Science project

Rainforest Feast; Investigating how Foods are Grown in the Rainforest

Difficulty of Project



Less than $50

Safety Issues


Material Availability

All material can be found at local grocery stores or office supply stores

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

1 week 


In this research project, students will learn what and how foods are grown in rainforests and if there are sustainable methods that can be used.  

Materials and Equipment / Ingredients

  • Rainforest foods such as bananas, coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, tea etc.
  • Photos related to research
  • Display board
  • Colored paper 


Coffee, bananas, chocolate and cinnamon and many other foods found in most any U.S. household originally came from rainforests. These foods are relatively cheap and easy to find in any grocery store. Their popularity, however, has serious harmful effects on the rainforests. Many farming methods involve clear-cutting or burning the forest and using toxic chemicals, causing a chain reaction of damage. For this project students investigate how these rainforest foods are farmed and find where and how people are implementing more sustainable farming methods.  
Research Questions
  • What is a rainforest?
  • Where are the foods grown?
  • How are the foods grown?
  • What damage is caused (beyond the cutting of trees) to the rainforest habitat when clearing methods are used to farm? Do these practices harm the soil, surrounding habitat, animals or local people?
  • What are the benefits of clearing forest land – why is it done?
  • Are there global consequences for clearing rainforest land?
  • What are the benefits of using more sustainable farming methods to the habitat and to the local people? Are there any cons to using such methods?
  • What organizations are working to develop sustainable farming practices? 
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
  • Sustainable agriculture – using farming and cultivation methods that minimize adverse affects on the local habitat and environment so that the land can be used indefinitely
  • Clear cutting – where all trees are systematically cut to clear the land for agricultural purposes
  • Burning – where a section of the rainforest is set on fire to clear the land for agricultural purposes 

Experimental (Research) Procedure

  • Choose at least one food grown in rainforests to research in depth.
  • Research and profile how that food is, or once was, farmed using methods detrimental to the rainforest.
  • Research what poor farming practices can do to a forest and beyond. Create a visual chain on colored paper depicting how non-sustainable farming methods affect the forest starting with removal of the trees. In the middle of the chain put a picture of a rainforest being burned or clear-cut. From this middle picture, have arrows pointing to different problems associated with this.
  • Research and profile alternative farming methods that are more sustainable and successful.
  • Have several examples of foods that come from rainforests to display and taste. From your research, give information on how someone shopping for bananas or chocolate (for example) can help encourage better farming practices in the rainforest. 


Rainforest Action Network: Food from Rainforests

Rainforest Alliance: Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture

Save the Rainforest

UC Davis: What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Overview of Sustainable Coffee

Focus Conservation Fund

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