As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been very busy with a water-damage-related homeowner problem. But since it ’tis the season, I thought I’d revisit a classic Siren post on Valentine’s Day and fair trade. (And please send me positive home-repair thoughts.)
Fair Trade Valentines
Taking a break from caucus fever and found some info about fair trade certified goods for Valentine’s Day (and other holidays).
According to TransFair:
Over 90% of gift flowers in the US are given to women. In addition to fair wages, Fair Trade certification requires the farms provide employee benefits including 12 weeks paid marternity leave and childcare. In response to the required guidelines, some Fair Trade Certified flower farms have given many supervisory positions to women, which represents an enormous shift.
And the flower issue is a big deal considering that in 2007, 214 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day. The holiday represents 25% of the money made on flowers each year.
Read more about how child slavery is entangled with flowers and chocolate as well as how fair trade goods help women, children and the environment, after the jump.
Fair trade flowers are better for the environment:
Fair Trade certification ensures that farms comply with rigorous environmental standards governing the use of pesticides, conservation of water, treatment of wastewater, protection of ecosystems and more. There is an extensive list of agrochemicals that are completely prohibited on Fair Trade farms, and others that must be phased out over time.
More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of conventional chocolate are sold every Valentine’s Day. But while Valentine’s Day chocolate is sweet for the US, it has been heartbreaking for cocoa producers. Most cocoa farmers are trapped in poverty and forced to rely on child labor and even child slavery. In fact, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), US Department of State and UNICEF, tens of thousands of children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast.
The truth behind chocolate is not-so-sweet. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer, providing 43% of the world’s cocoa. And yet, in 2001 the U.S. State Department reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture about cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations since they don’t own them.
Chocolate comes from cocoa, and the cocoa supply is controlled by a small number of companies worldwide that are allowed to function with limited accountability. Hershey’s and M&M/Mars alone control two-thirds of the $13 billion U.S. chocolate candy market.