Where does your food come from? This is not the question you might think it is. This does not necessarily refer to the store, the local farm, or another country. What this question is asking is who is responsible for the food that makes it to your table? I, myself never really thought about this question until the other day.
I was one of around 100 people to preview a movie shown by Tugg at a local movie theater. The movie was “Stand with me” (a true story). This is a true story of a 9 year old girl, who was moved to help and do something concerning child slavery and sextraffing in the US and around the world. It was a simple idea for a normal 9 year old. This movie had profound impact on me and made me sit up and take notice.
This link will let you see what this movie is about and when it will be in the theaters. Nice for the whole family. http://www.standwithmemovie.com, you can find this on line by searching “Stand with me”.
So many children and adults are brought into slavery because of a pretense. Parents in third world countries are often approached by someone offering to give their child a better life. These parents are told that their children will be given an education and a life they would never be able to provide. Wanting the best for their children, the parents turn their children over to these people. These people have no intention of giving their children a better life. These children are taken and sold into slavery. These children can range from ages four and up. These children work on farms, in factories, rock quarries, and anywhere else they are needed for free labor. They are often not fed or are given very little to eat. They often do not have a place to sleep; they sleep on the floor, on the sidewalk, or on the ground. These children also are not allowed to take baths or given clean clothes. They get up very early in the morning, and worked till dark; this could be 10 to 12 hour days. Not only are these children used for free labor, but the children also endure physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. These children grow up in this environment, and become adults working as slaves. Many of these children are born into slavery. As adults, they are trying to work off a debt, a debt they can never pay back. Since they are bought with a price, and charged for food, a place to sleep, and other accessories this is added to their debt and thus this debt will never be paid off.
I have said all this to say this, the food you buy in the grocery store, comes with a heavy price; a price not measured in dollars. There are many people and companies who are trying to eliminate this practice of free labor and sex trafficking. Slavery and sex trafficking cannot be solved overnight, but all it takes is one person, one company to decide to do their part.
As stated above, the movie “Stand with Me” is a true story. This nine year old girl heard there were children like her and her younger brother, who were sold into slavery and have an unplayable debt. She wanted to buy these children and make them free. Her parents explain to her that would be over $100,000, but her parents were willing to listen to her idea. This nine year old girl wanted to sell lemonade. Her parents told her that this would take a lot of lemonade. She wanted to sell lemonade for a whole year, 365 days, winter, springs, summer, and fall at $2.00 a cup. The $2.00 a cup wasn’t going very well. After talking with their parents, this nine year old girl decided to sell her lemonade for free and ask people to give what their heart led them to give; with this idea of giving what their heart led them to give, things started to turn around for this nine year old. After learning of the reason behind the lemonade sale and the request to give what their hearts led them to give, people started giving $10.00, $20.00, and as much as $50.00 per cup. The word started to spread of this nine year old and her lemonade stand. She caught the eye of a few entrepreneurs who wanted to get involved and contribute to her mission. Her idea grew to a larger scale. At the end of the year, she had reached her goal of over $100,000. With the help of the entrepreneurs she started to bottle her orange juice and apple juice and sell it with the fair trade seal on the bottles.
Now, you may be wondering what is meant by the word fair trade. You may have noticed on some of the products you buy such as coffee, chocolate, flowers and many others display the name Fair Trade on their labels. Fair trade was developed to help consumers purchase items that come from farms that have been provided fair wages for adults and where child labor is prohibited. Fair Trade also certifies safe working conditions. Farmers are paid a premium for their goods to help support health care, education and this premium is agreed upon by the farmers and the workers. Fair Trade eliminates the middle man, the one responsible for child and adult slavery. Fair Trade empowers farmers and their families and their workers with financial incentives. Products with the Fair Trade label guarantees that the farmer was given a fair price for their goods (crops, flowers, coffee, tea, sugar etc…). Being involved in Fair Trade practices helps farming families rise above poverty through fair trading NOT AID. The bottom line is Fair Trade practices help put food on the table, give fresh water, and let children be children. Keeps children in school and out of slavery and protects them from abuse and keeps families together.
When shopping, keep an eye out for the Fair Trade seal. It might cost you a little more for that candy bar or that cup of coffee, but knowing you are helping to keep children from being abused and used in child labor might be worth it.
The larges chocolate company (Hershey) has said by the year 2020 they will completely be involved in the Fair Trade for all its cocoa. Hershey has said until they can make the complete switch they will continue to help develop programs that will participate in building schools and helping educate farmers in the latest farming techniques. West Africa produces about 70% of the world’s cocoa and is one of the biggest sources of child labor, and human trafficking. Research has shown that over 1.8 million children work on these cocoa farms. This research suggest that the children that work on these farms range in ages from 17 and as young as 5. These children do not attend any form of school and are subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. They are in constant contact with pesticides and work out in extreme heat with little or no breaks, no food, or water. It has been said that these children involved in slave labor makes billions of dollars for the Hershey’s company. After hearing this, I will never see a Hershey candy the same.
Here are a few companies who participate in Fair Trade.
- · Ben& Jerry (ice cream)
- · Starbucks (so you coffee drinkers can drink your coffee and know that you are helping keep children and adults from slavery).
- · Panera bread’s coffee
- · Dunkin doughnut’s coffee
- · Cloud Nine/Tropical Source
- · Country Choice
- · Deans Beans
- · Divine Bars
You can search your favorite chocolates and other foods to see if they participate in Fair Trade.
Here is an app you can download to let you scan products barcodes to see if the product is part of the Fair Trade community. Free2Work
I hope this article has helped you in some way. My hope is that it will have you look more closely at the products you buy and think more of the people who help get it to your table. You can search on line to see where you can purchase Fair Trade items. Many organic stores participate in Fair Trade and many other stores also, you just have to dig and search for their products in the stores, but they are out there.