What's Fair Trade Chocolate?

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Fair trade chocolate means a better life for cocoa growers. How? Growers are guaranteed a minimum price for their cocoa. 

Fair Trade logo from wikimedia.org

Enough money to cover the cost of doing business.

In return they must comply with labor standards and use sustainable farming methods.

Both workers and the environment are protected.

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What an opportunity!  You can enjoy the health benefits of dark chocolate while helping farmers improve their lives. 

Should you support it?




What are the Benefits of Fair Trade Chocolate?

Just what the name implies. It's a trading alliance that helps small producers of cocoa get a fair price for their product. 

Can't argue with that.

It's estimated that most cocoa farmer's yearly pay is less than $2,000 before expenses.

The average worker is paid from $200 to $400 per year.

Low cocoa bean prices sound like good news for us chocolate lovers, right? 

Wrong! Low prices drive producers out of business.  Fair trade guarantees farmers a minimum price, a living wage.

One that can keep them in business.

That's a good, if a somewhat selfish reason to support it.  But the best reason is that everyone seems to benefit.


Farmers are organized into democratically run cooperatives that...

  • access better trading opportunities=better prices
  • protect their rights
  • manage their production and marketing
  • protect the environment=eco-friendly crop management, most lethal pesticides prohibited

 

How do the cocoa workers benefit?  They get paid.  Fair trade protects against...

  • slave labor
  • exploitation of child laborers
  • devaluation of women's contribution=they're paid and entitled to participate

Even the community benefits. There's a $150 per ton premium that is set aside.  It's to be used for making economic, community or environmental improvements.

Sounds great but is there an organization that oversees these agreements?



Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO)

Since 1997 the FLO has been the global body responsible for establishing fair trade standards and certification. 

It supervises and reviews the co-ops and  cocoa buyers to ensure that they honor their agreements. 

The North American members of the FLO are TransFair USA and TransFair Canada.




Fair Trade Federation

The Fair Trade Federation is a coalition of North American businesses dedicated to the ideals of fair trade. 

It's part of the worldwide movement to promote equitable trade.

It's website lists about 77 members that handle fair trade chocolate products.




Is it worth supporting?  That's up to you. Yes, it might cost a little more.  But those few pennies can mean a better life for cocoa farmers, workers, and their families. So in this case, a penny spent is a better life earned.


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Fair Trade Chocolate products at Chocolate.com.

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