On Tuesday, February 6, our presenter was Chris Matthews, a peace and justice advocate from Foundry United Methodist Church. Matthews gave us some background information on what it means for a product to be labeled/certified Fair Trade. She emphasized that with fair trade, the farmers receive a living wage for their products i.e. cocoa, coffee and tea. In many countries where these raw products are grown, there is often little concern for the use of pesticides or for the impact on the environment. 

Matthews also cited as a problem, the exploitation of women and children. Women are often sexual victimized and children, in many cases are stolen away from their families and forced to work 12-15 hours a day. These children do not have an opportunity to attend school. Much of this takes place in Central and South America and in West Africa. With Fair Trade products these violations and abuses of person and the environment are not the case. In addition to chocolates, flowers grown in these countries and shipped to the United States and elsewhere, are often exposed to pesticides and less than favorable growing conditions. Children are often exploited and laborers work under conditions that are paramount to slavery. 

For more information about Fair Trade, go to www.fairtraderesource.org.