5th Grade Banana Trade Inquiry
What Is the Real Cost of Bananas?
Download Entire Inquiry Here

Staging the Compelling Question

To introduce the compelling question in this inquiry, teachers might ask groups of students groups to brainstorm lists of food and other products found in their homes that are typically imported from other countries. They should consider why we purchase items from other countries and the potential pros and cons of doing so.

Supporting Question 1- Where do bananas come from?
  • Source A: Pedro Arias, Pascal Liu, Cora Dankers, and Paul Pilkauskas, charts of Latin American banana production, “The World Banana Economy,” 2003

  • Source B: Outline map of Central and South America
Supporting Question 2-What do corporations in the banana industry contribute to society?
  • Source A: The Chiquita Corporation, essay on the history of the company, and statement on food safety (excerpts), “Our Story,” 2014

  • Source B: Pedro Arias, Pascal Liu, Cora Dankers, and Paul Pilkauskas, table of top three banana corporations in the United States, 2003
Supporting Question 3-What are fair-trade bananas?
  • Source A: Fairtrade International, description of banana production, “Bananas” (excerpts), 2011
  • Source B: Equal Exchange, description of farmer-run cooperative in Ecuador, “El Guabo,”
Supporting Question 4- What are the working conditions like for children in the banana industry?
  • Source A: Source bank: Child labor and the banana industry
  • Source B: Human Rights Watch, description of labor abuse on banana plantations, “Ecuador: Widespread Labor Abuse on Banana Plantations” (excerpts), Human Rights Watch, 2002

New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices 5.7 ECONOMICS: The people of the Western Hemisphere have developed various ways to meet their needs and wants. Many of the countries of the Western Hemisphere trade with each other as well as with other countries around the world.
 Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence     Geographic Reasoning     Comparison and Contextualization