Yup – that’s right, sugar got me tangled in a moral crises at Target. (I know, I know – my first problem was shopping for groceries at Target). There were at least 30 varieties of Domino, Store Brand, and Organic sugars available, but none of them carried the Fair Trade logo.
In her book “Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Everyday Choices,” Julie Clawson talks about the plight of farmers in poorer countries where many raw materials, like cocoa and coffee, are grown. She mentions these farmers have few levers for negotiation and as a result are often underpaid for their crops to the point where feeding their own families is difficult. In order to be certified “Fair Trade“, companies must work directly with communities to ensure that workers are paid a living wage for their efforts – enough to cover basic needs, education for children, and to save a little for the future. Additional money is put into a common fund for the community to save towards improvement projects like running water or school infrastructure. In “Everday Justice,” Julie explained that coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate are products where fair trade certification has become quite popular, so it is relatively easy to find fair trade alternatives in grocery stores or retailers. Check out some facts about fair trade sugar on the FairTrade International Site.
So there I was in Target, with the same moral dilemma I had at the sock gondola two weeks ago. Do I cave and just get something here? Or hold off? This time, I did the right thing and held off. Less than a week later, on a quick trip to Shoprite, I found Wholesome Sweeteners brand fair trade sugar tucked into the “Natural” set of the baking aisle. This struck me as apropos – it is 100% natural that people should be paid a fair, living wage for the work that they do. Everything else is unnatural, and unfair.
What you can do!
Email Target, and request they carry fair trade sugar
Email Domino and ask that they investigate fair trade certification on sugar cane that is sourced internationally.
Visit your local grocery store and look for fair trade sugar in the “baking” or “natural foods” aisles.
NOTE: On its corporate site, the ASR Group (Domino’s parent company) states that it requires all suppliers to certify that they comply with the labor laws of the countries in which they do business and that all suppliers preserve the basic humanitarian rights of their laborers. However, there is no mention made of random checks of suppliers to ensure ethical labor practices are being followed.