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close this bookExploding the Hunger Myths - High School Curriculum (FF, 1987, 173 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentWhy this curriculum?
Open this folder and view contentsHow to use this curriculum
View the documentPretest: What do you think?
View the documentAction ideas handout
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 1: Hunger awareness
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 2: Is scarcity the problem?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 3: Are there too many people?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 4: Is technology the answer?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 5: Rich world, poor world?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 6: Will more foreign aid help end hunger?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 7: Can change happen?
Open this folder and view contentsLesson 8: Working together for change
View the documentGlossary
Open this folder and view contentsResource guide
View the documentAbout the institute for food and development policy



Absentee landowner person who lives at some distance from the property that he or she owns. Sometimes used to imply that landowner is negligent about responsibilities of ownership.

Acre a measurement of land equal to 43,560 square feet (1/2 city block or about the size of a football field).

Advertising describing and showing a product in ways designed to get people to buy it.

Agency for International Development (AID) the U.S. government agency that nuns aid programs to other countries.

Agricultural extension agent, agricultural extension service most countries, including the United States, have trained workers who go to farms and advise farmers on improving their farming methods. Extension agents often help young people, such as 4-H Club members, learn to farm' too.

Agriculture the science, art, or activity of farming; the cultivation of crops or raising of livestock.

Aid financial, personnel, or material assistance provided by a person, government, or nongovernmental organization; may be a grant or a loan and can take many forms, such as military equipment and advisors, medical supplies, food, construction projects, or direct monetary contributions.

Allen person who is a citizen of a country other than the one in which he or she is residing.

Apartheid the system of racial separation in the Republic of South Africa by which the laws and institutions of the country deny blacks and all other nonwhite South Africans equal political, economic, and social rights.

Appropriate technology small-scale, simple, practical, and cheap solutions to problems such as fuel or water scarcity. Solutions draw on local human and material resources and can be duplicated with little or no outside help.

Arable land suitable for farming.

Assistance help or aid.

Assumption an idea or belief that one takes for granted or presumes to be true without questioning or asking for evidence.


Balance sheets in bookkeeping, the pages that show whether the business has lost money or made a profit overall.

Bilateral aid aid given by one government to another government.

Biotechnology application of biological principles in commercial processes, using organisms or the substances they produce. New seed varieties have been developed using biotechnology.

Boycott an organized plan of refusing to buy products or use services from a particular company or organization, or from a particular country or region, in order to bring about changes in policy.


Calorie a unit used to measure the food energy required to maintain the body. In the United States, the average adult requires 2,100-2,700 calories a day; a teaspoon of sugar contains sixteen calories. A calorie, when referred to in chemistry, physics, and biology texts, is actually 1/1,000 of a "nutrition" calorie. It represents the amount of energy needed to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade.

Campesino rural agricultural worker; Spanish equivalent of English peasant.

Carrier a container used by farmworkers to bring fruit from the field.

Cash crop a crop grown to be sold for money and consumed elsewhere instead of being used to feed the people who cultivate it.

Change to make different.

Charity an act of benevolence or kindness; a voluntary gift to those perceived as needy. It may or may not be helpful in the long run.

Chronic hunger perpetual or constant hunger with lasting effects on a person's health and development.

Colony a people or territory separated from, but ruled by, another people or government.

Colostrum the first milk produced by mammals just after giving birth. It is extremely nutritious and helps protect the newborn against disease.

Common Market an association of countries formed to establish a closer economic union, especially through mutual trade agreements and tariff concessions; specifically, the European Economic Community.

Consumer a person or organization that uses goods or services.

Cooperative (coop) an association for buying, selling, or working together to the advantage of the members of the association; a worker-owned or customer-owned business. Common examples are agricultural, food, credit, and educational coops.

Cost, of living amount of money needed to purchase food, shelter, health care, transportation, and other items in a society; increases with inflation.

Culture special ways of living that give a society its unity and character. Traditional foods, different roles for men and women, ways of raising children, religious rituals and beliefs, artistic and musical traditions all those characteristics shared from generation to generation that give a society its identity.


Density amount of something in a given area, as in population density.

Deportation the act by government authority of forcing a person to leave a country.

