Fair Trade HalloweenFair Traders like yourselves know that most mainstream chocolate comes from cacao plantations in West Africa, where forced child labor has been documented, and we’re working hard to change that.

For the second year, we’re teaming up with Equal Exchange and YOU to Fair Trade Your Halloween this October.

Coming soon, we’ll be launching 31 fun ideas and activities (and a contest!) that will have you drinking Fair Trade coffee, taking a Fair Trade pledge, hosting movie screenings, baking delicious Fair Trade goodies, and giving out Fair Trade chocolates to trick-or-treaters.

Not only that, you’ll soon be able to order a Halloween action kit to help spread the Fair Trade word.

The action kit will include postcards to hand out to friends, discount coupons for Equal Exchange mini chocolates to hand out, decorative papel picado, a Halloween candy bag, a window poster to display your commitment to Fair Trade, a DVD copy of acclaimed documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate, and some Equal Exchange minis to enjoy and show the big chocolate companies that you won’t tolerate forced child labor in your chocolate.


Woody Guthrie Festival posterAttention Woody Guthrie fans, Oklahoma expats/descendants of expats, folk music fans and history buffs:  Global Exchange invites you to join us on a “Radical Oklahoma” tour culminating in the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, OK, from July 7 to July 14.

Spend some time learning about the tumultuous events of the early twentieth century that shaped Woody’s politics and united white tenant farmers, native tribes, and African-Americans in a series of uprisings in the forested hills of eastern Oklahoma.  Then relax and enjoy 3-4 days of music at the folk festival. We’ll stay in pretty lakeside cabins in a nearby state park.

OK Red Flag copy

Oklahoma’s original state flag, banned 1917. redflagpress.com

The 46th state has a reputation for being perhaps the most conservative state in the union.  In fact, it has a radical past unmatched for activism and racial solidarity – an activism exemplified in its most famous native son, Woody Guthrie, the radical Dust Bowl troubadour.  The “Okie” diaspora peaked during the Dust Bowl migration to the West Coast in the 1930’s, but it was also prompted by attacks on Wobblies and other radicals in the early 20th century who fled the state.  This diaspora of the left (and eventually of the right, as descendants became more conservative) has had a major impact on politics and culture throughout the US but most particularly in eastern California, eastern Oregon, and other regions where Okies settled.

Join us in exploring this forgotten history, meet some modern Oklahoma radicals, and celebrate with music on the weekend!

NLD office- Nancy:KirstenThe following post was written by Nancy Penrose of Seattle about her recent trip to Burma with Global Exchange.

In April 2013, I was a member of the first-ever Reality Tour delegation to Burma.  I chose to go with Global Exchange to this country that is also known as Myanmar* because I wanted to get beneath the typical tourist surfaces; I wanted to learn directly from the people themselves about their launch on the road to democratic reforms. By the end of the trip, I had been rewarded with a wide spectrum of conversations and insights. I felt humbled by the time that many busy people devoted to meeting with us.

We  spoke with leaders of the Generation 88 Students, many of whom spent years as political prisoners and who now work to promote a peaceful and open society. In Yangon, at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political party led by 1991 Nobel Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, we met with a woman who holds an NLD seat in Parliament. Others we spoke with on this trip included hotel owners and managers, professors and businessmen, a Buddhist nun who has founded her own school, medical doctors, leaders of micro-finance programs, puppeteers, and even comedians who have paid the price of imprisonment for making jokes about the government.  We chatted with vendors of tourist souvenirs and their children who were helping out during a school break.Kids as monks

Our delegation was small, only four of us, accompanied by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, Cho, who was also our translator. It seemed that everyone we spoke with has high hopes for their country even as they assess and acknowledge the great challenges that must be overcome to continue on the path of democratic reforms.

Myanmar is emerging from 50 years of dictatorships that have morphed through military juntas and socialism and a kleptocratic group of powerful and wealthy men close to the military and known as “the cronies.” Significant steps toward democracy were taken in 2008; a quasi-civilian government was established in 2010; and in April 2012, NLD members stood for election and won 43 seats in Parliament. Reforms are launched, but five decades of dictatorships have left what is often a crumbling or nonexistent physical infrastructure and a citizenry that often needs empowering and educating about a government’s responsibilities and duties to its people.

