Have you ever wondered what all the fuss was about for chocolate that's Fair Trade Certified? I think we all can see the importance of Fair Trade as a whole, but why for chocolate? Hey, I know it's the Food of the Gods, a delectable sin and all that, but is Fair Trade Certified chocolate really necessary?
I had recently asked myself this question and decided to find out. And what I did find I can honestly say has won me over. Not that I wasn't won over before. I'm really not that much of a chocolate consumer, however, the last couple of time that I actually bought a chocolate bar from the grocery store, not only was the chocolate Fair Trade Certified, it was organic as well. I'm not saying I deserve an award, but at least it was something. Yay for me!
As I sought out more information on Fair Trade Certified chocolate, my travels eventually brought me to Co-op America, where my wife and myself are supporting members. Co-op America is steadfastly committed to social and economic justice, and I couldn't think of anybody better who might have the inside scoop on organic and Fair Trade Certified chocolate. I wasn't disappointed.
According to Green America's "Quarterly" publication (Winter, 2007), an issue dedicated to economic action in Africa, over 10,000 children are enslaved on cocoa farms in Africa. Furthermore, the bulk of the cocoa produced on these farms is purchased by Nestle, Cargill and Archer-Daniels Midland, who in turn, supply practically all of the cocoa used by thelargest chocolate producing companies in the U.S., including Hershey's and M&M/Mars. And with such a large demand being placed on farmers, who are being severely underpaid by middleman, many cocoa farmers are using toxic chemicals and fertilizers to increase production.
Although there is a lawsuit against Nestle, Cargill and ADM currently making its way through the courts, the child slave labor and environmental degradation continues. Obviously, the case to purchase Fair Trade Certified Chocolate, which ensures fair wages directly to the farmers themselves, is the best thing you can do for Africa, the environment and yourself. Oh, and did I mention it really does taste better. Delighting in delectable sin and helping save the environment at the same time...Could it get any better than this?!