Vocabulary – Talking About Food

Chinju-! (Brute) Ryo Shouting to puccci!? on Harajuku JIngubashi
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Are you a teacher?

Can you teach English?

Can you teach it at some level?

Food, Clothing and Shelter

Developing Vocabulary is a good theme for English teachers. Food, clothing and shelter are universal human needs. They are good areas to focus vocabulary development. Let’s look at food:


Food is what we eat. We eat food. We need to eat food to live. We can analyse food. We can identify food groups. Let’s look at some food groups:

meat, fruit and vegetables, grains, fish, dairy products

These are basic food groups. They are natural products.

Where do they come from?


Meat comes from animals. There are also meat substitutes. Beans are a good meat substitute.

Are you a vegetarian?

Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables
are products from plants. A plant has a roots, a stem and leaves, flowers and a fruit.

Some fruits are fruits.

Some fruits are vegetables. The eggplant is the fruit of the eggplant. The pumpkin gourd is the fruit of the pumpkin vine. The zucchini or courgette is the fruit of the zucchini plant. The

Some vegetables are leaves. Cabbages are bunches of leaves.

What is your favourite leaf vegetable?

Some fruits are flowers.Broccoli is the flower of the broccoli plant.


The word grain has several meanings. A grain is actually a seed in some contexts. A grain of rice is a seed of rice.

We use the word grain to describe many small objects in a class, for example a grain of salt or a grain of sand, although products are not fruits or vegetables or even plants.

Grains are the seeds (or fruits) of grass plants like wheat, rice, barley, maize, corn, rye, hops. These plants also produce alcohol. They produce bread and they produce alcohol.

Do you abstain from alcohol?

Do you prefer rice or bread?

Nowadays many people in post-modern multicultural societies eat rice and bread.

Do you ever eat rice and bread together or do you usually eat them separately?

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The Story of Bread

Bread can be a metaphor for food. At some point in history the development of agriculture and the production of grains and cereal for bread caused increases in population. The abundance of food allowed specialisation of labour. Population increased and people became more specialised and sophisticated, and cities began to grow. This process is called civilisation. It is a gradual process from natural or traditional lifestyles to a civilised modern lifestyle in cities.

Nowadays bread is a metaphor for food and also a metaphor for money.

What do you do for a crust?

Link to the Bread page

Rice comes from the rice plant – grains of rice, rice grains

Wheat comes from the wheat plant – ears of wheat, grains of wheat

Maize comes from the maize plant- stalks of maize

Corn comes from the corn plant – ears of corn, stalks of corn, grains of corn

We can make the opposites:

civilised – wild

civilised – traditional

Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, cream, butter and yoghurt are dairy products. They are made from cow’s milk.

The Right to Food

Food is a basic human right.


If we do not have food, clothing and shelter, we will die.

If we did not have food, clothing and shelter we would die.

If people do not have food, they starve. They can starve to death. This is a terrible tragedy. If many people have no food, it is called a famine.

Is famine common in Africa?

Food and Health

It is important to have a balanced diet. Healthy food and exercise provide nutrition. All humans need this. There is a strong connection between diet (food) and health.

Food Security

If the supply of food is at risk, we worry about food security. Food supply can be threatened by war, natural disaster or health issues. It can also be threatened by economic issues.

Is genetically-modified food always clearly labelled?

Link to video about genetically modified food.

Tell us about food production in your country.

Do you eat a lot of imported food?

What food does your country export?

Describe the process of producing one food product in your country.

Choose from the list:



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