Developed country usually refers to an industrialized country that has the necessary means to supply all of its citizens with basic needs. These countries have extensive transportation, energy, communication, education, food processing and storage, housing, and health care systems. However, access to these supply systems can be closed to many people who do not have the money.

Development the growth of a person or society toward its full potential. It is often used to mean "industrialization" or "modernization" of third world countries, with the assumption that industrialized countries like the United States are the ideal.

Dilapidated in bad condition; ruined; nun down.

Displaced removed from one's original home.

Distortion twisting out of shape; twisting of the facts; a misrepresentation; a perversion or unfaithful rendition.

Donor one who gives or donates.

Drought severe lack of rainfall or other source of moisture during a given period.


Ecological damage the upsetting of relationships between living organisms and the soil, water, and climate in a given area.

Economic Support Fund (ESF) part of U.S. government aid given to other governments that they can use for a wide variety of purposes; not tied to a particular project.

Economy a system of producing, distributing, and consuming wealth. A country with an agricultural economy will gain most of its income from the sale of agricultural products.

Editorial an article in a publication expressing the opinion of the editors or publishers on a given subject; in radio and television, commentary reflecting the views of the station or network.

Empathy compassion for others; the ability to put oneself in the place of another.

Environmental having to do with one's surroundings.

Equity the difference between the market value of land or other valuable item and the amount the owner owes on the item. If a farmer borrows $1,000 to buy an acre of land and the market price of the land goes up to $3,000, the farmer now has $2,000 more equity in the land, so the bank might loan the farmer another $2,000. Equity also means fairness, justice.

Export to ship items to other countries for sale or exchange; an item or product that is shipped out of the country.

Export agriculture an agricultural system that produces crops to sell to other countries rather than to be consumed where they are grown.


Fact that which actually exists; truth; something that has been done; an observable event or occurrence.

Fallow (land) left unplanted for one or more growing seasons in order to prevent depletion of soil nutrients, prevent erosion, and add organic matter to the soil.

Family planning conscious attempt to limit or control the number of children a couple will have.

Famine extreme and widespread hunger in an area.

Federal nutrition programs programs organized at various times by the U.S. government to improve nutrition for pregnant and nursing women, babies, school children, and senior citizens.

Fertilizer material added to the soil to increase nutrients available to plants.

Flunkie a term of contempt for a person who does menial work; a worker who is excessive in trying to impress a supervisor.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) an agency of the United Nations that manages programs in food production, agriculture, and nutrition. This agency also collects statistics on world food production and supply.

Food bank a regional center for food donated by the government, organizations, companies, and individuals. From these banks food is usually sent out to local soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and food programs for poor people.

Food stamps food coupons issued by the U.S. government to help people purchase food for themselves and their families. To receive food stamps, a person must fill out an application each month to certify that he or she doesn't have enough money to buy food.

Food supply The types and quantities of food products available for consumption in a given area or country.

Foreign policy a country's plan or course of action aimed at determining its relationships with other nations, includes trade, territorial rights, access to resources, political and military relations, and other economic and strategic interests.


Generic foods foods sold without brand names or corporate labeling.

Green Revolution phrase referring to the introduction of new agricultural technologies to underdeveloped countries to increase crop yields, begun in the 1950s.

Gross national product (GNP) the value of all finished goods and services produced in a country in a certain time period, usually a year.


Harvest the crop of one growing season.

Hectare area of land equal to 10,000 square meters; about two and a half acres.

Herbicide a chemical used to kill plants.

Hidden consumption the many pounds of grain that people consume indirectly when they eat the meat of animals fed that grain. Almost half the grain used in the world is fed to animals.

Hunger a state of need produced by insufficient nutrition; it can be experienced as pain or tiredness or extreme illness; it produces anguish, humiliation, grief, and fear in those who must endure it; and it is the cause of death for 20 million people every year.


Ideology a body of ideas widely held in a particular culture about what is good, valuable, or right and which therefore serves as a standard of normalcy in that culture; the doctrines upon which a particular political, social, or economic system is based.

Illiteracy inability to read and write.

Immigrant a person who arrives in a new homeland after leaving his or her country of birth.

Immigration entering another country for permanent residence.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) the U.S. government agency that controls immigration.

Import to accept goods into a country for sale or exchange; a product manufactured outside the country in which it is being sold or used.

