“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
Fair Trade organisations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” They can be recognised by the WFTO logo. –World Fair Trade Organization
In my English class on Human Rights in literature, we recently had a lecture about fair trade and what it means.
Until this class, I had been ignorant of, but I cannot say oblivious to, much of the horror that exists in our world today.
So that we can eat chocolate.
So that we can drink coffee.
In class, we watched a video that depicted the current process by which over half of the world’s cocoa was touched first by the hands of young children in Africa who were “sold” to traffickers and forced to farm the cocoa in hazardous conditions.
- And, if “they didn’t hurry,” they were beaten.
- Once they are forced to these farms, most children never see their families again.
- These children are given machetes and knives to work with, and most have scrapes and cuts on their bodies from the completely unsafe conditions.
Of cocoa alone, many chocolate products on the market today use this cocoa farmed by child slaves on the Ivory Coast.
Nestle chocolate has paid big bucks for Google to deeply hide information about where they get their cocoa from, while Hershey’s chocolate has paid big bucks for Google to highlight the fact that they are “working toward fair trade chocolate.”
We hear these facts, and eat chocolate.
Because in our Western society, it is so normalized.
In yet another English class, on the same day I had this lecture, we were discussing a poem in its context of the 18th Century, in which “possessing” a black slave was a “fashion statement.”
My prof asked us: “If you lived in this time period, do you think you would have a black slave?”
I profusely shook my head. There is no way simply a cultural norm could make me okay with that, I thought.
But then I went to my work shift at Starbucks. And as I was pumping syrups full of cocoa, I felt taint, privilege, and ignorance. And then entitlement for feeling such things.
I cannot be ok with, or support, as often as possible, products that aren’t fair trade. Will you educate yourself with me?
As my activism project for this English class, I am starting a series on this blog that will run every Tuesday, educating myself and readers on the disgusting treatment of slaves that we endorse when we purchase many products daily.
Starting with cocoa– chocolate bars, hot chocolate, cocoa powder.
Here is a list of cocoa products that are 100% fair trade:
Ithaca Fine Chocolates
Terra Nostra Organic
This series of posts is leading up to a breakfast I will host at the end of the month featuring only fair trade foods and products, as well as with educational info for all guests on how and why to purchase these products over mass-produced ones.
I encourage you to share this post, and consider new chocolate today.