Posts Tagged ‘fair trade’

Katherine Nagasawa and Leah Varjacques have created Beyond the Seal, an excellent web documentary on the battle that small farmers in Ecuador have waged to improve the lives of workers and family producers in the banana industry.  Watch the excerpt video clip below, and visit Beyond the Seal to see the whole story.  You won’t look at bananas in your local produce section the same.

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I got to go trick or treating early this year, courtesy of someone nice who did the shopping.  My Halloween chocolate consisted of Trader Joes Fair Trade Belgian Chocolate.  Tastes heavenly and doesn’t contribute to slavery.  Be an abolitionist and buy Fair Trade products!

Global Exchange has 31 creative ideas to celebrate a Fair Trade October.

Here are a couple I like:

  • Find out which stores in your neighborhood sell fair trade chocolate and buy your Halloween candy there.
  • Host a screening of the Dark Side of Chocolate… they even include a tool kit with everything you need
  • Check out the rest of the Fair Trade October ideas

Buying Fair Trade items helps prevent slavery by supporting sustainable markets for vulnerable people in developing economies.  It also helps fight slavery by sending a message to companies that don’t support Fair Trade, giving them a business incentive to support sustainable markets.

When I buy chocolate and other candy from Hershey, MARS, and Nestle today, those companies can’t assure me that my products weren’t grown, harvested, distributed, and even manufactured by slaves and child labor.  I used to love M&M’s, but they don’t taste as good to me when I picture a slave picking the cocoa for CEO Paul Michaels at Mars.

I’m glad to hear that Hershey has responded to pressure from the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, and announced that they are committing to be 100% Fair Trade by 2020.  While that’s better than NOT committing to becoming Fair Trade at all, it’s still 7 years away.  I guess if Hershey is asking the farmers and laborers to wait 7 years for Fair Trade practices, then Hershey can wait 7 years for me to buy their products.  In the meantime, I’m keeping an eye on Nestle and Mars to follow suit, and I’ll keep buying chocolate and coffee that are Fair Trade now.

What is your reaction?  How do you decide which candy, costume, or products to buy for Halloween? Click here to leave a comment, or click on the bubble next to the title of the post.

CNN Freedom Project reports that mega-chocolate maker Nestlé is attempting to address child labor in the Nestlé supply chain.

  • Good for CNN for diving into the fight against slavery with the CNN Freedom Project.
  • Good for Nestlé for joining the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and supporting the FLA study on Nestlé’s labor problems in its chocolate supply chain.

CNN calls the FLA report an “independent study,” but there are significant questions about the independence of the Fair Labor Association.  According to Chris O’Brien at Silicon Beat, the FLA audit of Apple’s supply chain issues is of dubious value if the FLA is primarily funded by dues from its members.  O’Brien suggests that if Apple, Nestlé, and other big corporations pay dues which make up the bulk of FLA revenue, isn’t having the FLA conduct an investigation of members’ supply chains a little like “asking the fox to guard the henhouse?”  Are these companies serious about addressing child and forced labor in their supply chains and taking substantial steps?  Or are they dragging their feet and whitewashing poor corporate behavior behind a veil of FLA legitimacy?

I think Nestlé is moving in the right direction, and I applaud Nestlé’s decision to join the FLA, cooperate with the FLA child labor investigation, and move toward transparency in their supply chain.  At least they are admitting they have a problem.  In my opinion, it’s a huge step forward.  But… read this quote from the report, and tell me if you think Nestlé has taken full responsibility for selling chocolate made with forced labor and child labor.

“[O]ne company alone cannot solve the problems of labor standards that prevail in the cocoa sector of the Ivory Coast. The current state of working conditions—and specifically child labor, which regrettably is still a reality in the cocoa sector—has its roots in a combination of factors, including the socio-economic situation of the farmers and their families, the cultural perceptions of the workers, métayers and growers, and migration issues. These conditions have been compounded by the recent civil war in the country. Any realistic strategy to eliminate child labor in the Ivory Coast would have to start with the attitudes and perceptions of the various participants in the supply chain and communities at large, something that will take a considerable amount of time to achieve.

Since I became aware of forced and child labor problems in the chocolate industry, I stopped buying chocolate from Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé.  This report has not changed my mind.  I’m still not buying Nestlé chocolate, because it’s made with child and forced labor (in part).  However, at least Nestlé has given me hope that they are attempting to address the issue, so I will watch them to see if they deliver.  If independent groups can verify in the future that Nestlé’s supply chain is free of forced and child labor, I’ll start buying their products again.  Until then, I buy Fair Trade and other sustainably sourced chocolate.

At our extended family Christmas gathering, we exchanged a lot of chocolate that was fair trade and/or equal exchange. And delicious! My nephew put Organic Dark Chocolate and Caramel Crunch in my stocking. I loved it. Someone else got Divine Dark Chocolate (which can also be ordered on Amazon by the way) amid many oohs and aahs. And I was delighted to find Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate at my local Walgreen’s Drug Store to give to my brother.  If you enjoy gourmet chocolate, and especially if you like to buy organic and Fair Trade Certified products, I hope you’ll get a chance to try any of these, because our family loved them!