Easter Treats: How do yours rank?

I hope that everyone had a happy Easter!

When I hear Easter, one of my first thoughts is chocolate, of course. How many of you like chocolate? Or perhaps the more appropriate question would be how many of you do not like this sweet delicacy? As Easter approaches each year, stores and markets stock their shelves with the season’s tastiest chocolate delights, and the options are limitless. Craving pastel minis? Head for the m&m’s. Maybe creme-filled eggs stimulate your tastebuds a bit more. Well, Cadbury Eggs are there for you. And, for many, Easter simply isn’t Easter without chocolate bunnies. I think we can all admit to having consumed at least one of these choco-treats at some point in our lives, yes?

Chocolate bunny

But should we be allowing ourselves to have all of these themed goodies? Setting health concerns aside, what about how it’s made? This is where we encounter the concern of Fair Trade. What is Fair Trade? According to fairtradeusa.org, “Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.” So, what exactly does this mean? Take a moment to consider all of the chocolate out there. Every supermarket, convenience store, rest-stop, evening clothing shops sell this classic indulgence – If you want chocolate, you can get it. Unfortunatley, not all of our favorites are just, so to speak. Only some are produced by the means of equally treated farmers that are appropritately compensated for their labor. In other words, those producing the cocoa that we seemingly couldn’t live without are frequently exploited and disregarded. Fairtradeusa.org acknowledges that, “Cocoa farmers are often forced to sell their harvest to middlemen who rig scales or misrepresent prices, and media reports of child slavery show the stark contrast between the delicious treat and the difficult conditions of the people who produce it.” Not fair.

Cocoa beans

Still a bit confused? The Guardian posted a relevant quiz regarding this issue that may help to clarify how Easter chocolates relate to Fair Trade. Check out which fall under this category, and which don’t make the cut.

Next time your scoping out Easter treats to shovel into baskets, consider the ethical position of various brands. Was it fairly produced? How about sustainably? Not only will you be helping yourself and your environment, but also the farmers that work day in and day out to fill our shelves with the world’s best, in my opinion, candy.

Sustainable Harvest Makes Lasting Connections [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

Sustainable Harvest, our Corporate Conscious Wednesday Winner, sets a great example of how to bring investors and producers together. Specifically, Sustainable Harvests is a fair trade specialty coffee importer. The company works with stakeholders and outside investors to empower farmers who work with sustainable practices and buy from sustainable supply chains. In fact, in 2009, Sustainable Harvests invested two-thirds of its operating expenses (1.1 million) in non profit farmer training and activities to “create a global trade model that better serves fair trader farmers.”

This Portland based company works with farmers in Mexico, Peru and Tanzania, helping over 200,000 farmers compete in specialty coffee markets. By closely connecting farmers, investors, suppliers, and transporters, Sustainable Harvests has succeeded in creating an inspirational business model that benefits both businesses and consumers. Check out more about Sustainable Harvests at http://www.sustainableharvest.com/.