People Unseen

“I pity a man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”

Benjamin Harrison,23rd President of The United States

I was trying to find some funny quotes on pity the other day to make a comment on a friends Facebook page when I came across this quote from Benjamin Harrison. It immediately made me think of the principles of Fair Trade and the journey I have been on over the past 2 years. It got me thinking about the different ways we treat people and how that treatment may differ based on two categories: people we see and people we don’t.

I’m sure most of us have seen people in desperation, people begging for assistance. In my community they can be seen on a bench outside the local Safeway playing some type of musical instrument with an open container at their feet that has a few coins or bills in it. Continue reading

Show Me Your Label: A Guide To Fair Trade Labels

Have you ever wondered what exactly to look for when trying to buy Fair Trade? It can  be a little confusing to decipher the labels or perceived rhetoric about “Fair Trade” and get down to finding the actual products available in the market. But once you know what to look for, it actually becomes quite easy.

Certified Fair Trade products are not available in every type of merchandise that we may think of. There is a small but comparable list of things available at this point and the best way to find those products is by looking for the “label”. The above photo is a collage of all the Certified Fair Trade and Fair Trade related logos that I am aware of. What is to follow is a listing of each logo and a brief description of what they mean and information about the parent organization. I hope you’ll find this helpful and that it may take some of the guesswork out of shopping Fair Trade.

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See All Labels and Continue Reading Here!

Oliver’s Market: The View From A Fair Trade Shopper

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Oliver’s is a market with three storefronts in the Sonoma County area. I recently visited the store and cataloged the items the store carries that are Certified Fair Trade. While these items are stocked on the shelves at Oliver’s they are available in other markets as well such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The purpose of this post is to give you a visual to assist you in finding these products at a market near you.

As for, it is one that seems to be concerned with high quality products and support of the local community. It boast a wide variety of Fair Trade products and a giant selection of local goods. The company  declares, “Our mission is to provide the communities we serve with the finest grocery store in the marketplace.To this end, we seek out our customers’ specific needs and tailor our products and services to meet those needs.We carry the largest possible selection of natural, conventional and gourmet products. We carry only the highest quality meat, produce and deli products, buying locally whenever possible.”

Here is a list of the Certified Fair Trade Products that I found… See All Products and Continue Reading Here!

A Little Piece of Heaven

It usually only happens once a year. I find myself longing for it and remembering how long it has been since the last time. It’s special. It’s magical. It’s one of the sweetest things I have ever had the pleasure of tasting and there is nothing that I can think of that compares to its goodness. It’s my wife’s Christmas Fudge and it is “a little piece of heaven”.

It’s made from a Westbrook family recipe and I for one am very grateful for this tradition of passing down recipes. But this year the fudge turned out a little different; it tasted a little sweeter. Continue reading

Chocolate Has A Darker Side.

Do you know who handles your chocolate?

He was looking for Ali, the driver of the bus. The boy was Malian and no more than 10 years old. 100′s of miles away from home and separated from his family, he had no idea where he was. He had just spent hours on a bus traveling from the depot to the border town near the Ivory Coast. He was in the middle of a human trafficking ring that began in the bus depot and included the bus driver and a network of other transport
“professionals” that take the children all the way across the border and deliver them to the cocoa farms to work as slaves. This is the and the topic of a documentary of the same name by award winning Danish journalist Miki Mistarti.

On Wednesday Dec 14, the  featured a screening of this film in cooperation with at the Healdsburg High School’s Black Box Theater. You can watch the full documentary .

The film suggests that the dark side of chocolate is the wide use of child slaves to farm the cocoa. These children range in ages from as young as 8 all the way up to 19. In most cases there are no wages for these children as they can be bought for a few hundred dollars and used for an indefinite period of time. They sleep in wooden shacks, carry machetes to harvest the cocoa, wear no shoes and have no other safety equipment. They are girls and boys alike working as slaves in the Ivory Coast and many of them are initially trafficked from the country of Mali.

When I became aware of the issue of trafficked children in the chocolate industry I was faced with a decision to make. “Do I support companies that do not have transparency in the their supply chains and whose monitoring processes are inadequate, or do I support companies who know exactly where they are getting their product from?”

Divine Milk Chocolate

The choice was easy for me, I only want to support companies that know who handles their product from the farm where it’s grown to the merchant who sells it. It means that I have to change the way I do a few things but the chocolate does taste sweeter.of the brands that I buy at my local .

Nestle, Hershey’s, Barry Callebaut and Mars are some of the biggest perpetrators of the offense and all have major offices in the Ivory Coast to buy cocoa from the farms in that region. Watch the documentary and make an informed decision. Every purchase matters and we can let our purchase be our advocacy. It’s a simple thing buying Fair Trade chocolate but I feel better knowing that no one was in danger or forced to to make the thing that I enjoy.