Have you ever traded the bananas from your lunch for somebody else's cookie? Trading like this is called barter, and it is probably the oldest way of buying and selling.



Barter only works as long as the things people are trading are worth approximately the same, and as long as two people want the things each other have. Thousands of years ago, when most people were hunters or farmers, bartering worked pretty well. A sheep farmer could trade wool for vegetables, or a hunter could trade meat for bread. As lives became more complicated, bartering did too. A farmer might give vegetables to the pot-maker, who would give pots to a hunter, who gave meat to the farmer. Confusing, isn't it? They needed a better way to do business.