Income payment received for work, goods produced, and rents, and from other sources.

Indigenous existing originally in an area; native.

Industrialized country a country whose economy is dominated by large-scale manufacturing and corporate businesses; often called a "developed" country.

Infant formula a prepared mixture of milk and other ingredients for feeding a baby.

Infant mortality rate (IMR), infant mortality statistics the number of babies who die before their first birthday out of every 1,000 born. In 1984 the infant mortality rate in the United States was about 11/1,000; in Sweden, 7/1,000; in Ethiopia, 172/1,000.

Inflation a fall in the value of the money of a country causing a sharp increase in the prices of goods and services. After an inflationary period a dollar buys less than it did before.

Informed choice a decision based on knowledge, observation, or facts.

Injustice an act, circumstance, or relationship that is unfair or inequitable. To commit an injustice is to wrong an individual or group.

Insecticides chemicals used to kill insects.

Interest the price a borrower has to pay for using a lender's money.

Irrigation a means of supplying water to dry land to help increase crop production.


Legumes plants in the bean family, very rich in protein.

Life expectancy the statistically predicted average number of years that a person born at a particular time and in a particular environment is likely to live.


Malnourished' malnutrition state of illness resulting from insufficient food or incorrect proportions of food nutrients.

Market a place where goods are offered for sale; also, to sell and distribute goods.

Market economy an economy in which goods are produced to be sold or traded with other economies.

Market strategy a plan for selling products and getting the best price; a technique or techniques used to convince people to buy a certain product. See also advertising.

Mechanization the introduction of machinery to do tasks formerly done by people or animals.

Monoculture planting an area with a single crop. Such uniform crop production runs higher risk of loss in the event of a plant disease or insect infestation.


National interest a goal or end that would be beneficial for a country as a whole. Because of disagreement about what these goals are, this phrase is often ambiguous; it may be taken to mean the security that comes from peaceful coexistence of all peoples, or it may be taken to justify attempts to extend economic or military control over others.

Natural resources raw materials present in the environment such as wood, coal, oil, minerals, water, water power, and arable land.

News information about current events of general interest; articles or broadcasts reporting such information. News is expected to be factual but can be biased.

Nomadic herder a person who has no permanent home but moves regularly in order to find grazing land for animals.

Nongovernmental organization organization or agency that is not part of a government, although many receive money from governments.

Nutritional deficiency inadequate amount of nutrients (protein, calories, fats, vitamins, minerals) in one's diet.


Observation the act of actually seeing or perceiving something.

Obstacle something that stands in the way; a hurdle.

Organic matter material derived from living or once-living organisms. In soil, organic matter may provide nutrients and help retain soil moisture. Leaving some residue of crops on the land at harvest time reduces the loss of soil organic matter.

Overpopulation having more people in an area than there are resources and space available to sustain them or accommodate their needs.


Passive not active; yielding or submissive, appearing to be without initiative or ability to change a situation.

Peasant any person of the class of small farmers or farm laborers; an agricultural worker, especially in the third world. Many early immigrants to the United States were peasants from Ireland, England, and Sweden.

Per capita for each person; the total amount (of food, land, etc.) divided by the number of people in the country, region, or group.

Peso name of the local monetary unit in a number of countries, including Mexico and the Philippines. Its purchasing power varies from country to country as does its dollar equivalent. In February 1987, a U.S. dollar was worth 1,039 Mexican pesos and 20,000 Philippine pesos.

Pesticide chemical used to kill unwanted insects and plants. Many pesticides pose serious health and environmental problems.

Petition a formally drawn up request or demand for action, addressed to a person or organization in power. Often, petitions are signed by many people; and in some cases they can be used to place an issue on the ballot for a vote.

Plantation a large farm, usually growing one kind of crop.

Population the number of people living on a certain area of land.

Population density the number of people per given unit of land, such as the number of people per square mile.

Poverty line, poverty level a level of income set by the U.S. government that describes the minimum amount of money the government thinks is necessary to provide food and shelter for a person or family. This line is used to decide whether a person receives food stamps or other help from the government. In 1986 it was set at $3,600 per year for a single person.

Predecessor a person or thing that came before; ancestor.

Prime time those hours of radio and television time when the largest audience is available, usually evening hours.

