The Grain Chain

Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

World Environment Day: Sunday 5 June 2011

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Welcome to your quick guide to celebrating World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June, 2011.

This year, WED supports the UN’s International Year of Forests with the theme, Forests: Nature at Your Service, which underscores the many essential life-sustaining values that forests provide and the intrinsic link between our quality of life and the health of forest ecosystems.

For all seven billion of us, our present and our future depend on conserving and restoring the world’s forests. On WED, why not resolve to do more to ensure that we continue to enjoy the important services that forests provide, in our generation and the next.

On the site you will find a section aimed at 14-16 year olds, but which can be adapted for other ages, focusing on all aspects of wheat farming including sustainable development, the use of pesticides and a case study of a real life farm.  Also relevant is a podcast on ‘food and values’ which investigates factors influencing consumers in the food choices they make.

Eating breakfast helps weight maintenance

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

An article published in Obesity journal found that eating breakfast reduces food cravings, while those that skip breakfast can end up snacking and overeating, especially at night.

Currently it is thought that as many as six out of 10 adolescents skip breakfast; so researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a three-week study of a group of teenagers who usually skip breakfast.  One group continued to miss breakfast while the other group now consumed a 500-calorie breakfast containing cereal and milk.  At the end of each week volunteers completed a questionnaire and underwent a brain scan. 

Finding show that those who ate breakfast felt fuller and less hungry throughout the day than breakfast skippers.  Brain scans show that breakfast eaters experienced less activity in the areas responsible for controlling food motivation and reward. has several related resources for various age groups.  For 7-11 and 11-14 year olds we have complete sections on balancing energy input with energy output which also includes a section to design ones own breakfast.

Breakfast Blog

Friday, January 21st, 2011

As bright sunny days smile down upon us it is difficult to believe that just a few weeks ago the footpaths and hills were covered in a white snowy blanket.  Or that it is indeed still January; the month of new beginnings, new resolutions and usually gloomy grey weather.  But onwards and upwards, what does the rest of January have to offer us …


Farmhouse Breakfast Week: Sunday 23 – Saturday 29 January 2011

20110121 ShakeupyourwakeupOnce again January plays host to Farmhouse Breakfast Week – an annual campaign run by HGCA and now in its 12th year.  The aims are to raise awareness of the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast; and demonstrate the variety on offer.

With one in four people regularly skipping breakfast, HGCA are challenging the nation to Shake Up Their Wake Up!

Everyone can get involved in the celebrations…

- Hold an event

- Try a quick and easy breakfast idea

- Offer a breakfast product promotion 


But why eat breakfast?  Wouldn’t one be better off spending more time in bed?  NO!  Research has found that:

- breakfast eaters tend to be slimmer than breakfast skippers.

- eating breakfast can aid concentration and mental performance at work and at school;

- breakfast provides you with the nutrients and energy needed for an active lifestyle;

- breakfast eaters are less depressed and have lower levels of stress than breakfast skippers.


On site…

Here on the site there are a variety of breakfast-based activities and resources.  For both 7-11 and 11-14 year olds there is the Design a Better Breakfast unit, which also boasts three helpful videos to support the work.  The aims are to encourage breakfast consumption by demonstrating that there is an almost infinite variety of options of what to eat to break your night-long fast.  Ideas for toast toppings and assorted cereal supplements should ensure that, with a little forethought and planning, everyone can design and prepare a nutritious healthy breakfast to suit their taste, timeframe and budget.


Alternatively you could try one of the delicious breakfast recipes on the site in our Best Breakfast section; eggs and berries feature heavily – even together.  (As pancakes!)


20110121 Breakfast poster

Also available is a classroom poster: Breakfast From Around the World, which is available free of charge.  Investigate whether breakfast meals differ in hot and cold countries; which nations eat out most at breakfast time; and which feast upon leftovers first thing.  To order your copy please email us at



Why not show younger children where their breakfast foods come from.  Bring the grain chain process to life using our From Wheat Seed to Table section which pictorially demonstrates the journey from tiny seed to slice of toast.  You could also investigate how cereal products feature in so many of the foods we associate with breakfast.


