However I really hope it makes you think about the treats you buy.
Fair Trade. It’s an easy label to look past when we are deciding which chocolate or coffee to buy, especially if you’re more interested in the organic or gluten free labels. But I wonder how many people actually know what it means? Most people I’ve asked assume it has something to do with the environment.
Here is the definition from Fair Trade USA- the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.
“Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. We’re a nonprofit, but we don’t do charity. Instead, we teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage. With Fair Trade USA, the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.”
So why does fair trade matter?
Fair trade in general is a better deal for farmers, including cocoa farmers. In the fair trade system, farmers sell their produce directly to purchasers, who agree to pay more than the market price for the produce. Fair trade certified chocolate in particular, means that the product is produced without child labor.
The alternative is chocolate that is produced using child labor. By child labor, I will go with the Internationa Labour Organisation’s definition of work that “is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; by obliging them to leave school prematurely; or by requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”
Many of the children are actually sold as slaves to work in the cocoa fields, forcing them to do hazardous work, which includes using dangerous machinery or tools, manually transporting heavy loads, working with hazardous agents or working long hours.
This is something we can’t ignore. It is real, and most of the chocolate sold in the US is made from cocoa fields worked by children and often child slaves. These children have machete marks on their legs from the work they do splitting open the cocoa pods.
As I’m carefully purchasing strictly organic fruits and veggies for my sweet boys, boys on the ivory coast are spraying pesticides and fungicides on the cocoa crops without wearing protective clothing as they breathing in the fumes.
Then we support this practice when we buy the chocolate. It is that simple.
The ILO calls the cocoa industry the worst form of child labor that exists today. And many mainstream brands know about it but turn a blind eye to this ugly truth in the name of the almighty dollar. They keep the industry alive. HOW IS THIS OK?
I firmly believe each one of us can make a difference in this world when we direct our money to the right sources.
Look for these labels:
and only purchase chocolate if you see one. Chocolate is not something we need to sustain life. If you don’t see the label, don’t buy it.
We can make a difference.
We vote for change with our dollar.
Every purchase matters.
THERE IS GOOD NEWS. We have lots of fair trade chocolate options at our fingertips! Here is a list of all kinds of delicious fair trade chocolate.