Stories of Chocolate

cocoa-452911_640.jpg
Colombia cocoa farmer, courtesy of pixabay.com

In equator lands,
Sacks of sun-roasted jewels,
Cocoa farm’s triumph.


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Chocolates, courtesy of pixabay.com

Tokens of passion,
Chocolate gems tantalize,
Sold at bargain price.

Black, turquoise, and green
flames on chocolate wrappers.
Ethical treasures. 

There is a story behind these three haiku:  growing, harvesting, extracting, and drying cocoa beans requires hours of labour that are under-compensated.  Most of the work is carried out on small family-owned farms– over 70% of cocoa comes from West Africa.

 Under the fair trade system, farm organizations provide safe working conditions, eliminate child labour, and earn a fair market price.  Did you know that when you purchase a conventional chocolate product, your treat may have originated from the labour of a child–and that the price you pay does not reflect fair value?  For this reason, I generally buy chocolate showing the blue, green, and black fair trade logo. I purchased the examples shown above in major chain stores. (Please be assured–I gain no financial reward from promoting these products–they are shown only as examples.)

If you are interested in finding out more about fair trade chocolate, these links may be of interest:

Ontheland fair trade pageprovides a brief description of the international fair trade system and links to major fair trade organizations all over the world.

My post about the Kuapa KoKoo Farmer Cooperative in Ghana, featuring four brief videos. Kuapa KoKoo fair trade cooperative supplies cocoa beans to a major chocolate manufacturer in the United Kingdom.

Child labour on Nestlé farms: chocolate giant’s problems continuea report from the Guardian, September 2015.

The haiku in this post are in response to Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge #83. The prompt words are ‘gem’ and ‘flame’.  Synonyms used are jewel and treasure for ‘gem’; and roast and passion for ‘flame’. Are you curious what other people came up with? Please follow the challenge prompt to find out.

©2016, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Finding Fair Trade Chocolate Easter Eggs

I discovered on Twitter last night that it’s possible to buy Fair Trade chocolate Easter eggs online from Amazon.com.  I did a search: first checking the Canadian site, Amazon.ca, but I found nothing.  I moved on to Amazon.com, where fair  trade certified Easter chocolate is indeed for sale.  Not impressed with the shipping cost, and preferring to buy locally, I continued my search.

I googled “Fair Trade Kingston” to find specialty stores in my neighbourhood.  Although it’s easy to buy fair trade chocolate bars in major grocery stores and at some specialty shops, it’s been difficult to find fair trade chocolate Easter eggs.

To make a long story short, my search was successful.  When I walked into Ten Thousand Villages, 235 Princess Street, right in front of me was a display of golden wrapped fair trade chocolate Easter  eggs, made by Divine Chocolate Ltd. of the UK.   As well, at the back of the store I found a wide assortment of Divine and Ten Thousand Villages fair trade chocolate bars. 

Another local shop that sells Divine Chocolate and other fair trade items is Mola Mola, located at 163 ½ Alfred St.  Tara Natural Foods, at 81 Princess St., also sells fair trade chocolate bars.  There may be other small shops selling fair trade chocolate in Kingston—perhaps add a comment if you know of one.

Cocoa for Divine Chocolate Easter Eggs is from Ghana

Divine Chocolate is made from cocoa farmed in Ghana by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa growers’ cooperative.  This cooperative represents 45,000 small farmers and is a co-owner of the Divine Chocolate company.  Kuapa Kokoo farmers earn fair trade prices and premiums for their crops; they also participate in the profits from Divine product sales, through shareholder dividends.

Why the interest in Fair Trade Easter Eggs?

Cocoa is not grown in Canada—so it makes sense to buy cocoa harvested by small farmers who are receiving a fair price for their produce through the fair trade certification system.  International fair trade standards have expectations for all participants—from growers to sellers of finished products.  Growers join fair trade cooperatives that are paid the global market price or a minimum price, if higher.  Crops are grown according to standards that include sustainable practices and pesticide limitations.  There are also standards for worker safety and fairness. 

Fair trade chocolate bears a certification mark on the packaging and the fine print tells you which ingredients are certified.  More than 50% by dry weight must come from fair trade certified producers. There are a few certification marks that may be seen on fair trade chocolate products in Canada—the most current symbol, indicating certification by Fairtrade Canada or Fairtrade International, is  shown on the left.

More Fair Trade Shopping

Supporting local shops is ideal.  My internet search turned up the following fair trade specialists in Kingston, ON.  There may be more of course, but this list is at least a start:

CoffeeCo—An organic, fair trade coffee roaster, wholesaler, retailer, and espresso bar provider, an offshoot of Multatuli Coffee merchants.  This summer they are opening a new cafe that will serve organic and fair trade coffees and teas near Gardiner Rd. and Taylor Kidd (675 Arlington Place).

Earth to Spirit—Fair Trade Arts and Crafts Gallery, 340 King St. East.

Mola Mola—sells fair trade gift baskets at 163 ½ Alfred St.

