes to promote food will help students make the association between the land, farmers and ranchers, and the grocery store.
- Hang up the MyPlate Poster or project the MyPlate Image onto a large screen. Ask the students, "How much of your plate should hold fruits and vegetables?" (Half)
- Ask the students, "Why are fruits and vegetables important?" (Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help make our bodies strong and keep us healthy.)
- Show the class the Where Do Fruits and Vegetables Come From? video to help introduce the topic of fruits and vegetables.
- Explain to the students that they are going to explore specific fruits and vegetables, called specialty crops, that are grown in their state. Specialty crops are crops grown and used by people for food, medicine, or decorations. Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, herbs, and flowers are all examples of specialty crops.
Explore and Explain
Activity 1: From Farm to Lunch
- Ask the students to raise their hands if they have a garden or have helped in a garden. Ask, "What did you grow in the garden?"
- Explain to the students that not all fruits and vegetables can be grown in their state.
- Have the class brainstorm fruits and vegetables that they are familiar with. Point out what kind of climate each grow in. For example, bananas grow in a warm, frost-free climate.
- Pull out a world map or globe. Point to where your state is located and talk about what fruits and vegetable can best be grown in the state. Use the website for your state found in the Background Agricultural Connections section of this lesson for ideas. In addition, visit the State Agricultural Facts webpage and click on your state for more information about your state's agricultural resources.
- Ask the students, "How do fruits and vegetables get to our cafeteria or in your lunchbox?"
- Read the book How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth and watch the video Follow That Food - Carrot Edition.
- Discuss the steps it takes to get food from the farm to your lunch:
Activity 2: What Am I?
- Optional: Prior to this activity, create additional What Am I? Cards specific to fruit and vegetable specialty crops grown in your state. Use the website for your state found in the Background Agricultural Connections section of this lesson and the State Agricultural Facts webpage for ideas.
- Discuss the differences between a fruit and a vegetable. Emphasize that a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds of the plant. A vegetable is any edible part of the plant—root, stem, leaf, or flower—that does not contain seeds.
- Read the clue on each What Am I? Card aloud to the class. Have the students determine whether the food on the card is a fruit or a vegetable and whether or not it is grown in your state. Sort the cards in a pocket chart or on the floor.
|This lesson explores foundational concepts about how climate and geography impact the production of our food and the location of farms throughout the United States and abroad. If you teach in the following states, refer to your local agricultural literacy geography resources:|
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Specialty crops are grown and used by people for food, medicine, or decoration. Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, herbs, and flowers are all examples of specialty crops.
- Before fruits and vegetables arrive in the grocery store, plants are planted and grown, and the food must be harvested, transported, processed, and packaged.
- It is recommended that you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
- Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help make our bodies strong and keep us healthy.
"What Am I?" game adapted from pbhfoundation.org.
Recommended Companion Resources
- A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food
- Dig In! Posters
- Eating the Alphabet
- Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers' Market
- Fruit Bowl
- How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?
- How Does it Grow? Video Series
- How Food gets from Farms to Store Shelves
- MyPlate Activity Poster
- Plant Part Chart
- The Fruits We Eat
- The Life of a Potato
- Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat
- What is a Fruit? What is a Vegetable? Bulletin Boards
- Who Grew My Soup?