Lesson Plan

Food For Thought

map of Shoshone migration route
Shoshone-Bannock people travelled through the area on their annual migration for various food sources.


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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Fifth Grade
American Indian History and Culture, History
2 hours
National/State Standards:
Extension:  CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3


Students increase their awareness of food by studying their own diet and preparing and eating a Native American dish. (CLASSROOM ACTIVITY)


  • Students will be able to list some of the positive and negative attributes of modern food production.
  • Students will be able to prepare a simple Native American dish.


When we eat something, we are enjoying the fruits of photosynthesis. Every morsel of food we ingest was created by the sun, the Earth, water, and carbon dioxide. Each meal represents the beginning, growth, life, and death of plants and maybe animals. Seasonal weather variations can have drastic effects on this cycle, creating anxiety over the prospect of hunger. "Will there be enough to eat?" is a question that shaped human cultures and distribution worldwide.

Our relationship to food changed radically with the industrial revolution. Populations shifted from rural to urban, from food growing to food buying. The exploitation of abundant fossil energy (oil and coal) insulated us against hunger; if a crop failed at home, it could easily be imported from a thousand miles away.

Most Americans today do not know hunger. We expect grocery stores to provide a cornucopia of food year round. We have a feeble connection to preprocessed, canned, and boxed food grown on industrial farms by strangers in unknown places. Food that we ourselves didn't grow is more inclined to be wasted. Our relationship to food has grown as distant as the tropical fruits we import to North America.

While this century's food production practices have yielded advantages, they have also caused environmental perils. Pesticides make high crop yields and the ability to cheaply feed growing populations possible, but can have deleterious effects on wildlife, water, and people who eat the crop. Culinary diversity has increased with access to Central and South America, where hundreds of square miles of lowland tropical forests, among the most biologically diverse on Earth are being replaced by heavily crop-dusted banana plantations. Attractive, convenient packaging makes food preparation easier but adds to our waste disposal problems. Unlike most of the world, we can afford to eat meat as a staple rather than a delicacy, which contributes to American's high rate of hypertension and heart disease. Our high meat diet exacerbates the impact we have on the natural world by requiring more land be taken from wildlife and used for beef production. For example, millions of acres of tropical forests have been felled to produce cheap beef for American hamburger franchises. The land required to provide food for one meat-eating person could provide enough food for 20 vegetarians.

Our relationship to food and its distribution and processing has changed radically. Appreciating the positive and negative aspects of these changes can heighten our awareness of food, where it comes from, how it's produced, and how it connects us to the natural world. Despite changes during the last 100 years, the same sun and the same photosynthetic reaction that fed our ancestors feeds us.

We will be better Earth citizens if we are as conscious of our dependence upon nature as were our predecessors.

See "Additional Resources" below for more information on the history of Craters of the Moon.

From the Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon.


  • Honey
  • Water
  • Strawberries or raspberries
  • Unbleached flour
  • Baking powder
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 10-inch cast iron skillets
  • 2 to 4 mixing bowls
  • 2 to surfaces for kneading bread
  • 2 to 4 quart saucepan
  • 2 to 4 hot plates or burners




As a follow up activity, you could have the students:

  1. Write an Native American legend on how a certain food came to the Earth.
  2. Write an essay on how their diet would be different without petroleum.

Additional Resources

History of Craters of the Moon

Last updated: February 28, 2015