© UpperCut Images / Alamy

A is for agriculture.

Melissa Locker
Updated August 07, 2017

Most kids spend a little time in school learning about the food pyramid and discovering how many servings of fruits and vegetables and sweets and meats to eat each day. While that basic knowledge of the very fundamental story of food has sufficed for years, there’s a growing movement around the globe to teach kids a whole lot more about where their food actually comes from in the form of required agriculture classes.

The Secretary of Agriculture in the Philippines recently announced that his department was teaming up with the Department of Education to create an agricultural curriculum for school kids to use, reports Rappler via Modern Farmer. It’s a compelling idea, because farming classes can not only teach younger children the basics of food and agriculture, but older children can see real world examples of supply-and-demand economics in the grocery store. Plus, it could spark a lifelong interest in farming, which is a great way to secure the nation’s food supply when most kids these days want to be video game designers, software engineers, or whatever it is Kim Kardashian does.

As Modern Farmer points out, The Philippines isn’t the only country to consider requiring school children to learn the basics of agriculture. Jamaica has weighed making farming classes required, Australia offer “agriculture science” classes, and the Kenyan government is currently considering a proposal to make agriculture a compulsory subject for elementary through high school students.

The movement is growing within the U.S., too. Many high schools in the U.S. offer agriculture classes to students, helping to prepare them for the estimated 54,000 jobs for college graduates in the agricultural, food and renewable natural resources sectors. That could be growing, too. As Modern Farmer notes, last month the USDA secretary Sonny Perdue and the Future Farmers of America (the FFA) agreed to work together to help connect the iPhone generation with agriculture.

It will be interesting to see how that develops from either an expansion of federal funding for 4H programs, FFA in schools, or perhaps rolling out more so-called edible schoolyards programs where school kids grow the food served in their cafeterias. Since the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that roughly 15 percent of the U.S. workforce is employed in agriculture-related careers, teaching kids the basics of farming seems right up there with the ABCs—or at least the food pyramid.