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Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

North Carolina Agriculture in the Classroom

Companion Resource

Higher or Lower: Ingredient Investigation

A "Price is Right" style activity designed to help illustrate the sugar and salt content found in processed foods. This activity can supplement nutrition and food processing lessons.

  • Several food item containers (with Nutrition Fact labels)
    • Examples: ketchup, canned soup, soft drinks, juice boxes, canned vegetables or fruit, frozen desserts, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, etc.
  • Notecards, 2 per student

Background Information:

Food ingredients such as salt, sugar, and additional fats are often added to foods consumed daily. Many people are unaware of the way these ingredients affect their diet. Reading and understanding a food label can help consumers make healthier dietary choices.

Recommended Daily Intake of sodium and sugar based on a 2,000 calorie diet is:

  • Sodium-2300 mg (0.4 teaspoons)
    • Sodium is required for nerve and muscle functioning
    • Too much sodium can damage kidneys and cause high blood pressure
    • The average American's salt intake: 2-3 teaspoons a day (4,000-6,000 mg) or twice the recommended intake 
  • Sugar-8 teaspoons (32 grams) added sugar
    • Good sugars occur naturally in some food (fruits, vegetables, dairy products) and supply key nutrients
    • The average American's sugar intake is 20 teaspoons a day (80 grams) (2.5 times the recommended)

Activity Procedures:


  1. Place several food items on a table (see foods listed in Materials).
  2. Determine the amount of salt or sugar in each food (the entire package).
    • Students can better visualize the amount of salt and sugar in each package if the measurement is converted to teaspoons. Use the following to convert the measurements.
      • Sodium will be listed in milligrams. Use the Table Salt Conversion tool multiply the number of milligrams by 0.00012.
      • Sugar will be listed in grams. Divide the number of grams by 4.
  3. Lay a card in front of each item and label each with an incorrect amount of sugar or sodium. (Choose a number that is higher or lower.) Keep a record of the correct amount somewhere where the students cannot see it.


  1. Divide students up into two teams.
  2. Call the students down in groups of two and play as though you are the host of The Price Is Right. Each student should have two cards-one that says “higher” and one the says “lower.” Read the card for one item and have the students guess whether the answer is higher or lower than the correct answer. They should hold up their answer at the same time.
  3. After each answer is given, read the correct answer. 
  4. Discuss how much sugar and salt is actually in each food item. For added effect, measure out the amount of salt or sugar in each item and place it in a clear bowl for them to see.
  5. Give each correct answer 5 points. Keep track of the points for each team. 
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom
Lessons Associated with this Resource