Video Media: The Next Great Frontier of Food and Nutrition Education

Ask people of a certain age about video in the classroom, and they will recall anemic film strips with tones alerting the teacher when to advance to the next slide. If they were really lucky, they were treated to the occasional 8mm movie with stuttering audio that sounds like it was recorded underwater, the film periodically halting when it melted to the light bulb.

My, how times have changed. Within the span of a generation, the educational potential of video has exploded, empowering people of all ages with the opportunity to attain vast amounts of knowledge, and also to create their own content.

But the dizzying array of sites and sources can be a little intimidating, to say the least. Why should this matter to food and nutrition communicators? Video is quickly becoming the next frontier of education, and food and nutrition is no exception.

Without a doubt, YouTube has enormous power to shape conversations around food and nutrition. Currently the third most popular website in the world behind Google and Facebook, according to Alexa.com, calling YouTube the “800-pound gorilla” of video isn’t fair; it is more like King Kong. YouTube has about 50 percent more viewers than the three major U.S. network television newscasts combined, visited by the equivalent of one-seventh of the world population (that’s over 1 billion people) every month.

In addition to YouTube, two major video content providers are Vimeo and Facebook, the latter of which many organizations use to showcase their video content. More great food and nutrition information can be found among the bumper crop of streaming Internet video providers, including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant VideoHulu, and VUDU.

Finding Science-Based Food & Nutrition Video Content

As is all too common these days, some video content impresses with its polish and strikes our emotions, but doesn’t have science on its side. The reality these days is that you don’t have to be an expert to make a believable video that can go “viral” in a matter of minutes. The good news is that the science is there to be found.

IFIC Foundation’s FoodInsightTV is one such place to find science-based, consumer-friendly food safety and nutrition video content, including interviews with top experts, consumer insights, safe-food handling information, and most recently, an animated video on modern farming and food production.  Others are also using video to highlight the work of today’s farmers, such as the Peterson brothers in their video, “I’m Farming and I Grow It,” which uses lyrics set to a popular song to provide a humorous and memorable way to teach people about farming.

To help you navigate the sometimes murky video waters, IFIC Foundation has provided, in no particular order, a baker’s dozen of YouTube channels and other sites with science-based food and nutrition-related content we think are worth checking out.

13 Fact-Based Food & Nutrition Video Sources

USDAFoodSafety: This channel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service features a vast array of consumer-friendly videos about food safety and safe food-handling practices, many of which are in Spanish – and even American Sign Language.

USDAFoodAndNutrition: The USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s site presents a selection of videos and webinars, with a special focus on federal food and nutrition programs.

EatRightProTV: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ channel is a helpful resource for registered dietitians, in particular.

ASNMarketing: The channel of the American Society for Nutrition features videos related to nutrition science and research.

ILSIGlobal: The International Life Sciences Institute’s videos, which are more technical in nature, are aimed at academia, industry, and government audiences.

IFTLive: This channel of the Institute of Food Technologists is aimed at those in food science, food technology, and related professions.

JIFSANTraining: The Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, a program of the FDA and the University of Maryland, focuses on food safety, human nutrition, and animal health and production. Its mission includes research, education, and outreach. (See the related “CFSAN” below.)

FoodSafety.gov: This website aggregates food safety video content from federal agencies, along with the Partnership for Food Safety Education, of which the IFIC Foundation is a partner.

FDA/CFSAN training videos: This page features videos with an international bent from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, a scientific regulatory agency.

ACSH: The website of the American Council on Science and Health has numerous science-based videos about food and nutrition, and also other broader health topics.

iTunesU:  An app-based spin-off of iTunes, content is organized like coursework, with videos supplemented by documents and other materials. A word of caution: You can find science-based information, as well as misleading information here, too; therefore, we recommend checking a science-based source for accuracy before using.

The Internet Archive: A treasure trove of film and videos since the dawn of the moving image, the Internet Archives’ offerings include food and nutrition topics. This website is especially a must for history buffs. (Interested in “Wartime Nutrition”? Then you’ve come to the right place.)

TED: TEDTalks feature some of the world’s greatest thought leaders sharing their greatest experiences and advice in an 18-minute talk. New TEDTalks are posted each weekday. Content spans the full spectrum of topics and are organized into playlists. Some that may be of interest include “Ideas for Healthier Cities,” “Education Ideas from Unlikely Places,” and “Great talks about talking.” A word of caution: You can find science-based information, as well as misleading information here, too; therefore, we recommend checking a science-based source for accuracy before using.

Next month we will explore a few strategies and best practices for budding broadcasters looking to find audiences for their own educational offerings. Until then, happy browsing!

Return to current issue.