Could chocolate help our kids become better global citizens? Believe it or not, it can. It all depends on how the cocoa is grown, how it's bought and sold, and what our children are taught about this favorite treat. When the cocoa is sourced one way—from organic farms and bought on "fair trade" terms—chocolate can actually help our children grow into better-informed, more conscientious global citizens. Produced another way, chocolate might offer nothing more than empty calories for your family and trouble for cocoa-growing communities in tropical countries.
How can children learn these lessons from chocolate? Equal Exchange, a pioneer in fair trade, introduced a school curriculum focused on the subject with an emphasis on the small-scale farmers who grow most of the world's cocoa—chocolate's key ingredient. Included in the curriculum are inspiring firsthand accounts from farmers and fair traders, photos from cocoa-farming communities, role-playing games, hands-on projects, exercises for kids to start their own co-operative, as well as math, art, and social studies, all designed to meet national teaching standards.
The 16-unit curriculum, appropriate for grades four through nine, covers:
- Where food comes from, hunger, child labor
- What is fair trade? How is cocoa grown, bought, and sold?
- What is cooperative economics? How do cooperatives promote fairness?
- Activities to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and carry out projects
Equal Exchange (www.equalexchange.com) works with schools nationwide through its unique fundraising program, in which schools, to raise money for their own programs, sell fair-trade products instead of wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions.
What Is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is an equitable trading partnership in which companies negotiate directly with the growers and producers of products such as coffee, chocolate, and sugar. It contributes to sustainable development by securing the rights of otherwise marginalized producers and workers. Companies agree to pay a price and follow procedures that meet the needs of small growers, regardless of fluctuations in world markets.