This Sh*t Isn’t Easy

Throughout the writing of these blog posts it seems that all I have found is restriction after restriction as to what we as consumers can buy. It seems that every company violates human rights or is cruel to animals, and therefore we have to seek out companies that are harder to find, and usually cost a considerable amount more.

 

I don’t write this to be discouraging to my cause, I’m just saying trust me I know how challenging it is to buy fair-trade, especially as a college student.  I definitely put forth an effort to buy it when I can, but I in no way would I say I only buy fair-trade.  Sometimes this is because of a lack of funds, but a lot of times its just because of laziness. It is just easier to buy products that are all in one place and cheaper. This, my friends is the plague that keeps America purchasing the products it does. Convenience.

 

I found some good articles online that help us to find the easiest way to buy fair trade. This article has 10 tips that will help consumers to buy fair-trade. It has tips such as looking for the fair-trade label and try to find the items where you normally shop.

 

http://greenwoman.typepad.com/biggreenpurse/2009/07/top-ten-ways-to-support-fair-trade.html

 

Really the best way to buy fair trade items is to do it when you can in accordance with your budget. There is a ton of information online that will guide you to making responsible decisions, and every little bit helps. So start by maybe changing out one item on your grocery list with a fair-trade substitute.  Any kind of effort could go a long way to making difference.Image

Start Your Day the Right Way

You wake up on Monday morning, and it was a long weekend. You are little too tired and groggy, and certainly not ready to start your week with that spark of energy.  The answer for over half of adults in America is a morning cup of coffee.  It is more of then than not that you hear someone tell you “Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.  It has become a dependent for a lot of people in today’s society.

The other thing about coffee is that it is almost exclusively an imported item to the United States, with only Hawaii growing a significant amount of coffee beans.  And unfortunately this means that a lot of field workers that pick coffee beans are mistreated and/or severely underpaid for their labor. It is also a large contributor the child slavery epidemic.  I found a video called Child Labour-The Price of a Cup of Coffee that is a translated German Documentary that explains the child labor that is used in the coffee industry. It is prevalent in South America and on the Ivory Coast.

 So, how can we avoid supporting coffee farmers that contribute to bad labor conditions or child slavery?  In an article in thedailygreen there is a list of nationwide brands that offer fair-trade brands, including popular company Newman’s Own.  Another good place to reference is www.betterworldshopper.org.   They rank all the coffee companies with Equal Exchange at the top and Maxwell House at the bottom.

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In conclusion, next time you shop for that crucial start to your day, think about the people your purchases affect, and try to purchase from a company that is socially responsible.

The Dark Side of Chocolate

This is a post that may be difficult to read for some of you.  I know it was tough for me to hear and really challenged how I live my life day-to-day.  This is a post about one of our favorite treats, chocolate, and the way it gets from the fields in Africa to grocery store shelves.  The method is one that is not pleasant to hear about, but I think that once you have heard what happens on the farms of cocoa fields, it will make you question your buying decisions.

Recently I viewed a documentary called “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”  It is a film directed by Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano that follows a team of journalists as they investigate how human trafficking and child labor in the Ivory Coast fuels the worldwide chocolate industry. In 2001, the world discovered that there was a serious child slave trafficking industry booming in an area where most large chocolate companies (Hershey’s, Nestle, etc.) get their cocoa beans.

Eventually there was a compromise met that child labor on Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms would be ended by 2005.  This promise was not kept, and neither was the changed deadline of 2008 or 2010.  Through the investigation of the journalist in the film, we see that child labor is still used to pick them today. There are clips in the film of children working in the fields directly after the CEO of a major cocoa distributor is quoted saying there are no child slaves in Ivory Coast.  One quote says “a child can from Burkina-Faso be bought for 230 Euros, and that’s without haggling.”

I have personally made a pledge to only buy fair-trade chocolate from now on because it is not worth it to me to support child slavery just for chocolate.  When I told my mom about this documentary, she said “yeah, but chocolate is so good.”  This seems like a bad response, but really that’s what all of America is saying while the chocolate industry continues to make billions of dollars a year.

I encourage you to watch this documentary and become educated on the subject of cocoa trade.  Hopefully it can at least slow down the chocolate industry enough for it to take notice and truly end this modern-day slavery.