Vincent Cheng（China Productivity Center Agriculture Management Department）
“Eating” is a major part of everyone’s life! Dietary lifestyle is related to an individual’s “dietary health and consumption", a society’s “dietary lifestyle and culture,” and a food source’s “agricultural production and environment.” Unfortunately, the busy lifestyle of a modern-day human has resulted in people’s unfamiliarity with their food, society, and environment. In recent years, different fields have been directing attention to the development of Food and Agricultural Education in the hope of reconnecting the lost bonds between land and dietary lifestyle – the bond between an individual and his/her dietary health and intake, the bond between a person and the society, economy, and cultural sphere he/she lives in, and the bond between human and agriculture.
1. Visualizing the Food and Agricultural Education and Connecting People with their Food and Native Soil
Dietary lifestyle is correlated to negative changes within social transformations. Recurrent problems such as diseases of affluence, food safety, reliance on imported food due to western pattern diet, environmental protection, and socioeconomic changes in rural villages easily result in a loss of public confidence in this land and a decrease in social happiness. Thus, it is vital for citizens and consumers to take action to reverse the adverse effects of social transformations on dietary lifestyle.
The government and many social groups are honing in on the development of food and agricultural education in the hope of reconnecting the lost bonds between land and dietary lifestyle – the bond between an individual and his/her dietary health and intake, the bond between a person and the society, economy, and cultural sphere he/she lives in, and the bond between human and agriculture. However, what is the food and agricultural education and what does that mean? Since everyone has their own view and experience regarding dietary lifestyle, the point of entry for discussion differs as well. This essay will discuss and share from the perspective of a food and agricultural education learner’s dietary lifestyle the experience of implementing the COA’s food and agricultural education promotion plan in campus through the industry-university cooperation between the Center and Professor Lin Ju-Ping of Department of Human Development and Family Studies of National Taiwan Normal University since 2017.
2. The Conceptual Framework of Food and Agricultural Education
Upon accepting the commission of the Council of Agriculture of the Executive Yuan, Professor Lin Ju-Ping referenced the “Guidance on Food Education” published by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the research of “Agricultural Literacy” conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and furthermore combined these studies with Taiwan’s circumstances and the new curriculum guidelines of Ministry of Education’s Twelve-year Basic Education. With the “food and agricultural literacy” as a foundation, Professor Lin proposed the conceptual framework of Food and Agricultural Education and its curriculum which includes the three dimensions of “agricultural production and environment,” “dietary health and consumption,” and “dietary lifestyle and culture.” The three dimensions correspond to six themes of “agricultural production and safety,” “agriculture and environment,” “diet and health,” “dietary intake and lifestyle,” “diet culture,” “diet habit,” and related materials (hereon referred as 3 Dimensions and 6 Themes). The framework will be implemented with the educational strategy of “experiential learning,” a strategy of increasing the interest of learning through the “application” of knowledge in daily eating lifestyle.
Figure 1. Conceptual Framework of Food and Agricultural Education and its Curriculum
3. From Farmland to Dining Table
In addition to the conceptual framework of “3 Dimensions and 6 Themes,” we hope to broaden the scope of the Food and Agricultural Education beyond normal imagination. The term “agriculture” in Food and Agricultural Education is defined as “the utilization of natural resources, agricultural materials and technology to engage in leisure and recreation, production and distribution of farming, forestry, aquaculture and animal husbandry (Article 3 of Agricultural Development Act). Thus, the Food and Agricultural Education encompasses all types and fields of the agricultural sector.
Agricultural production is interconnected with dietary lifestyle, as diet is also an agricultural behavior. The slogan, “from farmland to dining table,” does not merely cover the beginning and the end. We can expand our understanding of agriculture from producers (farmers) to the entirety of agricultural production, transportation, and sales – or even the food industry. The repeating farmland-to-dining-table process, such as production and sales, and workers participating in these processes and operations deserves our care and understanding. In some agricultural counties and cities in Taiwan, employment in agriculture and agricultural sales support for more than half of the total labor force of these regions.
Figure 2. Initiative-taking, Public Engagement, and the Seek for Common Good are Core Values of Food and Agricultural Literacy
4. Training of Initiative-taking, Public Engagement, and the Seek for Common Good in Food and Agricultural Literacy.
The Council of Agriculture aims to develop the food and agricultural literacy through the promotion of Food and Agricultural Education; this includes applying knowledge, skills, and attitude – an emphasis of initiative-taking, public engagement, and the seek for common good – in daily dietary lifestyle and training learners with beneficial knowledge through the principles of holistic education and life-long learning.
- “Take the initiative” of having a healthy diet: Cultivate diet-related knowledge and the ability to choose. Develop a positive sense of consumption and diet habit to realize a healthy lifestyle.
- “Engage with the public” and the notion of culture inheritance: Understand the food and agricultural activities and be aware of the connection between the agriculture and the economy, society, and environment. Approve the value of the agricultural sector and increase support for domestic agricultural products and protect our dietary and agricultural culture inheritance.
- “Seek common good” with the environment: Support local production for local consumption and promote agricultural sustainability by fostering care for rural villages, nature, and the environment.
5. Public-wide Food and Agricultural Education and Human Life Course
The target audience of the food and agricultural education promotion is the general public. It is simpler to inspire an individual’s interest by understanding their dietary lifestyle background. However, the human life course has several different stages, such as infant, pre-schooling years, youth, adulthood, middle age, and senior years. We can develop appropriate education strategies and content by examining different stages’ circumstances, personal health, dietary lifestyle, diet culture, and agricultural environment needs as a means to improve the effectiveness of learning.
Local government can treat the food and agricultural education as one of their pillar policies and collaborate with other departments or bureaus. It is more pragmatic to formulate plans for the food and agricultural education with the human life course as the basic framework. We can start by surveying the public health or dietary lifestyle for establishing long-term objectives. By instituting straightforward policies and objectives in accordance with age groups, we can connect the local production for local consumption concept with local diet culture during promotion process. This will hopefully promote a healthy diet, agricultural development, and dietary cultural inheritance for the general public.
6. Protect our Native Soil (Conclusion)
The reason why regional ambrosia captivates the taste bud of the masses was never due to its taste but more so thanks to the warmth of familial affection and blessing from the native soil.
The notion of irrelevance between daily meals and agriculture is false! “Food” is the priority, but “agriculture” is the foundation of the food and agricultural education. Through a learner’s dietary perspective, we can use education to connect his/her food consumption and health with the society, economy, and culture, and eventually conjugate him/her with the land that brought forth his/her existence and his/her upcoming stages of life. There will be a psychological union between people with people, people with the environment, people with health, and people with culture through the food and agricultural education. We hope to inspire support and attention from the public of this plan that will usher flourishment in our nation.