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Story of a Salad Sandwich

How many seeds does it take to make a salad sandwich? Maybe more than you think.

Have you eaten a sandwich lately? I bet it had some salad ingredients on it like lettuce, tomato, cucumber or avocado. What type of bread was it made with? It’s likely that your bread was made from a very well-known seed called wheat.

For thousands of years, farmers have grown three main plants whose seeds make up most of our diet. All over the world, people are sustaining themselves with either one of the below, or a combination of all three.  

They are: 

  • Wheat (Triticum aestivum
  • Rice (Oryza sativa
  • Maize (Zea mays) which we know as corn 

Which ones of these have you eaten today? This week? Can you name three popular meals that are made using these seeds? For example, you can’t make tacos without corn! 

 View the image gallery below and “get to know” these three common seeds in more detail.  

It’s not just these three crops that satisfy our hunger – think about all the fruit and vegetables we buy from our fruit markets or enjoy in restaurants… burgers, chips, pizzas, lemonade - these foods all start with plants and those plants start with a seed.  

Farming strategies have changed over time. One of the first strategies humans had was to forage for wild plants and animals. Over time, they developed ways of planting crops, originally simple methods of planting cereal and root crops then to storing seeds for planting in the spring. 

Bread has a long history in agriculture and for many people
today is still their main daily feed.

These days, agriculture is very different. Farms are businesses and they produce our food on a very large scale, a long way from our homes - so far that few people ever see it happening. Modern agriculture also involves cool technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to ‘keep an eye’ on the growing crops. These technologies allow businesses to be more efficient with water and make more money from their crops by growing as much as possible on their land. Next time you eat a sandwich, have a think about the robots who controlled the huge machines responsible for cutting your wheat.  


See some of the huge machines here. While you’re watching, see if you can spot some seeds, fruits and vegetables you know. You’re sure to see a few you can name!


Activities - Story of a salad sandwich

1. Seed needs

Do you know what a seed needs? To grow successfully into an edible plant, seeds have three needs. Use Think, Pair, Square and Share to decide what they are. Hint: something wet, something warm and something airy.  

2. Eating plants

Today, about 85% of our calorie intake comes from just 20 different species of plants. What are those plants we seem to be eating a lot of? Could you list all 20? You know that the top three are wheat, rice and maize. Try to guess the other 17. Then, compare your answer to the 'Plants Australians Eat' activity sheet.

3. What's in a salad sandwich

View the ingredients found in a salad sandwich below and match them to the sentence stems.
Then, test your knowledge by finishing the sentence stems (write the full sentence in your writing book). Extra points if you can identify more than one seed in the bread picture!

4. Seeds and animals

We’re not the only ones that eats seeds! Seeds feed us, but also other animals.
Make a list of all the animals that you know eat seeds (hint: who has a pet budgie at home?) 


5. Sorting seeds

Get to know differences in seeds by sorting and classifying a packet of bird seed by their size, shape and colour. If you can’t find bird seed, try using a packet of soup mix with lentils, beans and other seeds. Use this table to help you classify and sort the seeds.  

Seed Size Shape Colour

6. Spotlight on a salad sandwich!

Use the salad sandwich ingredients to do some further research. Answer the following questions for each ingredient. 

  • What does the plant look like? 
  • Where on the plant do the seeds grow? 
  • Do people eat the seeds? Yes/No 
  • If people do eat the seed, is it safe to eat it raw or does it need to be cooked? 

Then, choose your favourite edible seed and ask yourself how the seed is grown. Find out as much as you can about the agricultural practices used to grow it for human consumption. Once you know how it is grown today in modern times, investigate how it was grown in the past.  

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