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 Oliver’s Market, 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 website 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.”
After a cold day at a Norther California beach I promised my nieces and nephew a nice cup of Fair Trade hot chocolate. The excitement level was through the roof. Just the night before we screened the film “The Dark Side of Chocolate” with the whole family, all 14 of them, including the five children. When they found out we were going to have hot chocolate, and it was Fair Trade Certified, they were buzzing. I on the other hand was a little nervous. I had two varieties of hot chocolate and I had never made either one. This was going to be interesting. It was the first test of an experiment that began with a Christmas party and a group of students.
The experiment seemed simple enough: find a “Fair Trade” alternative for hot chocolate. As I posted before we had some students over to our house for a Christmas party but we were out of hot chocolate. I went to my local Safeway to see if they had a fair trade option but I came up empty handed. So I was determined to see what was out there at some of the different merchants in my area. The experiment took about a month and covered a distance of over 200 miles. Continue reading →
We recently invited a group of students over to our house for an evening Christmas party. We were going to play the secret santa game, read some stories, and have dessert and hot coco. I noticed we didn’t have any hot coco in the house so I decided to run to the store to get some before the party. Because of the time I went to the closest store, our local Safeway. I knew our Safeway sold Fair Trade coffee and was hoping I would have some luck with coco as well. But this was not the case. Instead, there were 5 basic brands, the likes of which I’m sure are found in most grocery stores. There was the Safeway brand, which I must say I do not know anything about. The “local” Ghiradelli chocolate brand (local only because I live just north of San Francisco). The flavored Starbucks brand. And the Hershey and Nestle brand. There were no Fair Trade offerings for hot chocolate at this Safeway.
So which one to buy in the pinch. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about the Safeway brand so I chose to leave that one on the shelf. When it comes to Hersey’s and Nestle I can no longer bring myself to buy any products put out by these two manufacturers. Both Hershey’s and Nestle get a D+/D grade on the Free2Work app and Hershey’s is said to be lagging behind the rest of the cocoa industry when it comes to supply chain transparency. That left me with Ghiradelli and Starbucks. Ghiradelli gets a C- grade from Free2Work and Starbucks is not on the list. I know Starbucks does have 2 Fair Trade labels in their lineup of coffee so I thought they might be the better choice for the time being. So I did it, I bought the Starbucks brand Hot Chocolate but I left feeling unsatisfied.
The bottom line is that I now need to find where I can buy Fair Trade Certified Hot Chocolate here in my town. I have two options, Big Johns Market and Shelton’s Market. Both of these markets sell a wide range of Fair Trade goods and I am confident I will be able to find what I am looking for there.
Is it really that big of a deal though? We’re talking about hot chocolate here… The problem for me is that once I am aware that the products I use could have been produced by slave or child labor, I feel a responsibility to choose a different product. And in doing so, I feel empowered. I can choose something different. I can show what I believe in by what I choose to buy.