Producer a person or organization that controls the growing, manufacture, and financing of goods and services for sale to consumers.

Production the act of making, creating, or manufacturing; in agriculture, the process of growing or raising food products.

Program a plan or project.

Protein dietary substance used for building bone, muscle, skin, and other organs. In the form of enzymes, protein helps regulate body functions. Protein is concentrated in animal sources (meat, chicken, milk, eggs, cheese) as well as in a variety of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.


Recombinant DNA techniques methods used to rearrange or restructure genetic material through splicing or transplants from one organism to another.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) an estimate of the average amount of a nutrient needed in order to live a healthy, active life. RDAs differ for men and women, for different age groups, and for different levels of activity.

Runaway shops factories that leave one area to take advantage of low wages, low taxes, and a lack of governmental control over safety and health conditions in another area. Relocations occur either to other countries or to other parts of the same country.

Rupee the unit of currency in India, worth approximately 8 U.S. cents in March 1987.

Rural of the countryside; nonurban.


Scarcity a lack or shortage of something; not enough to go around; not enough for everyone who wants or needs it.

Self-reliant relying on oneself or one's own powers.

Self-sufficient able to exist and function without outside help.

Social inequity an injustice or unfairness found in society. It may be so widespread as to seem unavoidable or normal and may be built into social customs; racial segregation, for example.

Sorghum a grain-bearing plant similar in appearance to corn. Its stems also provide a sugar juice, like sugarcane. Sorghum is native to Africa and is drought-resistant.

Soybeans a crop plant that produces small yellow beans used in the production of food, animal feed, oils, paints, and other commercial products. Soybeans follow only wheat, rice, corn (maize), barley, and cassava in worldwide production.

Staple a basic or necessary item of food; the principal food consumed by a people.

Statistics facts or data about a place, person, population, or event.

Subsistence economy economy in which all goods produced are used to support the basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) of the local population.

Surplus food food produced and not sold; often deliberately kept in storage in order to keep prices artificially high. It may be sold or given away later. Enough surplus wheat alone is stored in the United States to give every person in the world seven loaves of bread.


Task force a group of people who are studying a particular issue. Usually they make recommendations about that issue.

Technology the application of certain scientific principles to solve problems.

Tenant a person who rents land or housing from another.

Third world generally refers to poorer countries of the world. The term emerged after World War II, during the "cold war" tension between Soviet and U.S. allies, to describe underdeveloped countries that could not be counted on either side.

Traditional culture customs, beliefs, and knowledge perceived to be consistent with the longstanding practice of past generations; conventions that are thought to be valuable because of their continuous history.

Traditional varieties those crops that have been developed through trial and error by an indigenous people over a long period of time; generally well suited to local environmental conditions.

Transnationals (transnational corporations, multinational corporations) corporations that recognize no national boundaries in their fields of operation, whether in production, financing, or sales. Such a company may manufacture pieces of its products in many different countries, assemble them in another, sell them in others, and finance them in still another.


Underdeveloped country a country in which there is little industrial development and which lacks the necessary resources or supply systems to provide its citizens with basic needs such as adequate transportation, energy, communication, food processing and storage, education, housing, and health care.
Undernutrition lack of sufficient nutritious food; can cause problems with physical and/or mental health.

Underpopulated a term used to describe an area with significantly fewer people than it could support.

Undocumented worker a person working in a country without the permission of that country's government.

Unemployment the state of being without work. Sometimes refers to"unemployment compensation," which is money paid to an unemployed person by a government for a specified period of time.

United Nations (UN) the international organization of nations formed under a permanent charter in 1945 in order to promote world peace and insure international cooperation in furthering social progress for all peoples.

Urban having to do with cities.


Welfare the condition of health, happiness, and prosperity. Often used to describe a government program of assistance that contributes towards fulfilling the basic needs of food, housing, and health care for the poor. See poverty line.

World Bank an organization started at the end of World War II to help finance the reconstruction of war-torn Europe. During the 1950s the World Bank shifted its focus to lending money for third world development projects. It makes long-term loans to underdeveloped countries at lower interest rates than private banks. The World Bank receives its money from 134 member countries. The president of the World Bank is selected by the president of the United States, so many actions of the World Bank reflect the political beliefs of the current U.S. president.


Yield the amount of a crop produced in a given area.