Food was a form of money in some earlier societies. People traded tobacco, salt, grain, fish, rice, olive oil, tea, and other edible goods. But commodities like hot tea were replaced by cold cash. Check this great article.
Here in Indy, you can join Indy Food Swappers. They describe themselves as: ‘an Indianapolis-based, free food swap, striving to inspire creativity, build community, and spread good cheer. We trade homemade items and enjoy the company of new and old friends.’ How fun!
But, you’ll be amazed what I’ve learned about bartering in my kids’ cafeteria. See, my kids take a packed lunch daily…. for a couple of reasons: 1) daughter can’t get full enough on the school lunch 2) they are all picky and 3) there are lots of rules at the fresh fruit/veggie table – don’t get me started.
They all are required to pack a protein and at least one fruit and one veggie in their lunch. Recently, I started buying mini watermelons (I know that they aren’t quite in season here locally, but my youngest (and pickiest) eater loves watermelon). I cut it into wedges and send two or three slices in each of their lunches.
Today they told me that they each need an additional slice. My first thought was ‘what great eaters I have’. Only later did I find out that the extra slice is for bartering at the lunch room table! Apparently, watermelon has a huge barter value – especially when it is prettily cut into wedges.
After asking some probing questions, I learned that there are obvious high-value barter items – the type you would expect – cheetos, doritos, desserts, etc. But what I also learned is that fruit – specifically fresh strawberries and watermelon are worth A LOT!
Here’s what I’ve learned: pack plenty of fruit. I don’t care if my kids or others eat it. I’m just really happy to hear that it is so valuable.