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The Taste of Justice - Fairtrade this Easter

 

There was confusion and panic at our office last Friday. Someone had taken the communal biscuits.

In their place stood a large dairy milk rabbit, smiling with white chocolate teeth, and raising an eyebrow in my favourite - dark chocolate.

It sat there for hours, through morning tea and past lunch. No one was sure who put it there, and so no one knew if it was communal, or belonged to someone who had left it there for a meeting later. Office etiquette clearly dictated that it either needed a sign to permit eating, or it needed someone to take a piece before the floodgates opened.

So, on my fourth trip of the day, I relented. 

I decided that I’d go first – on one proviso – that the chocolate was fairtrade.

Ever since reading Kevin Bales’ book, Disposable People, I’d been aware that potentially hundreds of thousands of kids were forced to work on cocoa farms, deprived of the chance to go to school. It just didn’t seem right that something I enjoyed so much would come from depriving others the chance to get ahead in life. 

The same concern has driven campaigns by organisations like Stop the Traffik to get chocolate companies to improve their supply chains, and was this concern that in part drove Cadbury to take their dairy milk chocolate fairtrade across the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Fairtrade, alongside guaranteeing farmers a decent price for their produce, includes safeguards against child labour. As the BBC’s panoramashowed last week, fairtrade doesn’t automatically stop child labour from happening, but it creates a transparent system for fighting it – such that farms found to be using child labour were de-certified until they removed child labour.

But back to the challenge of the mysterious chocolate rabbit. With no packaging in sight, I had to delve through the bin, carefully using a chopstick to rifle through used tea-bags, lunch leftovers and what looked to have formerly been cake, but that was now covered in a layer of fungus. And, I found it – the fairtrade mark on a torn piece of foil. 

I broke the bunny in half, snapped off the dark chocolate nose, and carefully placed the head back on the rest of the body. Half an hour later, our office had taken care of the rest.

And, licking my lips, I re-affirmed my commitment to only buy, give and eat fairtrade chocolate this easter – just as I said I would on this facebook group. I’m doing it not just because the chocolate tastes great, or because it guarantees farmers a better deal – both of which it does. I’m doing it because it sends a clear signal to companies, their staff and shareholders that I care about where my products come from.

Each time I buy faritrade, I’m reinforcing a message to these companies that consumers care, and creating more pressure for more fairtrade products. Because as I see it, changing corporate behaviour isn’t just about complaining and boycotting, it’s about congratulating and buying. 

We were able to put this into practice last August when Cadbury announced that they were going fairtrade. The day the announcement was made, the Global Poverty Project team were presenting in Dunedin, the town that also housed the main Cadbury chocolate factory in all of New Zealand. So, to say thanks for making the switch to fairtrade on their dairy milk range, we asked our audience to join us the next morning at the Cadbury factory. Literally hundreds turned up the next morning – with flowers, cards, and yes, even chocolate – to show their appreciation and to demonstrate that making decisions that are good for the world’s poor can also be good for business.

 

 

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