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Saving the World One Shirt, One Burger, One Chocolate Bar at a Time: Fair Trade

September 23, 2015360Views
t’s been very easy for me to establish a set of beliefs about ethics and right versus wrong in my life. Treating others as I would like to be treated and showing kindness to animals aren’t hard to follow in my direct actions. It’s been a whole different story with my indirect actions. It’s been easy to mouth that conventionally raised poultry, beef, and pork is much worse for my health, the environment, and the animal than humanely and sustainably raised. Practice hasn’t been easy at all.
I I have a small butcher’s shop down the road, but no one has been able to answer my questions on how the animal was treated despite their large signs proclaiming that they are “better” than conventional. All I see is their claim that they take the top 5% of meat based on the USDA rating, which I consider worthless. Costco has organic beef which they claim is all grass fed with about 50% being 100% grass fed, though it’s not on the label so I’m always wary. Sam’s Club has 100% grass fed beef though which seems a reasonably safe bet. However, I might be good on the beef but chicken I’m still working out. Organic doesn’t seem to require pasturing—it’s important to note that this is true for poultry and beef due to a loop hole in regulations for beef. Neither do “free-range” and “cage-free” labels require any really access to grass and bugs. “Cage-free” just means they can’t be in cages…they can still be crowded into a single structure. “Free-range” means that the chicken has had access to the outdoor for 5 minutes a day. A small plot of dirt the chickens never enter counts.

So far I’ve resigned to buying eggs and as much of the meat as I can afford from a local farm who pasture-raises his animals and sticking to the grass-fed ground beef while I attempt to work out the rest of the labeling mysteries.

Recently I’ve realized that I’ve been concentrating on my health via the conditions my protein had been produced in to the exclusion of knowing the conditions where all the other products I consume have been created. A pair of events really jarred me into this realization.

First, a woman I work with mentioned buying her clothes in a consignment shop so she could reduce her reliance on companies using sweat-shop labor as she couldn’t stomach paying a company that treated works in a way she would never treat another person. It really vibed with me and I suggested it to Adam who agreed but pointed out that it still originated in a sweat-shop. Maybe we could by American-made clothing? Possibly consigned to keep it affordable?

Next, I read about forced child-labor. I don’t remember exactly how I found the article online, but it detailed children in west Africa being sold or kidnapped and forced to work. Starved, beaten, and cruelly used harvesting cacao. I’d just bought a 5 pound bag of cacao to make shakes for Adam and myself and could find “Fair Trade” no where on the bag. I had never thought to check anything I purchased beyond coffee! I researched further to find that, yes, Fair Trade cacao existed and could easily be found, but there had been no reports of child labor in South American cacao plantations. I quickly checked the bag and found “Product of Latin America”. So, not Fair Trade, but at least not produced with forced child labor.

It hit me…if coffee and cacao could be produced as Fair Trade, why not clothing? I started researching and found plenty of companies out there doing just that. The prices were, contrary to my expectation, comparable to some of the more recognizable brands I bought such as Express or Buckle. I suspect this is because they pour their money into the people producing the cloth and clothing rather than marketing, relying on people like me searching in their relatively small niche market. Still, I rarely buy clothes from Express or some other such company because I prefer to wait until a huge sale or I see them in Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx, which I doubt carries much Fair Trade clothing. So I checked out Ebay. after entering a few different brands, I found a handful that had regular listings (just google fair trade clothing and you’ll find lists of the brands). There were enough that I could find a good deal, in my size. $80 dress in new condition for $40? $80 pants for $25? I can do that, especially when it means trading advertising for ethics.

It makes me happy to know that, in small ways, we can change the world. I vote in every election I can but, from what I’ve seen, voting with your money is just much more effective. It really is powerful.

Despite all the “helpful” regulations of the food industry, we’ve been getting more and more disgusting options (broil litter as cow feed anyone?), until demand for clean food began spiking and we began seeing more brands and grocery chains dedicated to supplying that demand.

“Gluten-free” was completely unknown not too long ago, it’s been less than 10 years since someone would look at you like you had grown fangs if you ordered a “burger no bun”. Now most restaurants I walk into have gluten-free options on the menu or even a completely separate menu. It wasn’t government intervention, it was pure demand.

Fair Trade food and clothing is growing as well. I hope one day it becomes the norm for everyone to be treated ethically.

Source: Rx Primal Blog

Becky Davis

Becky Davis

Hello, I'm Becky! I'm here to help you make the Paleo diet an easy part of your daily life. With my quick recipes, tips, and strategies readers and clients add healthy practices and stick with them! To hear a little more about my background, check out the "About Me" section or find me on social media.

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