We visited four places–Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake–and were delighted by beauty in each. In Yangon, there was the gleaming gold zedi, or stupa, of Shwedagon Paya, a temple that every Burmese Buddhist tries to visit at least once in his or her life. We were there on a Sunday, a day of no work for many Burmese, and we were surrounded by worshippers, families picnicking in the shade of pavilions, and novitiate processions where young boys preparing to join the monkhood were carried on the shoulders of friends and families under golden parasols.Shwedagon Near Mandalay, we strolled the famous U Bein Bridge and watched a farmer herd his flock of hundreds of ducks, saw women bent to their task of harvesting groundnuts from fields exposed and planted as Taungthanam Lake retreated with the dry season. View from bridge We spent a day on the Ayerarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River traveling from Mandalay to Bagan and were grateful for the shade of the woven rattan roof. (Temperatures in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan were hitting 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) or higher every day.) We watched the sun turn red as it cast its final rays of the day over the thousands of 11th- to 13th-century temples spread across the plain at Bagan. And finally, we admired the skills of the fishermen of Inle Lake who balance on the ends of their slender wooden boats and, in a delicate ballet, row with one leg wrapped around the paddle so that their hands are free to cast and retrieve their nets.

These indelible scenes are experienced by many tourists who travel to Myanmar, but as part of the Global Exchange delegation we added depth and context. We discovered the serene persistence and determination of a young Buddhist nun who runs a school in the suburbs of Yangon and who worries about the coming rainy season when the lack of drainage infrastructure may leave the school marooned by water for days at a time. We heard from Bagan’s Director of the Ministry of Culture about the challenges that arise owing to the limited funding available to preserve and protect this ancient and rich heritage site. We spoke with tourism officials who lament the lack of enough hotel rooms to serve the burgeoning numbers of visitors to Myanmar. We learned that in Yangon there are only 2,000 rooms considered tourist quality, even as tourist arrivals in Myanmar reached 1,000,000 in 2012, compared to some 800,000 in 2011. Toward the end of our trip, as we left the beauty and sweet cool air of Inle Lake, we met with the leader of the microfinance group Muditar, based in Nyaungshwe at the northern end of the Lake, who described their partnership with the Shanta project in Colorado and the midwifery, water, and coffee plantation projects they are undertaking with the Pa O tribal villages in the nearby mountains.Fishing Inle lake

For me the trip was a kaleidoscope of experiences in the company of fellow travelers who care passionately about equality and positive social change in our world. My photos, journals, and souvenirs are all attempts to help keep the journey alive. Now, when I read about events in Myanmar, I understand so much more, I care, I pay attention. And I watch for ways to help.

*Regarding the question of using Burma or Myanmar, I refer readers to this article  in Mizzima, a media organization formerly in exile that is now based in Yangon.


Would YOU like to travel to Burma and experience it for yourself? Join us in building people to people ties in Burma on an upcoming journey co-sponsored by Ethical Traveler.

Trip Dates: October 28, 2013 – November 8, 2013

It’s been a year since we sent out our Five Way (you haven’t thought of) to Fair Trade your Holiday and what a year it is has been!

This year Global Exchange Fair Trade purchases helped install a water treatment plant in India to filter 2,000 liters of water each hour. We created a new month of activities for Halloween and Fair Trade month, delivered kid’s Valentines to the Board of the Hershey’s company, made delicious Fair Trade S’mores in the summer and had a significant victory when Hershey’s agreed to go 100% certified by 2020.

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock, express our gratitude and prepare to meet the new year with renewed energy to make Trade Fair! Here are a few of our suggestions for this year.

  1. Buy less stuff: Our good friends over at The Story of Stuff (and winner of the Global Exchange 2012 Human Rights Award) encourage us to choose family over frenzy this holiday season and to think carefully about the full life span of the products we consume. Where does your gift come from? Who made it and where will it go when we don’t want it any more? A gift of time and love doesn’t have to clog our landfills and exploit labor to be meaningful.
  2. Shop Fair Trade: When you shop Fair Trade you set an example of responsible consumption rooted in the celebration of craftsmanship; the enforcement of workers rights; and the empowerment of artisans and their communities around the world. You get quality, beauty and tradition in one-of- a -kind, hand-made products. From gemstone earrings set in hand-etched sterling silver in Bali, to messenger bags hand-cut from the inter tube of big rig truck tires in El Salvador, and 100% cotton table linens block-printed in India, there are many beautiful and functional gifts. At the origin of each piece, is a story of preserving culture, supporting community and sustaining the planet.
  3. Don’t buy SodaStream: One of the most popular gifts this season is the do-it-yourself soda machine made by SodaStream which carbonates water at home. But don’t do it! People who care about human rights should know that the product is made in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land in violation of international law!
  4. Give the Gift of Membership: A great way to give a gift that doesn’t take up space but keeps on growing is to give a Global Exchange membership. When you do that you’re connecting someone you care about with an international movement to build a better world.
  5. Be Generous: Times are still hard for many people who are struggling to recover from storms, from the economic downturn and from personal trials. If you can afford it, give as much as you can to those who are making things better and if you don’t have a lot of money, share your smiles, time, songs and encouraging words.

