Fair Trade Chocolate Meditation

By Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud
November 17, 2015

fair trade logo

 

We had a great event with our friends at MCIC all about Fair Trade! We watched the dark side of chocolate and then discussed our relationships with children in the Ivory Coast enduring child slave labor trafficking due to 1st World chocolate consumption. How do we reach out our hands to them in friendship? Mindfulness and Fair Trade! We started with a mindful appreciation of chocolate through meditation guided by Sherri from Moksha Yoga Kildonan.

Then we added some extra food for thought from Elyse Cook, Public Engagement Coordinator at Manitoba Council for International Co-operation so if you could join us follow these steps

1- buy a fair trade chocolate bar; you’re looking for this symbol

fair trade label

2- break off a small piece and let it melt on your tongue while reading the story below

3 – commit to switch and only buy fair trade chocolate.

Here’s the story of your chocolate!

Where do the things we buy, eat, wear, and consume come from?

Who plants, grows, harvests, and processes these things?

What is the story of this chocolate, and how is it different from the story of other chocolates?

The cocoa for this chocolate was grown in Ghana or maybe the Ivory Coast, the sugar in Costa Rica. Grown by farmers who work in a cooperative and are able to share their earnings, tools and resources. If one farmer has a bad growing season, or their crop is damaged by hail or drought or flood, the cooperative can support him until the next season.

These farmers are paid a fair wage for the work they do each day, and are paid a fair price for the harvest they sell to processors. Because they make enough money to support their families, their children can go to school. This has long term benefits for the community because educated children get married later, have fewer but healthier children of their own, and are able to break a cycle of poverty.

Each time someone buys one of their products, the community as a whole receives a social premium to invest in a project that will benefit everyone. It could be a new school, a water or sanitation system, or to expand lending programs so that others can get credit to take a training program or buy a tool that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work.

All the while, the environment and health of the workers is being protected. Pesticides that are banned here in Canada are also banned on their farms. A conscious effort is made to reduce waste and water usage. These are sustainable farms meant to enhance the development of the community, not harm it.

When chocolate is made this way, otherwise disadvantaged producers can earn their own means to a better life for themselves and their communities. This is a fair trade system.

Unfortunately, not all chocolate comes to us in this way. In fact, most chocolate does not. The story of most chocolate includes horrific accounts of exploitation. Too often children are forced to work on very dangerous farms, wielding machetes in the hot sun. Adults are forced to work over 12 hours a day most days of the week, and are exposing themselves to chemicals that we wouldn’t allow here. The lack of regulations means that not only are people at risk day-to-day, but there are also long term health effects like cancer and respiratory illness. There are cases of children being born with deformities because of the harmful exposure their parents had to accept.

This is not fair. Especially, when we know there are other options. We know we can do better for farmers, their families, and people living in poverty in the Global South.

So I ask you today to take the mindfulness and gratitude from this meditation with you as you live as a responsible consumer. Think about where that purchase is coming from. If your money is your vote, who are you voting for? Appreciate that the choices you make can have an influence here and around the world.

 


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