Fair Trade - Feel Good by Doing Good

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Two of the most popular consumer products in the world are chocolate and coffee. Both are luxuries and either purchased to treat oneself or as a gift to treat others. They already make the buyer or recipient feel better but that can be taken one step further by purchasing fair trade products.

Coffee and Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate are grown by indigenous people in difficult conditions for little profit. Many times the price received by the farmer does not cover the cost of operations. Fair Trade is a certification by an outside organization that ensures the producer receives a livable price plus a small premium that is used for things such as healthcare, education, farming technology, safety, and environmental improvements. The certification also ensures that no pesticides are used or other harmful chemicals as well as no child labor. It encourages sustainability so that farmers can continue growing their crops and maintain the supply process for consumers while improving quality.

Certified options are much more prevalent in coffee than they are in chocolate. The premium in fair trade coffee is approximately 20 cents per pound. Any increase in cost of a morning brew should be pennies which to most would not object. Some of the larger names like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks as well as smaller roasters offer fair trade coffee. Ben and Jerry's is another household name that offers approved ingredients in cocoa and vanilla among others. The options for purchasing fair trade chocolate and cocoa are far more limited than coffee. Specialty retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joes or online retailers have some offerings.

Many farmers who produce these treats do not earn enough to afford them. Producers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast where most cocoa is grown, have never even tasted chocolate. Most consumers may not mind paying a little more for these products. The retailer would benefit by offering a higher quality feel good product increasing public relations and sales. In the case of chocolate where fair trade options are much less, the consumer would need to take it upon themselves to request approved products from the retailer.

Fair trade coffee and chocolate benefit the seller, buyer, giver, and recipient. It enhances an already valuable treat worthy of gift giving and allows the giver and recipient to feel good by doing good. The farmers may eventually enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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