What is Food Literacy?

What is Food Literacy?

Nourish defines food literacy as “the ability to make informed choices about food that support one’s health, community, and the environment.” At every scale — national, regional, local, school, organization, family— food literacy creates enduring value.

Food literacy is an entry point and a catalyst for change. Across communities and organizations, it serves as a powerful:

Context — Understanding the story of our food means enlarging one’s frame of reference to include the whole food system. As we discover our connection to the ecologies, people, and processes that bring us our food, we begin to take responsibility for these relationships. With greater context, we experience deeper meaning.

Process — We are all on a food journey. This journey is rooted in our families and cultural traditions, and evolves over our lifetime. Food literacy implies a social process, made more meaningful by inquiry and conversations. Food literacy supports and energizes a change process by linking learning and practice.

Set of Experiences — We become more food literate through a set of learning experiences. Food literate people often point to transformative food-related experiences that shaped their lives, such as shopping at a farmers market and learning how to cook. A food literacy strategy combines multiple learning experiences to generate new understandings and build new capabilities.

Way of Being and Acting — Food literacy invites us to be conscious, healthy individuals who play an active role in creating a sustainable food future. Our relationship to food becomes a place to stand, a place to act, and an expression of our core values. Food literate people and communities serve as agents of change.

Additional Resources

  • Food System Glossary
    Food literacy means learning a new language. Grow your vocabulary with this glossary of food system terms.
  • Food System Tools
    Food literacy means enlarging our context. Visualize the ecologies, people, and processes that bring us our food.
  • Food Literacy Slides
    Food literacy means opening a conversation. Use these evocative slides to define food literacy and offer questions for inquiry. Download the PDF.
  • Food Literacy Rubric
    Food literacy means developing new understandings. Assess the food literacy of an individual or group with twenty indicators divided into three areas: Core Concepts, Values, and Practices. Download the PDF.
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