Marie was only 11 years old when she spoke at the “Raise the bar, Hershey!” rally in 2010. She’d seen videos of children in Ivory Coast and Ghana lugging around heavy sacks of cocoa beans and wielding machetes to open cocoa pods. She heard that these malnourished children in forced labor are often whipped or beaten. And she knew that wasn’t right.So Marie started a Fair Trade group at her middle school in San Francisco. She began telling everyone she could about the chocolate farmers who don’t earn a living wage, and the children kidnapped to work on plantations.
This is a great article which breaks down some of the problems with Fair Trade and poses some possible solutions. Also discovered in the article that a Mennonite started the fair trade movement.
There is today a far wider, more exciting range of chocolate bars available than we knew even a decade ago, and consumers can exercise a certain amount of ethical practice in buying them. Putting faith in a blue-and-green Fairtrade label alone is, perhaps, too simple. Through their different models, Fairtrade-certified companies, direct-trade companies, and artisanal producers are pushing each other to rethink standards for the entire chocolate industry.
Within our indigenous community of Xoxocotla, we continue to hold the ancestral values we inherited. It never crosses our mind to leave them behind. Because in daily life we are always in contact with nature, with our lands, with our water, with our air. We live in harmony with nature because we dont like the way that modernity is advancing, destroying our territory and our environment. We believe technological modernity is better named a death threat.We still watch our children chase the butterflies and the birds. We see the harmony between the crops and the land. Above all, we respect our water and we continue to perform ceremonies that give thanks for the water.
Consuelo Castillo, a community organizer in Lempira, a land reform settlement in Bajo Aguán, said, “Our goal is for everyone who is part of the land occupations to have access to land. Land is our first mother. For us farmers, we dont have life without land.”
But even if we meet farmers at the farmers market, urban consumers are still largely divorced from the people who grow, pick and package our food. And we may even willfully ignore their suffering, argues Seth Holmes, a medical anthropologist and professor of health and social behavior at the University of California, Berkeley, in his provocative new book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.
For two summers between 2003 and 2005, Holmes lived on a farm in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. The farm produces strawberries, apples, raspberries and blueberries to sell to berry companies like Driscoll and dairy companies like Häagen-Dazs. He traveled there with a group of Triqui Indians, across the border from their hometown of San Miguel in Oaxaca, Mexico. As Holmes soon learned, the Triquis make up the very bottom rung of the agricultural labor ladder and earn between $5,000 to $8,000 a year.