The difference between purchasing certified fair trade chocolate and regular chocolate is far more significant than we think. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and with over 58 million pounds of chocolate purchased in the seven days leading up to February 14th, it is important to ask yourself what exactly is behind that sweet treat you’re buying for your valentine.1
So, what does buying fair trade actually mean? Fair trade products are products that “support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment.”2 Unfortunately, in the global marketplace, people often sacrifice the wellbeing of farmers, workers and fisherman to get a product in the easiest, cheapest or most efficient way possible. Here are a few reasons you should choose fair trade when you are browsing for Valentine’s sweets — and any sweets thereafter.
You Help Small Business Farmers
In the world of free trade, small-scale farmers are often left in the dust to large-scale conglomerates. Small, local farmers are pushed under the rug to larger, contract farmers who can sell more product at a lower price. Thus, in order to compete with large farmers, the more regional growers have to lower their prices so much so that the labor becomes free, effectively leaving them in poverty.
Fair trade products solve this by allowing small farmers to have sustainable incomes to fulfill basic household needs despite the market price.
You Improve Work Conditions and Prevent Child Labor
When large, subsidized farmers take over the free market and small farmers are required to lower the price of their goods, it often drives small farmers to start providing free labor and, in turn, child labor. Purchasing fair trade means workers on fair trade farms enjoy sustainable wages and safe working conditions where forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
You Buy Sustainable Products Free of GMOs
When you buy fair trade, you don’t have to wonder about what goes into your food, as there are no GMOs in fair trade products — ever. Fair trade standards “strictly prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs),” and they must be produced with little to no amount of pesticides and fertilizers with proper management of energy, water and waste. When you purchase fair trade, you are purchasing a product that is better for you.
You Help the Planet
In the age of change, we are constantly working to implement practices that will sustain our planet in the long run. Fair trade farmers implement practices that have long-term impacts on the planet with standards that work to keep their community and farms healthy for generations to come by taking extensive measures to protect natural resources on their farms – such as prohibiting harmful chemicals that large, subsidized farms use.
You Support the Future of Communities All Over the World
Since 1998, nearly $14 million has been invested back into communities of cocoa producers, resulting in life-transforming projects, such as building schools in Côte d’Ivoire.3 Fair Trade USA has implemented an Impact Management System to measure the progress and success of communities that have fair trade-certified farms. By purchasing fair trade chocolate, you are directly impacting communities from in 75 countries and four continents.4
Wondering where you can purchase fair trade chocolate this Valentine’s Day? Fairtradecertified.org has provided all of the places where fair trade chocolate can be purchased, and it may include some of your favorite brands!
When you head to the store to grab your Valentine some chocolate, read the label and consider making the change to fair trade.