Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reflections on Fair Trade Chocolate

A year ago this week I did the craziest, coolest, most notable thing that I had done in my life (uhh..still). I flew to Lima, Peru in search of answers about the fair trade industry, and then spent three days on an organic cacao farm in the middle of the jungle. I have never learned so much in one short week, or had one individual make such a lasting impression on me as my dear farmer, Carlos. Now, it's a year later. I can still remember how I felt during my stay in Peru and the emotional 'high' I came back to the States with.

This week I have been  re-reading my original post about my trip and remembering all of the things I learned and all of the wonderful people that I met. Fair trade, as opposed to 'organic', is not a buzz word. It is not a marketing ploy, it is a trading system regulated by organizations like the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and the United Nations. It is a system put in place to protect the people who do not have the resources to protect themselves in an international market. Crops like coffee, chocolate and sugar cane biologically cannot be grown in certain areas of the world, yet they are consumed in every area of the world. This is where the problems start.

I could go on and on about the importance and ethical arguments, but that's not what this post is about. This week is about remembering Carlos and his family, his community in Echarate, Peru and the kindness they showed me: a random American girl with a college education and an iPhone. Fair trade is a hard thing to understand and shell out the money to support if you haven't seen its effects first hand. Which is why I'm reminding myself of what I learned, but most importantly who I met and who is still affecting my daily life one year later.

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