The Choice is Yours

Academic Content Standard
(Social Studies: Economics:  Grade 6):  “Students in sixth-grade are introduced to the fundamental questions of economics: what to produce, how to produce it and for whom to produce it. Students will understand that limitations on resources force individuals and societies to make choices around these fundamental questions. Decisions about for whom to produce are often based on demand and means of distribution.”

(Note: Key terms used from the Ohio Academic Content Standards, Grade 6 Social Studies Model Curriculum Development, March, 2011.)

Discussion points

  1. The author of this article states that the “variety of products on (grocery store) shelves can be mindboggling.”  Have you, the consumer, come to expect this variety in the grocery? Was such a variety of food available to consumers 50 years ago?
  2. Labels on food products give a great deal of information to the consumer.  What do the following words on labels mean? Organic? Grain-fed? Cage-free?
  3. According to the summary statement of this article, who has the power to dictate what ends up on grocery shelves, the consumer or the farmers that raise the food?
  4. If consumers want to know about how their food is produced, what does this article state needs, and in many cases does happen?
  5. If a farmer, the producer, produces a food that consumers do not want, what are the consequences?
  6. The first example of a way farmers responded to consumer demand is the pork industry and “The Other White Meat” campaign.  What was the goal of this campaign for those who produce pork products? Was it a successful campaign?
  7. What are two of the ways farmers changed their production practices to meet consumer demand in the pork industry?
  8. Did these changes also affect the amount of money farmers earned for their product?
  9. What is trans fat and why is it not desirable in our food products?
  10. How did the soybean industry change to regain the market shares that it lost to other oils that didn’t have trans fat?
  11. Who do you think worked to research and develop a new variety of soybean that does not need to be hydrogenated and therefore has little trans fat?
  12. Are soybean researchers already planning for consumers’ preferences of the future? Explain.
  13. How can the color of cattle make any difference to a person who buys beef in the grocery store?  Use the article’s information about Angus beef to answer this question.
  14. Why do consumers think Angus beef is better than other types of beef? From where do you think they get their information.
  15. Explain the goals of “quality assurance programs” and what that assurance means to the consumer.
  16. How can the producers of food make sure that their food is safe, high quality and consistent?
  17. List the three quality assurance programs noted in the article.
  18. Consumer demands can be broad, for example, everyone wants eggs. Other consumers demand very specific types of food or specific ways food is prepared.  What are these specific markets called?
  19. Provide examples of specific food products demanded by consumers, according to the article.
  20. Consumers who demand specific products have to be willing to pay more for these products. Why?
  21. The article states that the most important aspect of a consumer driven market is what?
  22. Do you think that farmers and food processors do a good job of responding to consumer demand? Explain.

Hands on at Home or School

  1. This article refers to labeling on food products in the grocery store.  Research what the FDA requires on food labels by searching the Internet “FDA food labeling laws.”
  2. On your next visit to the grocery store, look in the meat department for meat labeled with the words: grain-fed and cage-free.
  3. Do you think there will be a difference in cost for these products?
  4. List ways that you, a consumer, can find out more about where your food comes from and how it is produced.
  5. This article identified a few ways that food producers responded to consumer demands.  Can you think of other changes in the food industry that were initiated because of consumer demands? 
  6. “The Other White Meat” slogan has served the pork industry well. Now, visit the National Pork Producers website and explore the new slogan.
  7. What do you think of the new slogan?
  8. What is the goal of the new slogan?
  9. Visit to see how the soybean industry is promoting low-linolenic soybeans.  What do you think of the information you found there?
  10. Go to What can you learn from this Web-Site?
  11. Explore the following quality assurance programs on the Internet. For each program, list the procedures and standards that farmers must adhere to in order to be in the program.
  12. Pork Quality Assurance:
  13. Ohio Signature Beef:
  14. Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program:
  15. The article mentions exotic food such as truffles, pawpaws and goat cheese. Where might a consumer purchase these items?  Are they expensive?
  16. Do you know of any religious belief or cultural belief that might require a different type of food or special way food is prepared?  Explain.


This student activity was prepared by Camille Kopczewski, who is coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City. She is a former sixth grade social studies teacher for South-Western City Schools. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.