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Archive for : fair trade

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day

Fair trade. It is a term that gets thrown around a lot in eco and labor-savvy consumer circles, but what does it really mean? Find out by celebrating World Fair Trade Day!

In short, fair trade is about people and the planet, and about creating and consuming the products we love in ways that are fair to both. For farmers and manufacturers, that means getting paid a living wage for the work they do. Coffee, tea, and chocolate are likely the most widely-known fair trade products, but just about anything that is grown or made by people can be fairly traded: spices, produce, soaps, clothing, jewelry – even home goods.

On May 10, join 100,000 people around the United States and Canada for one of the largest fair trade events in the world! Help promote fair trade products and justice for farmers, workers, and artisans. Get started by learn more about fair trade at the video below. Then, join one of the great events happening all over the country event, or create your own!

Seattle Leads Charge for Fair-Trade Chanukah Gelt

The chocolate coins that Jewish parents give their children on Chanukah can be big or small, and wrapped in silver or gold foil. But almost all gelt is made from chocolate grown by child slaves, Seattle abolitionists say.

According to Robert Breiser, Repair the World director at the University of Washington Hillel, half of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa, where forced child labor remains a plank in many cocoa plantation’s business plans. The U.S. State Department estimates 100,000 children pick cacao in the Ivory Coast, and 10 percent of them may be enslaved.

“I’ve met some of the folks who’ve been enslaved in the chocolate industry, and some of the things they describe are the worst things you can imagine in the world,” Breiser says. “They work 14-16 hours a day They’re made to sleep in the fields, where there are pesticides and dangerous animals. In some cases, the kids are pretty regularly raped.”

Since chocolate manufacturers such as Hershey’s mix cacao from around the world, it’s nearly impossible for fans of conventional chocolate to avoid supporting the child enslavement system.

Major chocolate companies have thus far resisted calls for reform, repeatedly denying knowledge of abuses and delaying the creation of a certification system for cocoa plantations. One of the few successful ethical chocolate awareness campaigns was staged in Australia, where a children’s boycott of slave-made chocolate persuaded Cadbury to begin producing fair-trade treats.

Closer to home, the human rights organization Global Exchange this year is sponsoring its fifth annual Reverse Trick-or-Treating program, in which participants are asked to swap fair-trade chocolate for the Tootsie Rolls; Reese’s peanut butter cups and other questoinable candies they’re offered on Halloween. And in Seattle, a group of Jewish activists are hoping to incubate a national movement promoting fair-trade Chanukah gelt.

Currently, only two companies — California’s Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates and Divine Chocolate, based in London — produce Chanukah gelt, but Breiser says they can’t keep up with demand. Members of The Kavana Cooperative and the University of Washington Hillel are now trying to persuade Theo Chocolate to join the ranks of fair-trade gelt makers.

“We’re going beyond just finding gelt somewhere,” says Breiser. If more fair-trade gelt was available, he says, more Jews could celebrate the holiday without propping up child exploitation and help raise slavery awareness in their religious communities.

But with Chanukah just two months away, Theo hasn’t made any gelt-related commitments. A spokesperson for the company did not return multiple messages seeking comment.

“Gelt is not a drop in the bucket, we know,” Kavana Cooperative’s executive director Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum says, citing the enormity of the child slavery crisis. “But it’s developing a vision where we can take this issue nationwide.”

Weekly Torah: Parshat Shmini 5770

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

In a world of endless choice, why should we place limits on what we can have? One Jewish response is found in Parshat Shmini, which contains the core of Jewish limits on food consumption with a series of laws concerning permitted and prohibited creatures. ((Leviticus 11: 1-43.)) It is from these laws that Jews have come to exclude pigs, camels and rabbits from our diets, along with shellfish, lizards, most insects, and birds like eagles, ostriches and ravens. While the Torah further refines some of these categories (for example, animals must chew their cud and have split hooves), there are no overarching, theoretical criteria for the limits on the Israelite diet, except to suggest that most tasty things that are not plants are forbidden from our plates.

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