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Picture Your Plate Visual Geography Project

Objective: Students will analyze the Thanksgiving holiday meal through a visualization and documentation of their own practices, comparing the cultural interpretations of the holiday within America and globally, and analyzing the economic and environmental impact of food production.



Identify the characteristics of culture and the impacts of cultural beliefs on gender


roles,race, and ethnicity as they vary from one region to another, for example legal rights for women in the Middle East. Compare and contrast the consequences of differing cultural views of nature and use of


natural resources, including the development of a built environment from a natural environment. Compare the role that culture plays in incidents of cooperation and conflict, for example


cultural factors such as religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences. Explain the consequences of the current global trade systems for economic and


environmental sustainability in both importing and exporting countries, for example the impacts of overfishing on local ecosystems to meet foreign product demand. Explain the interaction between the delivery of goods and services and transportation and


communications networks, for example the hub and spoke systems used by air freight companies. Analyze and explain how globalization affects different functions of citizenship, for


example the need for one passport for members of the European Union. Analyze the relationships between the spatial distribution of humans and resources, for


example the positive and negative consequences of resource use as seen in the shrinking of the Aral Sea.

Students will start by documenting the contents of their plate on Thanksgiving day. It will include one course of one meal (ie. if you eat three plates full of food like Mr. Mewborne hopes to do, you are only required to document one plate). This will include both a photograph and brief description of the items on the plate. The photograph may be digital, but should be clear. Digital files that cannot be opened will not be accepted for credit.

Students will then answer the questions on the sheet provided. Some questions will come with a prompt that requires a bit of reading. Students should answer all questions to the best of their ability. Questions left blank or answered inappropriately will not receive full credit.

This activity is meant to prompt discussion, thought, and a greater understanding of the processes at work in our life. If there are any questions, please contact me by email at mmewborn@lexrich5.org. I will do my best to answer in a timely fashion.


Part I- Picture Your Plate

Directions: Photograph at least ONE plate of food during the celebration of Thanksgiving with your family. The photo may be submitted in physical or digital form, but must meet the following requirements to receive full credit (ten points). The picture of a meal is worth 4 points. The clarity of the shot is worth 2 points. The description of the items that accompanies the picture is worth 4 points.

If you do not have access to any camera on Thanksgiving day, including cell phone cameras, digital cameras, your district issued iPad, or film cameras, then you may submit a tasteful, high-quality drawing of your plate. You must contact Mr. Mewborne in advance to get permission to do this. 3 December is not in advance.

Part II- Thanksgiving Holiday

Directions: Read each prompt. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. Do not

leave any answers blank. As usual, “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer.

  • 1. Thanksgiving in America tends to celebrate the cooperation of Native American tribes and religious Pilgrims from England and the Netherlands settling in modern day Massachusetts. How does geography shape this story?

Geography shapes the Thanksgiving story in many ways. One of these ways is culture. The Indian culture came together with the European culture creating a new culture for both of the groups. Another aspect of geography that shaped this story is the place that the Europeans landed. They landed in a cold, northern part of the US so most of the Europeans died off in the first year that they were there. Also in the area that they landed most of the Indians didn't speak English, so it was very difficult for the two groups to communicate with each other. The food is also a geographical impact of the story. The first thanksgiving meal consisted so eel and deer, not your typical turkey and dressing, because the area they lived in was not abundant with turkey. They lived in a place where eel and deer were the popular meats.

  • 2. Given the course of events since that first Thanksgiving meal in the 1620s, how do you think different Americans celebrate or perceive the Thanksgiving holiday today? Be sure to note the role of geography in shaping different interpretations of the meaning of the celebration.

Thanksgiving is celebrated much differently in today's society then in the 1620's. Back then the people didn't sit around a big table inside a warm cozy house and eat all that they could without throwing up. They were probably scavenging up whatever food they could find and sharing it equally among each other while they were outside in the freezing cold winter of Massachusetts trying not to freeze to death. These different circumstances also make us perceive the thanksgiving holiday in different ways. We have so many luxuries that we take hem

for granted but the people back then were actually celebrating their arrival to the new world and the fact they they stayed alive long enough to find food and make friends.

  • 3. What types of food are “truly American”? Give evidence for your response.

