Did slaves pick your coffee beans?

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012


As coffeehouses continue to spring up and chocolate is used to make yummy summer treats, I want to make our great community aware of the issue of fair-trade products versus non-fair-trade products that most affect our children in the world today.

According to the International Labor Organization, 250 million children are at work, and 120 million of these children work full time in slave or bonded labor situations. Global exchange reports 240,000 children are sold as slaves, and according to the U.S. State Department, about 15,000 of these children are between 9 and 12 years of age. The worst offenders of these enslaved children are the cocoa (chocolate) and coffee industries — with 70 percent of the world’s chocolate being harvested by enslaved people.

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Leo N. Tolstoy stated, “The essence of all slavery, consists in taking the product of another’s labor by force.”

Good people, you can do something about this horrific fact.

First, educate yourself about fair-trade products. Fair-trade products are inspected by independent sources, which make sure that adults are working for a sustainable, fair and set wage under healthy working conditions and that no children are working at these facilities. Second, stop buying coffee and chocolate that is not fair-trade. Third, encourage the stores you frequent to start purchasing fair-trade products. Finally, write to the influential people in your government and let them know that our children are not going to be sacrificed so that we can drink a cup of joe and savor a piece of chocolate.

Walmart and Hy-Vee both stock fair-trade items in small quantities. Grace Lutheran uses and sells fair-trade chocolate and coffee (I believe they will be selling again in September on the first Sunday of each month) without profit, and I will be speaking with my church board about this very important issue. Together, one by one, we can change a child’s future.


Apryl Gorton

Albert Lea