Cookies and the global economy
Today I began to get the itch to follow a family holiday tradition and bake a bunch of cookies. Every year my mother used to make more than a dozen varieties of sweets, from yogurt-covered pretzels to iced gingerbread to colored dough that was squeezed in patterns from an antique sort of press. While I don’t usually go all out like she does, putting frosting jackets and sprinkle buttons on gingerbread men, it’s still fun to bring delicious treats to work and watch them disappear. As I was considering what to make, I remembered my resolution to be very conscious of my holiday purchases this year. It turns out that even the choice of what kind of chocolate to use for fudge has implications for the conscious consumer.
Buying fair trade chocolate is important because cocoa is mostly produced on small family-owned farms where farmers receive about a penny for a candy bar selling for 60 cents. In some countries child labor is used on cocoa plantations. Because you don't want unethical labor conditions sneaking in to your holiday cheer, Global Exchange asks that you join their Sweet Smarts Campaign, participating in actions like fair trade caroling or taking a pledge to purchase only fair-trade cocoa and coffee. Global Exchange is a great resource for information about the global economy and why fair trade is important. Basically, in a global economy each of our individual purchasing decisions has ramifications for the whole system, and everyone in that system--here or abroad--deserves a living wage. Read more about fair trade principles and find links to products on our Conscious Consumer Marketplace page.
If you're looking for fair-trade cocoa and chocolate, it's safe to assume that if it's not marked "fair trade" it probably isn't. Our Conscious Consumer marketplace lists some certifed products. If you want to extend your fair trade principles beyond your cooking, look for a fair trade alternative gift fair in your area. There are also tons of regional organizations dedicated to selling crafts at a fair price for the artisans.
Gosh, and apparently vanilla is another product to watch. And to think that I just used to worry about burning my cookies. Too bad buying all fair trade won't ensure that my cookies turn out like my mom's.