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Investigating the Global Food Trade

Investigating the Global Food Trade
Sean Carroll

Students investigate the banana trade to uncover issues related to global food systems.

Grade 5 started the new school year investigating the global food system. We started this inquiry by tracking a banana from the farm to our plate. Students learned about the different stops along the banana supply chain and some of the issues each group face. Students were surprised-and outraged- to learn that the banana farmer, despite the difficult and dangerous job, received very little money for their work. To help build empathy, and better understand the situation of small-scale farmers, we played a game where students worked to harvest and sell bananas. Halfway through the game we brainstormed some ways to make it easier or fairer for the farmers. This led to an investigation into Fair Trade. 

During this investigation, students were introduced to  a note-taking called "BBQ"- Boxes, Bullets, Questions.  This note-taking style is useful when working with information texts and videos and helps student uncover main ideas and supporting details. Students will use this through out the year.  Here is an example from a student's notebook.

To make connections on the global, national, local and personal level, we investigated how and where bananas in Japan are imported from. We followed that by brainstorming some pros and cons of importing food. Students then went home to discuss the idea with their parents and added new ideas to the list. Finally, we spent a little time researching online for any ideas we may have missed. As a next step, we will take a trip to the local markets to see where products come from and if fair trade products are available in Japan. We will ask ourselves, "What is our responsibility as consumers?"


Here are some photos of students at work throughout the first weeks.

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