The Grain Chain

Archive for May, 2011

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.

Healthy active lifestyle with

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Ahead of their Annual Shareholder Meeting, McDonalds have faced pressure from campaigners to stop advertising to children.

Hundreds of healthcare professionals have signed an open letter written by campaign group Corporate Accountability International, stating

“Our community is devoted to caring for sick children and preventing illness through public education … But our efforts cannot compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars you spend each year directly marketing to kids.”

McDonalds says it promotes important messages to children on safety, literacy and balanced active lifestyles as well as providing a diverse menu with healthier options available.

For more information on healthy balanced lifestyles visit  It boasts two sections on energy balance both bursting with lesson plans, activity sheets and information pages.  Designed for ages 7-11 and 11-14.

Rainfall and wheat crops

Friday, May 13th, 2011

While most of us are enjoying the glorious temperate weather, farmers are hoping for rain; and lots of it.  Trade magazine The Grocer warned: “Supplies of British fruit and vegetables, as well as grains, such as wheat, could come under serious pressure if the dry spell continues.”

Learn more about the growing cycle of wheat including an investigation of  average monthly rainfall and sunshine throughout the year via’s Farming Our Food activity sheet.  It was designed for 7-11 year olds though with a word version available it can be easily adapted to suit younger or older children also.

The best thing since sliced bread?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
20110512 SandwichAn article in today’s Times (The best thing that’s ever happened to sliced bread, Thursday 12 May 2011) investigates a great British invention: the sandwich.  Rumoured to have been invented in 1762 when the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, wanted a meal that he could eat during his card game and requested sliced beef in between pieces of toast.

I was brought up in a world full of pre-packaged sandwiches and it seems incredulous that it is just 30 years since the first one hit the shelves at Marks and Spencers.  Salmon and tomato apparently, swiftly followed by the now-retro prawn mayonnaise in 1981. offers lots of resources and recipes for bread and flour.  Take a look at our section on Where bread comes from to find out how wheat from the fields get transformed into loaves of bread; or be inspired by some of our tasty lunchtime recipes.  Try pitta pockets or tuna or ham & cheese wraps.

Global warming blamed for rising food prices

Friday, May 6th, 2011

An article in the Guardian on Friday 6 May highlighted a new study, published in the journal Science, which reported that rising temperatures are responsible for reduced crop yields of all major producer nations between 1980 and 2008. has developed a podcast looking at various factors, including supply and demand, that influence the cost of the food on our supermarket shelves.  The podcast can be accessed here.