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Sandra Fordyce-Voorham’s Food Literacy Model

October 26, 2013

Food Literacy Skills Hierarchy – an adaptation from Green’s 3D (Green B, 1999) literacy model and Renwick’s model (Renwick K, 2013) Conceptualising critical food literacy: Health literacy – the globalisation of our food supply incorporating Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

A Food Literacy Hierarchy Model integrating concepts based on Bronfenbrenner (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Paquette D & Ryan J, 2001), Green (Green B, 1999) and Renwick (Renwick K, 2013)

Description of Food Literacy Hierarchy Model
The Model consists of three levels comprising Basic, Intermediate and Advanced food literacy skills.

Each level is matched with Bronfenbrenner’s (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Paquette D & Ryan J, 2001) theory of ecological systems viz:-
Basic level – described as the operational dimension (Renwick K, 2013), the tasks performed at this level focus on the individual and their interactions with food.
Examples include: an individual’s food likes and dislikes, access to different varieties (fresh and processed) and amount of food, basic knowledge of the origins of food (‘Paddock to Plate’), the chemical (nutritional) and sensory (aesthetic) properties of food in relation to their health.
Intermediate level – described as the cultural dimension (Renwick K, 2013), the food tasks performed at this level involve the individual interacting with people (family, teachers, students and local shopping vendors) in their near environment (Micro-Meso system).
Examples include: family food likes and dislikes, food decisions (“gate-keeping” of food – who and what influences the food planned, purchased, stored, prepared and consumed in the home and school), availability of, and access to food in the home (farmyard, backyard and balcony gardens and domestic food production of eggs and preservation of home-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables) and community (supermarkets, strip shopping fresh food vendors such as butchers, greengrocers, bakeries, roadside stalls and farmers’ markets)
Advanced level – described as the critical dimension (Renwick K, 2013), the food tasks performed at this level involve the individual interacting with the social environment (media, culture, society, technology) and making ethical decisions about food (Exo-Macro system)
Examples include: social (including television, digital and print media and technology) and cultural factors influencing and modifying individual and family food decisions and choices.

Definition of Food Literacy in context with declarative skills
Declarative (Reynolds J, 2000) skills focus on the context in which that meal is constructed: the suitability of the meal occasion, decisions and resources required to complete the meal to a level considered satisfactory to the food preparer and for the other individuals consuming the meal.
They include the food literacy skills which refers to an individual’s ability to make effective consumer decisions such as weighing-up the monetary versus the time-saving costs of purchasing convenience foods (Lang & Caraher, 2001).

Food literacy, like food skills, is an evolving term that has an assumed understanding (Pendergast D & Dewhurst Y, 2012; Stinson E, 2010; Thomas Heather MC & Irwin Jennifer D, 2011; Vidgen H & Gallegos D, 2012) and has been applied to a community setting and defined most recently as ‘a collection of inter-related knowledge, skills and behaviours required to plan, manage, select, prepare and eat foods to meet needs and determine food intake’ (Vidgen H & Gallegos D, 2012)
Applied to an education setting, food literacy is described as a declarative skill and more narrowly defined as “the ability of consumers to understand and act upon the food labelling and nutritional information they need to prepare tasty and nutritious meals for themselves and their families” (Fordyce-Voorham S, 2010).
More recently, the definition has been broadened to include decision making skills and food and nutritional information and now reads as; “the ability of consumers to understand, decide and act upon food and nutritional information they need to prepare tasty and nutritious meals for themselves and their families”.

Ask me more

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development:Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Fordyce-Voorham S. (2010). Identification of food skills for healthful eating programs in secondary schools. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, 43(2), 116-122.
Green B. (1999). The New Literacy challenge? Literacy Learning: Secondary Thoughts, 7(1), 36-46.
Lang, T, & Caraher, M. (2001). Is there a culinary skills transition? Data and debate from the UK about changes in cooking culture. Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, 8(2), 2-14.
Paquette D, & Ryan J. (2001). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory.
Pendergast D, & Dewhurst Y. (2012). Home Economics and food literacy: An international investigation International Journal of Home Economics, 5(2), 245-263.
Renwick K. (2013). Food literacy as a form of critical pedagogy: Implications for curriculum development and pedagogical engagement for Australia’s diverse student population. Victorian Journal of Home Economics, 52(2), 6-17.
Reynolds J. (2000). The construction of food-related behaviour and implications for school- based, adolescent food and nutrition education. Journal of Home Economics Institute of Australia, 7(1), 2-13.
Stinson E. (2010). Eating the World: Food Literacy and its place in Secondary School Classrooms. (Master of Education), University of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
Thomas Heather MC, & Irwin Jennifer D. (2011). Cook it Up! A commucooking program for at-risk youth: Overview of a food literacy intervention. BMC Research Notes, 4(495).
Vidgen H, & Gallegos D. (2012). Defining food literacy, its components, development and relationship to food intake: A case study of young people and disadvantage. Brisbane, Queensland: Queensland University of Technology.


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