Elsewhere on the site …

20110121 HedgerowFor the 14-16 year old age group we have a range of case studies, including Wheat Farming and Sustainable Development.  New technology has made wheat farming in the UK more productive. However production has to be sustainable.  Productivity today cannot be enjoyed at the expense of production tomorrow.  Visit this unit to discover some of the considerations and initiatives facing wheat growers today, including integrated farm management; fertilisers; biodiversity and other environmental initiatives; and non-food uses for cereal crops.

More free resources for our readers!

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Smiley Wheat Character Aug10Take your class on a Taste Adventure

As our regular blog readers will know, we’ve teamed up with Slow Food UK to offer children across the country the chance to take part in a fantastic Taste Adventure. Children set off on a journey across five different activity stations, each with an activity aimed at engaging one of the five senses. After taking part in The Taste Adventure, students should have a greater understanding of the following:

    how to appreciate food using each sense individually

    how each sense affects the others

    the basic elements of taste

    the difference between taste and flavour

The Grain Chain team will be at the BBC Good Food show in Birmingham on Sunday 28 November, so if you live nearby, why not pop along and say hello?

The Taste Adventure can be carried out in schools and is completely free! If you are interested, take a look at

Top tips – lesson ideas

Have you checked out our additional worksheets, courtesy of Licence to Cook? Learn about everything from how grain is grown, harvested and milled to the role of the ingredients in bread there will be something for everyone. Furthermore, each worksheet is set up in a Microsoft Word format, enabling you to adapt them to best suit your class.

Have you got a class full of teenage chatterboxes? Tap into their love of talking by looking at sensory vocabulary to describe foods. By sensory vocabulary, you may want to point out that you mean “proper” words such as “tasty” rather than “sick” (for those of you who don’t know, this bizarrely means “really good”). Encourage them to talk about the smell, taste, texture and appearance of different bread and other foodstuffs rather than last night’s episode of Hollyoaks. See our sensory vocabulary poster which you can use to start your lesson.

National Curry Week curry

Did you know that this week is National Curry Week?

National Curry Week was established in 1998 to raise money for those struck by poverty and malnutrition in South Asia. Restaurants all over the country are raising money by selling special dishes and raffle tickets and asking customers to add just one pound to their bills, which is exactly the amount that half of the world’s population lives off per day. They are also running competitions like “Currybard of the Year“ (for the best curry-related poem), the Samosa Speed Record (for the most samosas prepared in 10 minutes) and the World Poppadom Tower Challenge! This year, money raised through National Curry Week activities will be going to the Pakistan Flood Disaster Appeal.

Why not raise awareness amongst your students and teach them to make a delicious, home-made version of the Nation’s favourite food? Our Rogan Josh recipe uses oil (try vegetable oil to get additional benefits) rather than ghee, which means it is therefore lower in saturated fat than most takeaways. Surprise students with our recipe for naan bread – which is made with yoghurt! Or have a go at making our chapattis- the perfect accompaniment to an Indian meal.

Don’t forget…

We’re on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter so why not follow us for more regular news, information, lesson ideas and tips.

Children can have a taste adventure!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 has teamed up with Slow Food UK to offer you the chance to take your class or child on an exciting taste adventure where they can squish strawberries, crunch carrots or get to grips with grain.

The Taste Adventure is a free of charge, simple but fun activity aimed at four to 10 year olds (but loved just as much by the big kids among us) which teaches children to think about food in greater detail. Budding young taste adventurers are given a passport at the start of their inspiring journey through five interactive zones- each engaging one of our five senses- taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight. Each zone enables them to explore, interact and make new food discoveries through a series of challenges. Can they tell the difference between sweet, savoury, sour and bitter tastes? Have they ever listened to the sound that their food makes? (We’re not talking about the snap, crackle and pop of their breakfast cereal here but more the crunch of freshly baked bread or the squishy, slurpy noise when they eat cucumber). Are they brave enough to put their hand into the unknown and guess what food stuff is in the bag, using only their sense of touch?

When they successfully complete their journey through each zone, children receive a stamp on their passport, which they then take home as proof that they have successfully completed their quest.

The Taste Adventure is coming to lots of different events around the country, so be sure to keep checking out our blog for details.

Support your classroom based food work with a visit to the PRINTSHOP exhibition

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Tractor with wheat has found a fantastic new art exhibition which visually highlights the complex processes involved in growing, harvesting, milling, baking and grinding wheat into breadcrumbs. Food technology or home economics teachers may find that this is an interesting and different opportunity to support their classroom based food work. Art teachers and their classes might also find the exhibition interesting and thought provoking.