Ten Thousand Villages—sells a wide range of items, such as household decorations, toys, clothing, coffee and chocolate. Ten Thousand Villages is a Fair Trade Organization with 29 stores across Canada. The Kingston location is 235 Princess Street.

When specialty shops are not located conveniently nearby, internet shopping for fair trade is another option.  Worldofgood.com  is an eBay marketplace specializing in fair trade and other positive products that are people, animal, and eco-friendly.  I searched for fair trade chocolate Easter eggs on this website and discovered that they sell Divine fair trade Easter eggs.

 

In Search of Fair Trade Chocolate—For Easter Bunnies and Chocoholics

Fair Trade Certified Chocolate found at local grocery--Logo shown on top right corner of bottom package (by ontheland)One of my special interests as a green consumer is buying fair trade certified products, such as chocolate, coffee, and bananas.  I am constantly on the lookout in local stores for the fair trade logo.

A few days ago I was browsing a free promotional magazine when with surprise I noticed a small blurb noting that Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars sold in Canada are now fair trade certified.  This may not be news to regular chocolate eaters or more dedicated fair trade shoppers, as this change happened last year.  In fact, as far back as 2009, Cadbury announced its intention to bring fair trade chocolate to Canada and other markets, after having introduced it in the UK and Ireland.

An Idea for Easter Chocolate Shopping

Easter is still over a month away, but Kingston stores are filling up with the pastel pinks, greens, and yellows of Easter—trinkets, stuffed toys, chocolate eggs, rabbits, and more.  When you’re shopping for chocolate, choosing packages with the fair trade certification mark may be the way to go (see upper right corner of bottom package in picture) —a way to support:

  • sustainable agriculture, including pesticide restrictions,
  •  decent working conditions, including a child labour ban, and
  •  fair compensation for small farming communities in developing countries. 

The only catch is that I haven’t seen any fair trade Easter eggs or bunnies—I gather these can be found in the UK,where fair trade is very firmly entrenched.  They even celebrate a FairTrade fortnight!

Fair trade chocolate bars are available in major grocery stores and department storesyou just have to look.  Today I looked for fair trade chocolate bars in a large grocery store in Kingston, ON.  There was good news and bad news.  First the bad news–I found fewer brands than I expected.  The good news was that I did find two brands:  Cadbury Dairy Milk and President’s Choice Fair Trade Chocolate.  Both Cadbury and President’s Choice sell many chocolate bars that are not Fairtrade certified—but they each have a few items that are—you just have to look for them in the sea of other types of chocolate.

How Much of a Chocolate Bar Comes from Fair Trade Sources?

When you buy a fair trade certified banana or package of certified coffee you know that 100% of the banana or coffee was grown by a certified farming cooperative, which in return for following fair trade standards–such as sustainable farming guidelines and safe working conditions– is guaranteed a minimum price, access to financing, and a premium to be reinvested into the local community.

Chocolate, on the other hand, is a “composite” product as it includes several ingredients–cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, milk, etc.  For both of the brands noted above, three ingredients are certified: sugar, cocoa butter, and unsweetened chocolate.

Composite Product Guidelines

My confidence in fair trade certification soared when I learned that FairTrade International has established guidelines for composite products such as chocolate.  When a composite product is fair trade certified:

  • All ingredients with existing fair trade standards must come from fair trade certified producers,
  • 20% by dry weight must be the significant ingredient (cocoa for chocolate, orange for orange juice),
  • More than 50% by dry weight, must come from fair trade certified producers.

Fair Trade Products are Quietly Gaining a Momentum in Canada

FairTrade Canada (formerly named TransFair Canada) is Canada’s certification body for companies seeking to use the fair trade logo in Canada and a member of FairTrade International, which certifies farmers, producers, and traders worldwide.

Cities and towns can be recognized as Fair Trade Towns if the local government agrees to a fair trade purchasing policy and a significant per cent of stores, workplaces, restaurants, schools, and faith groups make a commitment.  In Canada we have 15 fair trade towns, with Vancouver being the largest.  In Ontario, Barrie and Port Colborne are also Fair Trade Towns–and Hamilton, Windsor, New Hamburg, Woodstock, and Ottawa are in the process of building momentum.  Perhaps one day Kingston will be on that list!

FAIR TRADE LINKS SOCIAL JUSTICE AND GREEN DEVELOPMENT

Fair trade is one method of promoting both social justice and green development. Caring about the welfare of people worldwide is closely related to caring for the planet.

It’s slowly dawning on me that focusing on environmental issues can and should be connected to social issues such as poverty and labour standards everywhere.  After all, caring about the environment is ultimately caring about people and animals. 

Local, clean, sustainable farming and  production conserves energy and enhances the wellbeing of local people. 

Taking care of the environment and fighting global warming  reduces the risk of disasters such as oil spills, toxic leaks, floods, dying vegetation, and weather extremes.  Averting these disasters prevents mass poverty and social unrest.

Paying fair wages and prices for goods; safe working conditions, jobs, and housing promote stable communities that are able to take care of local land, air, and waters.

What has inspired these ramblings?

