Students will learn about the processes that different raw materials follow to be turned into pizza ingredients such as cheese, tomato sauce, and pork.

Target Grade Level / Age Group



90 Minutes


  • String Cheese for each student (optional)
  • Dry erase board and marker
  • How cheese is made Video

Essential Files:


  • Production: The step in the food supply chain that involves growing plants and raising animals to be used to make goods.
  • Processing: The step in the food supply chain that involves cleaning and modifying. In agriculture, the alteration or modification, for the purpose of storage, transport, or sale, of an agricultural product.
  • Distribution: The step in the food supply chain that involves selling, marketing, and transporting goods to stores, other businesses, and consumers.
  • Natural Resources: Materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water and fertile land that occur in nature.

Background – Agriculture Concepts

Growing food and moving it from farm to fork involves several steps and many hands. In a highly efficient, modern agricultural system, like we have in the United States, the following steps take place during food production:

  • Production or Growing – Raising plants and animals for the raw ingredients. Production happens on different types of farms including livestock farms and ranches, vegetable farms and greenhouses, orchards, etc. The production step involves    
    • Preparation (getting ready to grow)
    • Growing
    • Harvesting
    • Transportation (moving food from the farm)
  • Processing – Turning the raw ingredients into the food products that are purchased by consumers.
    • Processing
    • Packaging
    • Storage
  • Distribution – Marking and distributing the food products to restaurants, grocery stores, schools, etc.
    • Marketing and sales  
    • Transportation
    • Consumption (preparing and consuming the food)

Each step also involves many people, including bankers, agricultural suppliers, farmers and farm workers, truck drivers, food handlers, government inspectors, millers, bakers, and chefs. Weather conditions, energy price and availability, storage facilities, and transportation problems can all affect this food system.

In this lesson, students will use a provided list of websites and documents to learn how ingredients for making pizza are grown, processed, and distributed. Below is a brief overview of the production process for meat, dairy, grain, and vegetable ingredients.    

Meat Ingredients: Farmers raise livestock (farm animals), including cattle, pigs, and poultry for meat. Farmers carefully control what the animals eat. The farmers work with veterinarians and animal nutritionists to keep their animals healthy. Hamburger comes from beef cattle and sausage, pepperoni, ham and other pork products come from pigs. Chickens and turkeys are popular sources of protein and iron and are low in fat, calories and cholesterol. And, of course, chickens provide us with eggs.

Dairy Ingredients: Farmers raise dairy cows to provide us with milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Milk is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals – especially calcium. Milk is also rich in potassium and vitamin B12. Vitamin D is also added to milk to help with the absorption of calcium.

Only female dairy cows produce milk. Cows are milked 2-3 times per day by milking machines or even automated milking robots. Milk is transported from the farm to the cheese processor in refrigerated taker trucks. To make cheese, the milk is homogenized, pasteurized and bacteria culture is added.

Grain Ingredients: Wheat is a grain crop and popular for the flour ground and used for pizza crust. Wheat is also a livestock feed. Some oat and rye grain are also used for flour. Corn and soybeans are used for feed for livestock and for many products for humans. Most vegetable oil is made from soybeans. Cornmeal is often used to coat the bottom of the crust. It keeps it from sticking to the pan and provides a crisp, crunchy texture. Corn starch is used by frozen pizza companies to keep the crust from becoming soggy. It provides a barrier between the sauce and the curst that prevents water and keeps the rust crisp. 

Vegetable, Fruit & Herbs Ingredients: Fruit, vegetables, and herbs come from various parts of plants. Flowering plants have six main parts—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Examples of pizza ingredients from each plant part include:

  • Roots: carrots 
  • Stems: onions, garlic
  • Leaves: spinach, arugula, basil, oregano, thyme
  • Flowers: artichokes, broccoli,
  • Fruits: peppers, olives, tomatoes, pineapple, eggplant
  • Seeds:  black pepper and dried red pepper
  • Vegetables are grown in all 50 states, but locations with warm climates like California and Florida produce the most vegetables for commercial sale.