Against a backdrop of murals showing industrial wheat processing, artist Belle Benfield’s exhibition, PRINTSHOP includes over 200 handmade printing stamps. Students have the opportunity to get involved by printing shopping lists and supermarket signs. They can familiarise themselves with the processes and machines that go into making breadcrumbs. This exhibition will enable students to reflect on the lengthy processes that go into the production of supermarket foods as we all hunt for the lowest prices.

The exhibition is open every day from 10am to 5pm at The HUB, Navigation Wharf, Carre Street, Sleaford, NG34 7TW until 3 October 2010.

And the winners are…

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The UK’s most inspiring food technology teachers receive their awards

demoOur Inspire! Competition finalists attended an awards ceremony at Kensington Roof Gardens on Friday 25 June where, not only were they presented with their trophies but they were also treated to an Interactive baking demonstration by celebrity baker, Paul Hollywood. One lucky student, who came as his teacher’s guest, got the chance to participate!

Our six teachers waited nervously to find out whether they had won the winner’s prize of £1500 on top of their £300 finalists award. Only one could receive the grand prize… and we are delighted to announce that Simon Ferguson from Hitchin Girls School was the lucky winner.

Simon has only been teaching food technology for one year, but he wowed the Grain Chain judges with his “floury fairground” lesson plan which bought together flour, food and all the fun of the fairground.

Inspire! competition winners at Kensington Roof Gardens. Overall      winner, Simon Ferguson from Hitchin Girls School with celebrity  baker,     Paul Hollywood 25.6.10Students were invited to jump on the “teacup ride” to investigate different breakfasts, and to test themselves on the “white water raft”, where they experimented with gluten. The “dodgems” activity challenged students to drive forward a healthy flour based snack for a child. The scheme ended with the “waltzer” activity which saw students evaluate their work. If you would like to see Simon’s entry, plus the exciting and inspiring lesson plans from our other finalists, we will be uploading them onto soon. Alternatively, if you have any useful tips or ideas that other teachers could benefit from, then please send them across to the Grain Chain team at

Summer holidays are coming up…

We reckon you’ll want to put your feet up for the first few weeks of the summer holiday so we’re taking a break from blogging throughout July. However, if you are really keen then don’t forget that you can still follow us through Twitter at or on Facebook at!/pages/Grain-Chain/111828768858694. Our blogs will be back at the start of August to help you get underway with lesson planning for your new class.

The whole country has gone sports mad!

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Whether you like tennis, cricket, horse racing or football, there’s a sport for everyone in June. This blog links food and fun to produce exciting lesson plans and ideas.

Plan a World Cup themed lesson

It seems like the whole world has gone football crazy, so why not treat your class to a food technology lesson with a world cup theme.

pic blog 21 june

You could use our breakfast poster, which you can get your hands on by emailing, to   teach children about the different breakfasts that are eaten around the world.

Explain that England Captain, Steven Gerrard and the lads, will most likely be eating a South African breakfast of porridge, cereal, eggs or fruit- perfect for giving them enough energy to take on the world!

England coach, Fabio Capello on the other hand may still favour his traditional Italian breakfast of coffee with milk and a bread roll with butter, jam or fruit marmalade.

If you are a food technology teacher looking for some fun practical ideas, why not cook popular flour or bread based meals that people like to eat in some of the World Cup countries? You could try creating an Italian pizza using our recipe for pizza dough which can be found at the following link Simply create a basic Margherita (cheese and tomato) pizza, chop some cherry tomatoes in half or use chopped red peppers instead and place onto the pizza in the shape of a cross to create the England Flag.

Alternatively you could make a Swiss fondu (a pot of melted cheese in which diners dip pieces of bread) or Mexican flour tortillas, which you could use to make fajitas. For something a bit more exotic, you could try baking Ghanaian gari biscuits or Slovenian potica (nut bread).

Wicked Wimbledon!

If football isn’t your thing, and you prefer something a bit more leisurely, then the Wimbledon Tennis Championships have just kicked off. It’s a typically British affair, where strawberries and cream, picnics with soggy cheese and tomato sandwiches, rain and of course, Cliff Richard, all come into the public eye again. So this fortnight, why not focus your food technology lessons around traditional English picnic food – soggy sandwiches not included!

