If you’ve been paying attention to store shelves, you may be curious why so many chocolate products have been popping up with “fair trade” on the label lately. While chocolate is one of the sweetest treats on earth, it also has a dark side – and I’m not talking dark chocolate.
“Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of West Africa and Latin America. West African countries supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa market. The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a variety of chocolate companies, including some of the largest in the world.
In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on West African cocoa farms. Since that time, the industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public.” (Read more about cocoa industry human rights violations on foodispower.org.)
The good news is that there are organizations working hard to make it easier for consumers to understand what kinds of businesses and practices they’re supporting when they purchase things like cocoa, cocoa butter or chocolate. As I mentioned last week, cocoa butter is a key ingredient in all our soaps. My cocoa butter comes from a local chocolatier who uses organic, Fair Trade cocoa and cocoa butter.
Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to processors, handlers, retailers and consumers that the cocoa beans were produced in a way that does no social harm. Fair Trade-certified cocoa only comes from certified farmers and cooperatives that have been organized to economically strengthen their members’ so they can provide for their families and educate their children.
So what does that mean for you? When you buy a bar of Poppy Soap, you’re ultimately investing in better global businesses practices – from San Luis Obispo, California to Latin America to to West Africa. That’s something to feel good about.
Want to learn more about Fair Trade? Check out fairtradeusa.org.