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Food & identity

Use the 'Food and identity' inquiry unit to investigate the role of food in creating a national cultural identity.

Download the 'Food and identity' curriculum outcome documents below to see how this unit aligns with VELS standards for levels 3 and 4, and the Australian Curriculum for years 3 to 6.

For a quick overview of the topic, see Food & identity – theme overview.


  • Show photographs from Peter Menzel's 'Hungry planet: what the world eats' and ask students to describe each composition using a Y chart.
  • Ask students to list their 'pantry essentials': what foods do they always have in the cupboard at home?
  • Brainstorm connections between food and identity: what does it mean when people say 'you are what you eat'?
  • Watch Kunle Adesua talk about his experience migrating to Australia. Engage students in this provocation: You migrate to another country. What food would be available? How would your own traditions, culture, rituals and beliefs be affected? What would remain the same? What would change over time? Rate how important food is to your identity.


  • Ask students to bring in their own family photos of celebrations and compare these to the 'Hungry planet: what the world eats' images.
  • Explore Indigenous perspectives by inviting local elders to speak about food and identity.
  • Invite guest speakers from local cultural groups to share their own insights and experiences about how food relates to their identity.
  • Visit a local market or ethnic food store to discover some new foods from different cultures.
  • Use the Food & identity interview activity, which encourages students to explore the role of food in their own rituals, beliefs, celebrations and traditions.



  • Instruct students to tell their own food story to demonstrate their understanding of food and identity.
  • Challenge students to refine their understanding of the role of food in their life, by creating a collage using food packaging and images.


  • Host a children's book festival to showcase the books students create in the Tell your own food story activity.
  • Challenge students to write a book review about a peer's story utilising their own success criteria.
  • Reflect on student progress through individual learning conferences. Revisit the provocation from the 'engage' section above to review prior knowledge and changes in understanding.

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