Designing a sandwich using pre-sliced wrapped loaves makes a fun activity for younger children or alternatively, older children may enjoy the challenge of baking their own bread, then using that to make their sandwich recipe. Our “Super Sandwich” worksheet which is aimed at children aged five to seven, can be found by clicking the following link  Furthermore, it’s in a Microsoft Word format, which can be edited to suit the age and ability range of your class.

Did you know?

  • Sliced bread was first introduced into the UK in the 1930s.
  • Bread provides useful amounts of carbohydrates, B vitamins, protein and calcium. White flour is fortified with calcium, iron, thiamin and niacin. So despite some claims in the media, bread is really good for you – it’s the spreads and fillings which can increase the calories and fat content.

Inspire! competition winners

Monday, June 7th, 2010

And the Inspire! winners are…

We were really pleased with the quality of the entries that we received from entrants of our Inspire! competition. It was great to see so many inspiring entries in such a range of media and from across the whole of the UK including the Channel Islands. However, our finalists are…

  • Ralph Allen School in Bath (England)
  • Ysgol uwchradd caergybi in Holyhead (Wales)
  • Hitchin Girls School in Hertfordshire (England)
  • Braeview Academy in Dundee (Scotland)
  • St Louise’s Comprehensive College in Belfast (Northern Island)
  • Le Murier School in Guernsey (Channel Islands)

All are in with the chance of winning £1500 for their school. To find out who wins, be sure to come back to this page.

Join us on Twitter!

The Grain Chain is now on Twitter. Follow us at for even more news and daily updates.

We want to hear your thoughts about our website

What do you particularly like about our website? Is there anything that you think we could improve? What would you like to see more of? We want to hear your thoughts and ideas on our discussion forum at We’d also like to work more closely with teachers in the future. If you would like to take part in any workshops, focus groups or surveys then email us at

Food baffles children

A studtractory by the British Trust of Conservation Volunteers has shown that this generation of children do not know how their food grows or where their food comes from. Eight out of ten adults worry about how little children know about their food. It means that many children are growing up not knowing what is in the foods that they are eating- which is a shame as bread is not only really tasty but also really healthy and a great source of many different vitamins and minerals.

Under all of the age group sections on our website, we have resources including information sheets, videos and interactive whiteboard activities to teach children about how grain is grown and made into bread. We also have bread making recipes in our recipe section which you could use to create a follow up lesson:

British Sandwich Week

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

It’s Brisandwich3tish Sandwich Week

British Sandwich Week (May 9-15th) presents a great opportunity to celebrate one of Britain’s best loved and versatile foods – the sandwich. Since being uncovered and named by the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1762, the Great British Sandwich has become common place at lunchtimes in homes, offices, schools, and shops all over Britain. Unlike so many other foods today, the average sandwich is wholesome, healthy and ideally suited to today’s busy lifestyles where people want foods that are convenient to carry and easy to eat.

Top tip!

Children perform better at school when they eat a substantial breakfast and a healthy, balanced lunch. Lunchboxes should contain foods from the following four food groups:

- Starchy carbohydrates such as bread, or pasta. A sandwich is ideal as not only will it give children energy but bread also contains essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, B vitamins and iron.

- Fruit and vegetables. Favourites include bananas, grapes and easy peel satsumas. Raw vegetable sticks or cherry tomatoes are normally welcomed.

- Protein. Try adding chicken or cheese to a sandwich with lots of salad.

- Dairy. A small fruit based yoghurt or a bite sized piece of cheese works well.

Rather than provide children with fizzy drinks or sugary juices, give them a bottle of water. It is essential for keeping both body and brain hydrated.  Alternatively a glass of milk is one of the most nutritious choices available and is a good source of essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D which play a key part in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

Did you know…?

- The first recorded sandwich was made by the famous rabbi, Hillel the Elder, who lived during the 1st century BC.

- Sliced bread was introduced into the UK in the mid 1930’s.

- Sandwiches account for up to 50% of the bread we eat.

- Over 30% of all sandwiches sold have chicken as a filling. The British Sandwich Association estimates that the amount of chicken used in a year is 20,550 tonnes.

- Over 62% of the population buy a sandwich at least once a year.

- The most expensive place to buy a sandwich is London - £1.83 versus a national average of £1.66.