Activity 1: The Journey of Cheese (60 minutes)

  1. As a class, read the My Family’s Dairy Farm book. Allow students to view the photos and make observations.
  2. Refer to the list of ingredients and things that were needed to make cheese and where the milk and cheese traveled before it got to the school. Refer to the list of places where the milk and cheese went. Add anything new to the list.
  3. Next, explain that the My Family’s Dairy Farm book focused mostly on the production aspect of producing milk for cheese. Ask students what that word means to them. Then discuss how production is a part of agriculture.
    1. Production is the step in the food supply chain that involves growing plants and raising animals to be used to make food and other goods. Production involves everything that happens on the farm, as well as the people that farmers work with to raise crops and livestock and run their business.  
  4. There are two other steps in the food supply chain that were briefly mentioned in the book.   They include processing and distribution.
    1. Processing includes making the milk into cheese and packaging it for distribution.   
    2. Distribution includes the transportation of cheese, marketing, and sales.
  5. Watch the How Cheese Is Made video to learn more about the process of making cheese.  Ask students to pay close attention to the people, places, and things needed to make cheese.
  6. After the video, give the class time to add additional people, places, and things to the class list.
  7. As a class, fill out the Timeline of cheese worksheet to review all the steps that happen to make cheese for a pizza.
    1. For example
      1. Crops are grown and harvested.
      2. Harvested crops are fed to dairy cattle.
      3. Dairy cattle are milked, and milk is collected.
      4. Milk is processed to be made into cheese.
      5. Finished cheese is sent to restaurants and grocery stores for people to use and buy.
      6. Cheese is used to make foods like grilled cheese and pizza!
  8. Next, place the images from the cheese steps worksheet on the board. Under each item work as a class to create a list of people, places and things used in each step.


Activity 2: Soil to Slice Connections (30 minutes)

  1. Review the main concepts about producing pizza ingredients.
    1. Nearly all pizza ingredients come from plants or animals raised on farms.
    2. Natural resources are needed to produce pizza and other food and household products. Natural resources (sun, soil, water, air, plants and animals).
    3. The growing, processing, and distributing of food is called the food supply chain. It has three parts:
      1. Production involves raising plants and animals for the raw ingredients. Production happens on different types of farms including livestock farms and ranches, vegetable farms and greenhouses, orchards, etc.
      2. Processing is the process of turning the raw ingredients into the food products that are purchased by consumers. Processing may include cleaning, cooking, cutting, packaging, and more.  
      3. Distribution includes marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, grocery stores, schools, etc.
  2. As a class complete the Pizza ingredients natural resources worksheet.
  3. For each resource walk through the steps for each item as a class and have students fill in the worksheet as you go.
    1. Example
      1. Tomatoes are plants so they need seeds to be planted to grow -> tomatoes seeds are planted in soil -> those seeds need sunlight to grow -> in addition to sunlight the tomato plants also need water -> ripe tomatoes are harvested and used to make sauce for pizza.
      2. Cheese is made from milk which comes from dairy cattle -> dairy cattle are fed crops that were grown in soil -> farmers milk the cattle and collect the milk -> the milk is heated to begin making cheese. Burning gas is one way to create heat.
      3. Pork comes from pigs -> pigs are fed grain which comes from plants -> the pigs continue to eat and grow until they reach market weight -> the pigs are loaded onto a truck which is powered by gas -> the pigs are harvested, and the meat is collected -> the meat is cooked using heat.

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • T1.K-2.c. Identify natural resources
  • T2.K-2.b. Identify animals involved in agricultural production and their uses (i.e., work, meat, dairy, eggs)
  • T5.K-2.c. Identify places and methods of exchange for agricultural products in the local area
  • T5.K-2.e.Identify the people and careers involved from production to consumption of agricultural products

Iowa Core Standards


  • RL.K.1. With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • RL.K.3. With prompting and support, identify characters, settings and major events in a story.
  • RL.1.1. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • RL.1.3. Describe characters, settings and major events in a story, using key details.
  • RL.2.1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, when, why and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text
  • RL.2.7. Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
  • SL.2.2. Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or though other media.