Weekly Warm-Up: Chocolate Treats for Fair-Trade Month

How far do your students travel without ever leaving home?

Well, what sort of products do they rely on? From bowls of cereal, toothpaste, and sneakers, to smartphones, e-readers, and video game consoles, your students are a vital part of multiple global trading networks.

Challenge your students to consider the journey behind everyday products with our Interdependence and You activity. By researching the path of bananas, chocolate, or coffee, what can your students learn about our interconnected world? What social, economic, and environmental factors are at play to produce something as basic as sugar?

Picture of fair-trade chocolate bars

Fair trade chocolate bars support fair wages, sustainable farming practices, and safe working conditions.
Photograph by Hajime NAKANO, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-2.0

Sadly, many popular goods begin with child labor, extreme poverty, and environmentally destructive practices. Fair-trade standards aim to identify and promote goods produced using fair prices, sustainable farming practices, and safe working conditions. The movement is among a long history of efforts to influence business practices by empowering the consumer. Can your students make connections between the fair-trade movement and other historic movements, such as the spread of organized labor in the United States?

Ask your class to consider how much they value certain goods. Could they live without chocolate? (A cruel fate, if you ask me!) But if the dessert mainstay is so essential, why do many cocoa farmers receive less than $2 a day?

To spread the word about exploitation in the chocolate industry, your students don’t have to bum out their friends (or their taste buds). This Halloween, they can try “reverse trick-or-treating”—going door-to-door to pass out fair-trade chocolate with educational inserts.

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: This Day in Geographic History: First Fair-Trade Label Launched

Nat Geo: Interdependence and You

Nat Geo: The Numbers Behind Child Labor

Nat Geo: Geography of a Pencil

Nat Geo: The Trading Game

Fairtrade America: Fair Trade Month

World Watch Institute: “Reverse Trick-or-Treaters” Deliver Fair Trade Chocolate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s