The range of food we have accessible to us really is quite amazing. It’s strange to think not so long ago we didn’t have wide access to fine coffee, rich chocolate and juicy mangoes, and we can often take these for granted. Where would we be without our cacao, pineapples, mangoes, coffee and coconut oil?
The problem with the massive increase in food importation is that we don’t necessarily question where our food has come from, or who has been exploited in the process. Many foods and produce like tea, mangoes, cacao/cocoa, coffee and bananas (to name a few) are often involved in slave labour, child labour and all round atrocious working conditions. It is beyond horrendous that people all around the world are having to suffer from the result of our luxuries, but it is happening and it’s happening all the time.
And it isn’t just food either - the fashion industry is one of the most unethical areas of trade, with workers forced to work in atrocious conditions, with little to no pay. We’ll be talking about this more in next week’s post, but the main thing is that we can change the industry into an ethical, safe place.
What are some of the problems?
- workers are not paid fairly which means they cannot live off the money they earn, or afford to send their children to school meaning generations are without education
- slaves are often used to harvest produce
- child labour if rife in lots of these trades as it is cheap labour
- the working conditions are incredibly poor, and any injuries are not compensated for by the company
What can we do?
- choose Fair-trade, UTZ or other equivalents which ensure workers have a fixed fair and regular income, meaning even if the crops don’t do well one year, workers will still be paid fairly
- boycott brands who do not use sustainable of fair methods
- choose fair over unethical products to send a message to the industry as to which products are ethical - it really does make a difference
Putting your money where you mouth is really does work, whether that be for shopping locally, or plastic free, or fair-trade. The main way we can force the industry to change is by showing that we want FairTrade (or equivalent) to be compulsory, and that we don’t want to buy luxuries at the expense of someone’s life. Of course it’s important to know that workers still need work, and if everyone were to stop buying certain products it would leave them without work, but by putting pressure on companies to change they ethics, it slowly but surely forces them to change their practices to please customers, resulting in a healthy and happy work force.