We recently invited a group of students over to our house for an evening Christmas party. We were going to play the secret santa game, read some stories, and have dessert and hot coco. I noticed we didn’t have any hot coco in the house so I decided to run to the store to get some before the party. Because of the time I went to the closest store, our local Safeway. I knew our Safeway sold Fair Trade coffee and was hoping I would have some luck with coco as well. But this was not the case. Instead, there were 5 basic brands, the likes of which I’m sure are found in most grocery stores. There was the Safeway brand, which I must say I do not know anything about. The “local” Ghiradelli chocolate brand (local only because I live just north of San Francisco). The flavored Starbucks brand. And the Hershey and Nestle brand. There were no Fair Trade offerings for hot chocolate at this Safeway.
So which one to buy in the pinch. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about the Safeway brand so I chose to leave that one on the shelf. When it comes to Hersey’s and Nestle I can no longer bring myself to buy any products put out by these two manufacturers. Both Hershey’s and Nestle get a D+/D grade on the Free2Work app and Hershey’s is said to be lagging behind the rest of the cocoa industry when it comes to supply chain transparency. That left me with Ghiradelli and Starbucks. Ghiradelli gets a C- grade from Free2Work and Starbucks is not on the list. I know Starbucks does have 2 Fair Trade labels in their lineup of coffee so I thought they might be the better choice for the time being. So I did it, I bought the Starbucks brand Hot Chocolate but I left feeling unsatisfied.
The bottom line is that I now need to find where I can buy Fair Trade Certified Hot Chocolate here in my town. I have two options, Big Johns Market and Shelton’s Market. Both of these markets sell a wide range of Fair Trade goods and I am confident I will be able to find what I am looking for there.
Is it really that big of a deal though? We’re talking about hot chocolate here… The problem for me is that once I am aware that the products I use could have been produced by slave or child labor, I feel a responsibility to choose a different product. And in doing so, I feel empowered. I can choose something different. I can show what I believe in by what I choose to buy.