I'd be willing to bet most people in my church don't even know what Fair Trade is.
It's basically this - Fair Trade products ensure that the farmers of coffee, chocolate, bananas, rice, sugar, and other products are paid a fair wage, a living wage so that they can feed their families and send their children to school and all of the other things that we Americans enjoy and take for granted. It also ensures that no child labor or child slavery is used in the growing or production of the products.
What people are probably not aware of is that very often the farmers who grow the coffee we drink each morning are paid less for their crop than it cost them to grow it. These farmers generally live in Third World countries where poverty is a way of life. Being paid so little by wealthy countries like the USA keeps them in a state of poverty.
Worse than that, 40% of the chocolate Americans eat comes from the Ivory Coast of Africa where it is very common for children as young as 7 or 8 to be forced into child slavery and made to work hazardous conditions in the cocoa fields. All so that we can have something we don't really need anyway.
Somehow knowing that makes the candy I eat a little less sweet.
Oh, and then there's this ....
Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from
within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgement. All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.
James 5:3-6 ( The Message)
So, yeah, Fair Trade is a good idea. It does cost a bit more, but ... well.... it's worth it for several reasons:
- It allows me to know that I'm doing something that truly helps those who live in poverty - not just by giving them a hand out that will not last long, but truly helping them to be more self-supporting. It's the difference between justice and charity.
- It also tastes better. If you've never tried it, it's really awesome! I once ordered Fair Trade coffee online and when it arrived the roast date was the day I ordered it. You can't get a lot fresher than that.
And then, it just seems to me to be the right thing to do.
Tonight we tried the Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean Chip Bar. All I can say is .... wow! Doing good never tasted so good!
You can read more about Fair Trade here