Cannot Be Unseen: Coffee

coffee

Oh coffee, the sweet dark mistress of the morning. Was that creepy? That felt creepy. We’ll just move along.

Coffee is, without a doubt, one of the highest risk products with regard to exploited and child labor. With that in mind, it’s easy to assume that it would be difficult to find tasty, affordable, fair-trade coffee. Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult!

A solid number of coffee brands have risen to the fair trade challenge. Many are going above and beyond. Here are a few brands to check out:

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

http://landofathousandhills.com/index.php/ourstory

Deans Beans

http://www.deansbeans.com/

Grounds for Change

http://www.groundsforchange.com/learn/index.php?

Don’t forget to do some research into each brand before ordering. I think you’ll like what you find. Do you have a favorite fair trade coffee company? Share it in the comments!

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Cannot Be Unseen: Chocolate

Cocoa is considered a pretty “high risk” product with respect to exploited labor. For that reason, most of the chocolate-based products we used to buy are now off-limits to me.

Buying chocolate is definitely on our minds around this time of year, and it’s super important to stand firm on consumer responsibility and not give in to what’s easy or cheap at the expense of ethics.

Anyway,ย  this week, when I got, ahem, sick ๐Ÿ˜‰ my wonderful husband went on a crusade to find me delicious fair-trade chocolate that is produced by ethically-conscious companies. Here’s what he found:

Milk Chocolate Bar

Besides the fact that this chocolate is delish, I was thrilled to discover this on their website:

“Our policy states that we will not buy chocolate or ingredients from firms that use or reinforce the use of exploited labor of any sort. Our chocolate supplier does not engage in and does not support forced or exploitative labor practices.

Given that our supplier has a facility on the Ivory Coast, they are in a position to assure this, perhaps more than other firms who do not maintain a facility in the cocoa producing regions. I speak with my supplier about this subject weekly to encourage them to do what they can to help other companies prevent such activities and apply what pressure they can in the region.

We buy chocolate from Belgium. The Belgian’s work with the European Cocoa Association. The ECA has met repeatedly with the Ivory Coast ambassadors and the UNICEF program directors for the region in an attempt to convey the policy that they will not support exploited labor and to develop a plan to assess the exact conditions in the West African cocoa producing countries. Once the situation is understood clearly and the reasons for whatever problems may exist are also clearly understood, they will implement programs to correct abuses, if any.

At Chocolove, we are committed to ensuring the fair and equal rights of all those directly and indirectly affected by our business. I believe it is our responsibility to do our part to see that everyone might live in a safe and happy world.”

I haven’t done an extensive amount of research yet to see what kind of accountability Chocolove has in place, but they certainly seem to be off on the right foot, as it were. My hubby found this at Earth Fare, but the Chocolove is also sold at Whole Foods and World Market, and the website is helpful in locating other retailers.

And I’m happy to have found a chocolate bar that I can enjoy and support! And I’ve solved the problem of what candy to stuff our stockings with this season. ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your favorite fair trade & ethically-responsible chocolate?

Cannot Be Unseen: Raising Awareness

I have a problem. I can never buy a KitKat bar again. (Cue desperate sobs.) I also have to walk away from Mr. Goodbar, M&M’s, and Dove Chocolates. I have seen something that I can never, ever unsee, and now I’m atย  a crossroads.

Now honestly, none of those are good for me. I probably shouldn’t be eating all the sugary junk anyway. But I’m not talking health… I’m talking about ethics.

Free2work.org is a website (and now an app) that helps to expose to the general public the policies and ethical practices of major corporations. Free2work is affiliated with Not for Sale, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of human trafficking. The website “grades” brands ranging from apparel (Gap, Forever 21, Faded Glory, and George are some notable ones) to foods, beverages, and even electronics (check out their assessment of Apple if you dare.) Each grade takes into account the brand’s ethical manufacturing policies, involvement in forced and/or child labor, worker rights and wages, and accountability.

The major problem with this resource is that once you’ve seen their reports, you can’t ever unsee them. Every product with a failing grade is one more thing I can’t purchase with a clear conscience. So when I say to read at your own risk, please understand me: the biggest challenge is learning to cope without some of your favorite products.

Now comes the exciting part: finding alternative ways to live. I’m about to kick consumerism in the butt (in my own life, anyway), and I hope to raise some awareness about this very serious issue along with way.