Bittersweet on Easter Treats

As you plan ahead for your Easter weekend, you might be thinking about Easter egg hunts, or other chocolate goodies that the Easter Bunny will deliver. This year, go beyond planning strategic hiding spots, and consider thinking about the origin of the chocolate you purchase for your friends and loved ones.

Last week, CTV News ran an article called, “The dark side of Easter chocolate,” in which they detailed worrisome ethical concerns in the chocolate supply chain, including child labour and slavery, and a lack of sustainable income for many cocoa farmers in regions such as West Africa.

For those of us who want to feel good about our impact on others and the environment, this isn’t great news. However, you may not have to give up your annual hunt. One place to start is to look for the Fairtrade label when purchasing chocolate. Many companies, like Camino, Endangered Species, and others offer Fairtrade and sustainably-sourced chocolate Easter treats, and even large companies such as Cadbury, Nestle, and Hershey are taking steps toward stronger ethical and environmental performance.

To help you in your pursuit, CTV also cited two resources for finding ethical Easter chocolate: World Vision’s “The Good Chocolate Guide” and the “ChocoFinder” app that will help you find specialty chocolate stores selling ethical products in your area.

This year, look for chocolate that won’t compromise people or planet – we think that’s a decision you can feel really sweet about!

Fair Trade Chocolate: Reasons to Celebrate and Indulge

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – all perfectly excellent reasons to celebrate with chocolate. Something else we can celebrate is the ever-increasing availability of fair trade chocolate. When you purchase fair trade chocolate farmers in developing countries, receive a reliable and living wage, get a social premium to invest back into their communities. In fact, according to Fairtrade Canada “When chocolate bears the Official Fairtrade Certified logo, it means the cocoa production has been independently monitored, giving you the assurance the manufacturer’s claim is true…Fair trade also encourages sustainable farming, so when purchasing a fair trade products you’re also helping the environment.”

Fair trade chocolate has been available in health stores and specialty markets for years, but confection giants are getting in the game. In 2009 Cadbury made a commitment to use fair trade chocolate in their Cadbury Dairy Milk bars and have since added fair trade Easter Eggs. In 2009 and 2010 they were the world’s largest buyer of fair trade certified cocoa. Kraft, who recently took over Cadbury, has promised to maintain that commitment. Kit Kat, owned by Nestle, is following Cadbury’s example, due to volume, the impact of such large companies using fair trade ingredients is huge and make a real difference to the lives of families in developing countries.

While this exciting move towards the use of fair trade cocoa by large companies is exciting and impactful, it’s important that we don’t forget the Tazamania Proverb “little by little a little become a lot”. There are many artisanal, certified fair trade companies providing top quality chocolate – these specialty chocolate companies are the backbone of the fair trade cocoa movement. These small companies are passionate about making a positive impact in the world rather than just making profit. By choosing to purchase from companies that are fair trade certified, you can feel good about the choice you’ve made and sometimes making the right choice can taste sooooo good.

In a world where your purchases have more influence than your political vote, it is imperative that you take all factors into consideration before pulling out your wallet. 

-Scott Umstattd

Fairtrade Canada

Cadbury Dairy Milk – Fair Trade

Fair Trade Valentine’s Day Gifts

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Flowers for Valentine’s Day: The True Cost of Romance

Whether you ordered your stunning bouquet to be delivered by a singing messenger, or will be running into your local grocer at the last minute, chances are flowers are a big part of your Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with flowers; they’re classic, romantic, aromatic, non-fattening, and a perfect and delicate expression of your love. Of course since it IS a flower holiday, the cost of skyrockets, but just like popcorn at the movies, florists count on your ignoring the cost in favour of the sentiment.

Sadly, the price tag is just one part of the high cost of flowers. Columbia is the second largest exporter of flowers, earning 1.3 billion in 2012. The Guardian recently posted an article about the growing industry and the price paid by the workers. According to the article “Behind the millions of imported flowers we buy every year is a mostly female workforce subjected to low pay and poor conditions”. These women leave their homes and children before dawn, working 16 hours, sustaining repetitive motion injuries and chemical exposure. They work at incredible speeds under tight supervision with minimal breaks, and near holidays such as Valentine’s Day they work double shifts – all of this for $269 per month.

There have been attempts, mostly unsuccessful, to form employee associations; however, members face intimidation and a culture of stigmatization. According to The Guardian, union leader López González’s was suspended without pay for four days simply for requesting a statutory break for her and her fellow workers.

The upside is that there is some slow progress being made with the forming of fair trade organizations that guarantee better conditions. The down side is low participation by Columbian flower farmers, and lack of demand by consumers for fair trade flowers. According to a spokesman for UK importer Quartz Flowers, “What we find in the UK with our customers [is that] if the product is of good quality, is consistent, then they don’t really ask for that [sustainability certification]”.

This year try looking for fair trade flowers, if your local grocer or florist doesn’t have them, ask why not and let them know you are not interested in flowers produced by suffering, impoverished workers. If you can’t find fair trade, don’t panic, there are other options – you can’t go wrong with fair trade chocolates and jewelry!

Florimex Roses – Canada’s Favourite Fair Trade Product 2014

Full Bloom Flowers

Fairtrade Canada

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