Why Fair Trade Matters

I want to take some time to talk about fair trade, both within the context of our current system as well as how it might look going forward.

Let’s start with a fact: Our current economic system, whatever you want to call it, is exploitative. It is built on exploitation and slavery, and there isn’t really any way to contest that. From chocolate to textiles to seafood, I could endlessly list industries – almost every single one is touched by this kind of exploitation on an industry-wide scale. Enter fair trade.

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Ethical Consumption

I wanted to take some time to discuss something I’ve noticed recently.

The first incident was a week or so ago when I was in a restaurant with my family and there happened to be M&Ms on the table. My sister asked if I wanted some and I declined, saying that I didn’t feel good eating chocolate that had most likely been harvested with child labor (and possibly child slavery). My dad then told me to stop talking about it.

The second incident happened yesterday when a couple of us went to the movies. Something very similar to the M&M incident happened, but regarding Godiva (which apparently might be a bit better than Mars at sourcing their chocolate?). And in this case, it was kind of seen as a joke or something that could be ignored.

Now it’s not that these people aren’t liberals — my parents and sister are pretty liberal, as are my friends here at Brown. But a curious phenomenon happens when it comes to what we buy.

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