What do you think of large corporations selling some Fair Trade Certified products?

We're encouraged to see large companies sticking their toe in the Fair Trade waters, because it suggests that Fair Traders, activists, and the public are indeed slowly changing the rules of how business is done. No longer can companies afford to appear indifferent to the needs of farmers or the planet.

However, our goal 20+ years ago wasn't to spur big companies to make token efforts, but to really reform their practices comprehensively. So we're going to keep pushing for more, and hope others will, too.

So when it comes to shopping we encourage folks to not only seek out products that possess certain attributes (like organic or Fair Trade), but also for enterprises that are really committed to goals like sustainability and economic fairness and decency in everything they do, not just with the chocolate they make on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. That, of course, is the dilemma as increasingly so many green products come from old-school corporations who remain largely unreformed and as driven by bottom-line thinking as ever.

That's why we think that in end the most important product "attribute" is actually who is behind that chocolate bar, or bag of coffee, etc. For example, most don't realize that Dagoba and Scharffenberger are divisions of Hershey's, or that Cadbury owns Green & Black's. That way you can be sure that your shopping dollar is helping create the world you want - something that is largely not happening no matter what you buy from Corporation X, Y or Z. When it comes to chocolate and cocoa almost all North Americans actually have plenty of good non-corporate choices that include Equal Exchange, Cocoa Camino, Divine, Sweet Earth, Alter-Eco, Art Bar, Theo, Rapunzel, etc. And if the organic/Fair Trade goodies from companies you can respect are still hard to find consider stocking up when you can, or ask your local store to carry the products you really want, or shop online.

After that, sure, go ahead and look for organic and Fair Trade ingredients and such, but be sure to read the labels carefully. For example, both Dagoba and Green & Black's only offer one Fair Trade bar each, and neither uses Fair Trade sugar.

Given that it can be hard to know which corporations own which organic brands Michigan State Prof. Phil Howard has done everyone a favor by doing that research for us. See https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/organicindustry.html