Sweet! Students’ study of food system leads them to Seattle chocolate maker

Students from Soundview School pass around cocoa beans at Theo Chocolate, including Mackey Guenther, in blue coat, and twin brother Jacob (two students to the left), both from Edmonds.

Students at Lynnwood-based Soundview School studying the question,“Where does our food come from?” took a virtual journey around the world exploring the origins of their favorite food, and ended up back in Seattle at the nation’s first organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory.

Edmonds students were among the fifth-graders who read Michael Pollan’s book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” as part of their agricultural systems unit. After learning more about where their food comes from, students were asked to create a commodity chain analysis on the meal of their choice, ranging from from asparagus to chocolate ice cream to McDonald’s chicken nuggets. You can see example of one of the final presentations, co-created by Mackey Guenther of Edmonds, here.

To wrap up the unit, on Tuesday students visited Seattle-based Theo Chocolate, creator of organic and Fair Trade chocolate and one of the few direct-sales chocolate factories in the country. There, they learned about the chocolate-making process from start to finish.

Soundview humanities teacher Matt Stenovec chose Theo Chocolate not only because it is the first organic chocolate factory in the U.S., but also because of the rigorous screening process Theo ingredients go through to meet certain social and environmental standards.

“The whole investigation was driven by student interest and with so little transparency when it comes to the food we eat, the fifth graders were very excited to independently investigate a meal from field to plate,” Stenovec said.

  1. Bless Matt Stenovec for teaching his students to research the truth about food in America. What a great project Soundview students! I just wonder if any of the students were swayed to change their diets! Maybe you can be the change this country needs!
    On a side note, Theo’s chocolate is the only chocolate I eat and the tour is extremely informative and empowering. Great pick Matt Stenovec!

  2. It’s very encouraging to read that our schools are teaching a topic so relevant to the problems facing our future generations. Our food supply is already a very big issue today and will only continue to grow in importance as world population skyrockets yet available farmland decreases.

    It’s especially informative that “The whole investigation was driven by student interest…” I have no fear that our next generation has become an “entitled generation” as some would belittle them with that label. It appears the only people who have any concern about our society’s and the world’s future is the younger people. More power to them.

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