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Hungry for greener thinking

Should a children's favourite take stock of his carbon footprint? Julia Horton reports

Should a children's favourite take stock of his carbon footprint? Julia Horton reports

He is famous for munching his way through a mountain of food, including fruits, cakes and sausage. But now the leading character in the children's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar has come under attack for his greed, in a new book aimed at encouraging youngsters to think about the environmental impact of what they eat.

Misson: Explore Food renames Eric Carle's popular character the Very Wasteful Caterpillar in reference to the trail of leftovers in his wake.

Daniel Raven-Ellison, of the award-winning teachers' and authors' group The Geography Collective, says: "The tale of the caterpillar munching its way through a fictional diet of a single sausage and 15 other kinds of food is one of waste. Clearly, Carle's caterpillar is not aware of its environmental impact, but kids should think about this forgotten side of the story."

The book features more than 300 activities, including one challenging young readers to investigate how long it takes for different types of food to waste away. Other missions challenge children to forage for food, identify endangered fish and try to map taste to their tongue.

The final pages are still being completed ahead of its launch, due to take place this spring at the Hay Literary Festival in England. Meanwhile, authors are appealing for help to pay for the publication of the book.

Supporters can give as little as pound;1. In return, they will get the chance to be depicted in caricature in the food missions. If the authors reach their fundraising target, they have pledged to give a digital version of the book to every school in the UK.

Schools can contribute to the publication fund by paying for The Geography Collective to give a Mission: Explore workshop or a presentation on food.

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