AnnaBanan’s Blog

Step Into My Mind…

Is It Really Fair-Trade? June 6, 2009

chocolate_scar chocolate scars

I know that this is a really important issue for many people and the truth of the pictures of what some Africans go through is horrific. Trafficking and Slave Labor have become major issues that have been on the rise for a long time now and many people, organizations, and churches have made it a resposibility and priority of theirs to raise awareness of these major issues in our lifetime. I personally am one of those people who will actively speak against slavery and will do my best to raise awareness, but my purpose here is to challenge what we’ve been thinking about it lately.

fair-trade-chocolate-gg-02

Everyone has been making a big deal about “Fair-Trade” chocolate and rightly so, it is a big deal and it is a BIG PROBLEM that people (particularly in Africa) are suffering over this chocolate that we so love and desire. They are modern day slaves who work and work and work and do not get paid. It has been said that if they ever try to run away and are caught, the people in control cut off the bottom of their feet so that they will never ever think of running away again (and they physically will be in horrible pain if they attempt to)! If that does not make you angry and furious, then I really do not know what will.

This is horrible! People have rights and my argument as a Christian is that we are all made in God’s image (Imago Dei) and that everyone is valuable before the Lord. Christ made the boldest statement by His death because right then and there  He made a statment about ALL of us…He said that we are sooooo valuable that God died for us! Now, I’m not here to argue that point (That deserves a whole blog post of it’s own), but I’m just trying to express to you that modern day slavery is utterly unacceptable and I am completely against it…but here is my point…

I have a friend that was in Ghana (West side of Africa) for 2 years and he will actually be returning there again. He is a business man and he definitely has seen a lot of things. I was talking about fair-trade chocolate with him and he said that it was all BS! I was shocked and I wondered what he meant. He explained to me that if you ask anyone there (in Ghana) about all of that fair-trade stuff, they’ll tell you what’s really going on…

He went on to say that the people who approve the chocolate as “fair-trade” are people IN AFRICA, who just get paid a little more to say that It IS fair-trade when it really ISN’T. He basically said that nothing actually is fair-trade and that they LIE and say that it IS. And what do we do here? We pay EXTRA for the “fair-trade” chocolate because we are convinced that we are helping out a good cause and are basically boycotting slave-trade chocolate…but the Truth is….it’s ALL SLAVE-Trade! My friend said that he couldn’t believe it at first, but then he had to adjust to the reality and he came to grips with the fact that the world is corrupt.

We are told to look for labels like these on Chocolate bars in order to know that they are fair-trade…

ftcert  fairtrade_bw_logo

(Note: I am not saying that people who sell fair-trade chocolate necessarily know whether it is or is not fair-trade)

I know this might be like a total shock to some of you, but I think that this is probably very true that these are all lies that we are being fed. I personally have not gone into depth to research where all supposed “fair-trade” chocolates come from, but they most likely are not really fair-trade. It is my personal opinion that if people really want to end the slave-trade chocolate industry, they should TOTALLY stop eating chocolate all together. Or really, really do your research and see if those fair-trade chocolates come from the U.S. (which would most likely really be fair-trade). But if it comes from a third-world country…I really doubt that it is fair-trade. Or, if you are to eat chocolate at all, eat it extremely sparingly and go for the fair-trade either way because that is probably a better option either way.

But it is not only about chocolate for me now. Another friend of mine opened my eyes about another very desirable thing. We were talking about engagement rings and the whole industry that has made us (the consumers) to believe that an engagement ring MUST be a DIAMOND ring. This is a completely false idea that we have bought into for a while now. It has actually been a very recent idea in comparison with all of history. This idea that Diamond rings = Engagement rings has only come up within this (our) lifetime, really…

iDiamond_P    51828-53med

Though this is not my argument, and plus, I have bought into it too because I do want a diamond ring (just being honest — reasonably priced of course). But, what really surprised me is what my friend was saying. He said that people pay tons and tons of money for diamonds because they are convinced that diamonds are rare. But the truth of the matter is that there is ONE company that owns ALL diamonds and they store away a ton of it and only put a certain amount on the market. This was a shock to me as well and it is so upsetting to find out about these really sneaky and evil acts that take place, all for MONEY!!!

SO, they have diamonds that cost thousands of dollars (well, because it really is true that “Diamonds are Forever”) but still, a diamond is so expensive all because of their LIES! I mean, you can find diamonds for good prices, I guess…But this is not the only problem I have with this issue. It is the same thing that is going on with the Chocolate and I will explain…

africa diamonds

Even within the Diamond Industry, we have what are known as “Blood Diamonds” and we also have diamonds that are recognized as “fair-trade” Diamonds! After hearing about the whole chocolate scandal, I began to question this whole concept as well. Can we really trust that the “fair-trade” dimaonds are INFACT fair-trade? I Think NOT!

The people are controlling the information that we recieve. Those who try to do the right thing and the good and honorable thing by seeking out fair-trade diamonds are probably still paying for diamonds that are NOT fair-trade (KEEP in mind that these people pay WAY MORE for “fair-trade” diamonds). There really are some extremely shady things going on behind closed doors. And honestly, the reality that a lot of Africans are SLAVES is totally Out and ABOUT in the OPEN, yet our government is really doing nothing about it. I’m not even going to go on to speak about our government right now. But honestly, now the big businesses, instead of opposing such things (slave labor), are using it to their ADVANTAGE! It’s disgusting!

I guess I have just come to this point in my life to conclude that a lot of the information that we recieve about things that are done the “right way” are actually done the wrong way! The lies are probably so much that we would not be able to distinguish lies from honesty. It’s just a real sad trip to think about these thnigs and to realize how corrupt our world is, and all for what? For MONEY! It’s just really pathetic…

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3 Responses to “Is It Really Fair-Trade?”

  1. I remember talking to you about this… and i didnt want to believe it… i talked to sako who brought up the point that if they are getting paid a little, its still considered a lot for them… that we cant compare whats considered little for us to whats considered little for them… like we have to consider their cost of living and stuff when we ask how much they are getting paid… but regardless of that, i think i’ve come to accept the fact that they are probably still starving and dying either way… and the fact that big businesses, with help from the government, are making money off people who are trying to help the slaves in Africa… this is just disgusting… im shocked and i dunno what to say…

    • annabanan Says:

      Ya, I’m glad that you are disgusted because this is definitely a problem and I am convinced that it is real.

      But about the people getting paid a little, I was talking about the specific person in charge (that is in control of the slaves) that gets paid a little extra by whoever is buying just to sign off a paper or agreement that it is fair-trade, when it really isn’t. So, the workers are still slaves and don’t get paid, but that one person in control does.

  2. jené Says:

    if you would like a diamond you can feel good about, make sure it comes from Canada or Australia. had to search long and hard for an engagement ring 25 years ago.


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