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Friday, February 15, 2008

Chocolate... Who doesn't love chocolate?

Now that Valentine's Day is over and chocolate demand slowly resides, I thought I might share with you few people who read my blog something that I have always cared about in the margins of my life but that I have recently begun to really look at seriously... fair trade. Now, I know that the leap from chocolate hearts to fair trade might sound crazy, but I promise it isn't. In fact, you can read a very insightful article here about the reason why fair trade needs to become more a part of chocolate buyers' thinking.

So, what is fair trade? The basic premise is that companies buy from farm co-ops, rather than individual farmers. In this way, the farmers have more leverage and can command a higher price, which in turn creates better working environments and frequently, better products. So, you can look at it as a lot like unionizing of farm workers, often times in third world countries, so that they can earn a living wage and provide basic living standards (such as humane working conditions and no child slave labor). Many co-ops have used the increased revenue to improve their products, as well as build schools, health clinics and other socially relevant services for their employees. Coffee is the most commonly referenced product to be fairly traded (it was the first to get international recognition) but there are many others, including teas, chocolates, sugar, rice, vanilla, fresh fruit... the list goes on and on!

What does all of that mean to us average Americans? Generally, it means that you pay a little bit more (though not always) for a fair trade product, which is generally as good and often times better than a non-fair trade product. You also can go away with the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped multiple farmers in a far away land get a tiny bit closer to an American way of life (though that's a whole different topic for a different post). And I know you are all thinking, but Jenna, how do I find fair-trade products? (okay so you weren't thinking it... but now you are!). It's actually pretty easy... First look for this symbol on a product.

(This is the US certified symbol, though they are still working on making it universal... until then you might see other logos, just look for the fine print!)
Second, there are many companies that sell fair trade products. Pulled from Transfair USA's website (the company that oversees fair trade in America), the following cafes and restaurants serve fair trade:
Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops - Ask for Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream.
Bruegger's - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.
Caribou Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.
Dunkin' Donuts - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.
Einstein Bagels - Ask for their Global Village Fair Trade Blend.Macy's
Noah's Bagels - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.Nordstrom
Peet's Coffee and Tea - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.
Seattle's Best Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Certified Organic French Roast.
Starbucks Coffee - Ask for Cafe Estima.
Tully's Coffee - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.

(Yes, that's right folks... you can now enjoy Dunkin' Donuts and tell people that you are supporting the global economy!)

And the following retailers carry fair trade (though I found some fair trade at City Market as well, which isn't on the list but is a subsidiary of Kroger, which just goes to show you that ultimately you should just look):
Costco
CostPlus World Market
Dominick's Finer Foods
Fred Meyer
Giant
Harris Teeter
Kroger
PublixQuality Food Center
Safeway
Sam's Club
Shaw's Supermarket
Stop 'n' Shop
Target
Trader Joe's
Wegman's
Whole Foods Market
Wild Oats

And now I will step off of my soap box (still waiting for those to become fair trade) and hope that you will consider looking into this for yourself and your family (and the many families who rely on product sales to America each day).

6 comments:

Donna said...

very interesting. I am really getting into stuff like this. Going green! and this goes right along with it.

My husband is really interested in getting a bunch of worms (ewe) for a compost. Weird, but intriguing!

Very interesting post!

amy said...

Yay for soapboxes, especially if they are fair trade promoting! I'd also add that you can support fair trade by going to local farmers markets: it's usually grown organically, it's always grown close-by, and you can often ask the farmers themselves to tell you about the produce.

Alaina said...

Great post! My sister has raised my awareness of Fair Trade over the last year - I've noticed that Trader Joe's has quite a number of items that fall in that category. Thanks for reminding me again how important it is!

Alaina said...

BTW, I tagged you. :)

Jamie said...

Very thought provoking! Thank you for sharing.

Ashley Cross said...

I love chocolates! :)