I believe that the food that is truly American is corn. Corn was one of the first foods in America. It was one of the crops grown by the Native Americans. Another food that I think is American is the hamburger. If you go to any restaurant in America it will most likely have a hamburger. Also the hamburger is a cheap food that satisfies most Americans and that most Americans eat.

4. As those early, cold, starving Pilgrims must have thought, food production requires a great deal more than we might typically think. Time, money, and resources are used in producing single ingredients, let alone a full meal. Based on your documentation, choose ONE item on your plate to research, answering the following questions

  • a. How much do the ingredients for this dish cost? Ask a family member for an estimate, or get a list of ingredients and look online or in a local grocery store.

  • b. How long does this dish take to prepare and cook?

  • c. In what season do these ingredients typically grow/are harvested? For example, tomatoes are often summer crops, but kale or leaks grow better in the autumn or early spring.

  • d. Not everything grows in South Carolina. Where do these ingredients come from? Be as specific as possible (Southern California, or Asheville, North Carolina). Check the packaging or investigate online.

  • e. Given the cost of gasoline (see the link below), figure the approximate cost of fuel used to move the ingredients you chose to research to your location. You must show your math!

*the answer to this question is at the bottom of the page*

Information for figuring transportation cost for 4e:

  • 18 wheeler trucks get 5-10 miles per gallon. They can hold 200-300 gallons of

gasoline at a time. If we take the maximum numbers for both (300 gallons at 10 miles

per gallon), we get 3000 miles on a tank of gasoline.

Gasoline prices can be found at http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/. These are official government figures. Since these trucks move across the country, it is better to use national averages rather than the price at your local gas station.

For example, on 12 November 2012 gasoline averaged at 3.449 dollars per gallon. At

300 gallons, that means it cost $1,034.70 to fill the tank on an 18 wheeler. Interstate

  • 80 runs from the New York City metro area to San Francisco at around 2,900 miles in

length. I-95 runs the length of the east coast at around 1,900 miles. In other words, a

single tank could take a truck, in theory, across the country.

Highway measurements found via Wikipedia.


What does “thankfulness” mean to you and your family? How does this reflect your family’s culture (religion, history, fashion, tradition, social organization, etc.)? How does geography shape your perception of “thankfulness”?

Thankfulness to my family is mainly religion. My family is very religious and we value the freedom of religion in America very much. Another thing that defines thankfulness to us is tradition. We have a very traditional family on my dad's side and we are thankful that we can participate and continue in the traditions if our family.

  • 6. Based on your previous answers, and any additional research, what is the environmental impact of Thanksgiving? Give specific examples.

The thanksgiving holiday has many impacts on the earths environment. One of these impacts is pollution. Many people travel for the holidays and that causes excessive car exhaustion which leads to a greater amount of pollution in the world. Another impact on the environment is the amount of turkeys being prepared and killed. Turkey farmers know that people want big juicy turkeys for thanksgiving so they raise turkey's and inject them with steroids to make them larger. Since they do this, during this time of year there aren't many healthy living turkeys on earths surface. So overall the thanksgiving holiday has a negative impact on the environment.

Part II Rubric

Each question is worth up to three points. You get a point for each of the following:

appropriateness of response, clarity, and use of evidence/correctness. For appropriateness, the response must adequately address the question. For clarity, it must be free from major and/or distracting errors. For evidence/correctness, a reason must be given that is factual or demonstrates logic behind the answer.

Questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are worth up to three points for a total of 15 points. On question 4, each letter warrants up to three points for a total of 15 points. There are 30 points possible for this portion of the assignment.

#4 pumpkin pie

  • A. This dish costs about 30 dollars to make

  • B. This dish takes about 45 minutes to cook

  • C. Pumpkins are planted in the summer and harvested in the fall

  • D. The pumpkins were grown in Solon, OH (665 miles away)

  • E. $214.06

#4 pumpkin pie A. This dish costs about 30 dollars to make B. This dish takes
#4 pumpkin pie A. This dish costs about 30 dollars to make B. This dish takes

Food description:


Sweet tea, mashed potatoes with gravy, gluten free brownie with chocolate chips, turkey and gravy, creamed corn, home-made bread with butter, pumpkin pie with whipped cream