Bartering for Food – an elementary school cafeteria lesson

02 Apr

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.


Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Bartering for Food – an elementary school cafeteria lesson

  1. Anne

    April 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I’m just amazed the kids are allowed to trade food at school. I remember “up for grabs, down for keeps” at the lunch table at school growing up, but that’s not the case at my daughter’s school. Yesterday she brought a cutie to school for snack. She apparently had trouble peeling it and another student offered to help her. She was told by her teacher that she couldn’t help because they are not allowed to touch anyone else’s food. Huh?!

    • KSeed

      April 11, 2012 at 1:11 am

      Your comment has me asking questions. I am still researching the school’s policy, what’s really going on – from my kids and the school’s perspective. I’ll keep you updated on conclusions.


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