In the comfort of our homes or at our favourite restaurant, most us frequently enjoy chocolate in some form or another. Perhaps it’s a creamy bowl of chocolate ice cream, a gooey brownie fresh from the oven, or a cup of hot cocoa. Nestled among the cushions on the sofa or sitting around the table with friends, we don’t really consider how the chocolate got to our plate, except via the kitchen.
Many of you remember the disaster last year ago when the garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed and 112 workers were killed. The public called for Canadian retailers such as Joe Fresh (Superstore/Loblaws) to make conditions safer for workers. What Joe Public must realize is that they as the consumer are also in part responsible because their demand for cheap clothing comes at a cost – in that case, the safety and lives of the garment workers.
It is a similar situation with cocoa. Big chocolate makes high profits retailing cocoa they purchase at unfairly low prices from plantations who then in turn, force workers and children as young as 7 years old to spend long days in the field harvesting the crop for little or no pay and in dire working conditions.
Fair Trade chocolate makes up only 1% of the cocoa trade, but it is a growing market. Purchasing fair trade chocolate (and other products) is how we we, the consumer, play our responsible role so that farmers are fairly paid, children are sent to school and educated, and working conditions meet internationally recognized standards.
Articles where you can learn more about the working conditions on cocoa plantations, and what fair trade is and how it helps the farmers and protects workers:
- Concise explanation of fair trade and why it’s important via the David Suzuki Foundation
- Fair Trade Canada Explanation | Guide to Buying Chocolate
- BBC Article on Big Chocolate’s Promises to Make Changes That Aren’t Being Followed Through
- Children in Cocoa Production
- Bloomberg Article on Cocoa Farmers