A recent headline from UN News states “Transition to Green Economy must aim at Poverty Eradication”.
The news report  quotes a senior UN official, Sha Zukang, organizing an upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

One of the themes of the event will be how to promote “a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

It will be interesting to see what this conference comes up with.  It’ll be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 and will be known as “Rio 2012”.

 

Source:  UN News, March 4, 2011–http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37687&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=

FAIR TRADE COOPERATION EFFORT ANNOUNCED

              
As a consumer, my confidence has been boosted by this recent news:   FairTrade International will be working with two other certification bodies—Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ CERTIFIED—to promote social justice and environmental sustainability.

The three sustainable agriculture organizations will cooperate to promote their common goal “of transforming global agriculture, production systems, and value systems to make them more sustainable.”

What will working together look like?  Though the three third party certifiers will continue to have different approaches and compete in the global marketplace, they will also work together to reduce complexity and costs for farmers.  One of their first projects will be streamlining auditing processes and making it easier for farmers to adhere to one or more sets of standards.

Some people have suggested that product certification is fragmented and confusing—because of the presence of several certifying bodies.   This group contends that continuing separate systems allows for diversity, choice, and innovative efforts. 

It will be up to producers, consumers, and traders to choose between different certification systems.

Thumbnail Introductions

FAIRTRADE INTERNATIONAL (FLO) has been supporting farmers and crafts people in developing countries since 1997.  Its standards require fair pay to producers, fair working conditions, safety standards, and environmental sustainability.  Its members include 20 National Labelling organizations and three regional producer networks.

RAINFOREST ALLIANCE/ SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE NETWORK (SAN)—The Rainforest Alliance logo stands for biodiversity, environmental protection, social equity, and economic sustainability.  Products bearing this label meet Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN) standards. Based in the United States, Rainforest Alliance was founded in 1986 by environmentalist, David Katz.

UTZ CERTIFIED—UTZ emerged in 1997 as a project of Guatemalan coffee producers and a Dutch business, Ahold Coffee Company.  Its name, “UTZ”, means “good”, in Quichu, a Mayan language.  Products bearing this label have met the criteria of a code of conduct that includes agricultural, environmental, and social standards.

 RESOURCES

Joint Statement Fairtrade, SAN/Rainforest Alliance & UTZ Certified, February 14, 2011, at an ISEAL workshop event in Bern, Switzerland

Fairtrade International

Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)

RainForest Alliance

UTZ Certified

 
 

Fair Trade Coffee, Chocolate, Flowers, Wine, and More

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Do you recognize this logo?  When it appears on a product, it has been approved according to international standards for fair trade—standards that support small producers in developing countries and promote sustainable farming methods.

With Valentine ’s Day approaching, there has been  a buzz about buying fair trade products for your sweetheart—chocolates, flowers, wine, jewellery, and more.  Many people who lean towards environmental and social consciousness are interested in fair trade, but don’t regularly purchase— due to a belief that these items are more expensive than regular products and that they aren’t easy to find.  Some of these products actually sit on regular  store shelves and are competitively priced.

Why Bother Buying Fair Trade Products?

If it bothers you that farmers and workers struggle to participate in the global market with poor working conditions and low wages, fair trade will be of interest.  If you are concerned that crops, such as coffee, cocoa, and bananas, damage the land or involve the use of dangerous pesticides, fair trade certification will also be a plus.  An international non-profit organization called Fair Trade International (also known as Fair Trade Labelling Organization International or FLO) has set up standards for fair trade that require:

  • Guaranteed minimum prices for farmers and producers that reflect the average cost of sustainable production—producers are paid the minimum price or the market rate, when higher;
  • Pre-financing arrangements;
  • Long-term contracts;
  • Labour standards, such as human rights, prohibition of child labour, and safety standards;
  • Democracy in producer organizations;
  • Prohibition of banned pesticides, guidelines for waste disposal, and other measures for  environmental protection.

How Does Fair Trade Certification Work?

Fairtrade International sets the standards.  Independent organizations determine whether the standards have been met at each stage of production and sale, until a product reaches the consumer.  Here  is my beginning understanding of how this system might work for a package of coffee sold with the Transfair Canada logo on it:

  1. A  farmer in a developing country, perhaps in Africa or Latin America, gets support from FLO to meet labour and environmental standards and to become eligible for fair trade prices, financing, and contracts.
  2. A  trader purchases coffee beans from the registered farmer and brings them to Canada for grinding and packaging. 
  3. The manufacturer registers with Transfair Canada for the right to use the Transfair Canada logo on approved coffee products.  Transfair Canada monitors purchases, sales, and processing.

 Buying Fair Trade Products

I’m convinced that we all benefit from a system that oversees production and sale in this way.  In future blogs I will be talking about products available in my local stores (Kingston, Ontario, Canada).  If you want to know more about fair trade or where you can find products where you live, there’s information at the following websites:

www.fairtrade.net  FairTrade International

http://transfair.ca/en  Transfair Canada

http://transfairusa.org/   Fair Trade USA

Some cities and towns have citizen campaigns to promote fair trade products—so check these out in your area.