What are your Fair Trade Holiday ideas? Tell us in the comments.

Have a Happy and Fair Trade Holidays!

Spring is the time of the year for renewal and hope, and there is still work to do for Fair Trade activists. Whether you celebrate Passover, Easter or neither we’ve got activities for you.

Thanks to all your support, the Hershey Company has taken a first step to trace its supply chain and prevent child labor, however, the company still has a long way to go to ensure all of its products are free from abusive child labor. With our “encouragement” it just might happen.

Here are four things you can do to make this Spring a Fair Trade one.

1) Passover Seder: At this year’s Passover Seder use this Haggadah Supplement: Next Year, an End to Forced Labor in the Cocoa Fields and tell the company about it.

2) Easter Bunny: For Easter, children can send a message to Hershey’s that they want Fair trade by coloring and writing postcards to send the message that Every bunny loves Fair Trade.

3) Sign the petition: At this time of year, there is no more popular product than Cadbury Chocolate Easter Eggs. While Cadbury has demonstrated its commitment to selling Fair Trade chocolates in the UK, Ireland, Japan, South Africa and Australia—the same cannot be said of Cadbury chocolate in the United States. Join us in telling Cadbury and Hershey to sell Fair Trade chocolate in the US!

4) Host a party: Show the movie Dark Side of Chocolate to learn more about child labor in the West Africa cocoa industry. This powerful film is a great way to recruit new Fair Trade Activists so that next year will be the year Hershey’s Raises the Bar.

Happy Spring!

Colored-in Valentine for Hershey

Valentine’s Day is a major chocolate buying holiday, but gifts for your sweetheart should not come at the expense of worker rights. Forced labor, child labor and trafficking continue in the cocoa industry in West Africa.


Here’s how YOU can make a difference:

Tell Hershey to Have a Heart

Make Valentines for members of the Hershey trust calling on Hershey to end child labor, forced labor and human trafficking in its cocoa supply.

  • Create your own personalized Valentine telling Hershey to use Fair Trade cocoa for its products, like the iconic chocolate Kiss. Address your valentine to Hershey Trust at 100 Crystal A Drive, Hershey, PA 17033. Please mail your Valentines to Hershey by February 17, 2012.
  • You can also download a Valentine to color and send here.
  • If you make your own Valentine, please scan it and send the image to the Fair Trade Project at fairtrade@globalexchange.org. We’ll post some of our favorites online.

Why Hershey? Almost all major chocolate companies have begun to commit to using independent, third-party programs to certify that their cocoa suppliers comply with international labor standards, but Hershey continues to lag behind the industry.

Collect signatures on the Raise the Bar Hershey petition calling on Hershey to eliminate the child labor, forced labor and trafficking in their cocoa supply. Download a petition here.


Make your Valentine chocolate Fair Trade!

Fair Trade provides a solution to global economic injustice! Fair Trade principles include a fair price for producers, the prohibition of child labor, community development, environmental sustainability and direct relationships between consumers and producers. See Green America’s chocolate scorecard.

Host a Screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate

You can raise awareness by hosting a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate in your school or community. This important documentary exposes the ongoing use of trafficked child labor in the cocoa industry. Visit our Dark Side of Chocolate page to obtain a copy and toolkit, including discussion guide and background information. Visit Fair Trade Towns USA to download a list of more films about Fair Trade.

Educate students about Fair Trade in the classroom with these Fair Trade curricula resources. These classroom activities are great for audiences of ALL ages.


Give a Global Exchange Valentine Gift Membership.

Show your love of social justice by giving those you love a Global Exchange Valentine’s Day gift of membership. (Hurry, these are available only while supplies last, and they’re going quickly!)

Happy Valentine’s Day, from all of us here at Global Exchange!

Cocoa tree ripe with pods

On January 30th, after years of being targeted by organized consumer Fair Trade actions including creative holiday kid’s actions, brand jamming contests, protests and rallies at flag ship Hershey store and shareholder meetings, Hershey has finally made a move!

The Raise the Bar Hershey’s campaign which has been calling on Hershey to go Fair Trade, collected over 100,000 petition signatures through Change.org and other sources, and organized petition deliveries, shareholder resolutions, and Facebook actions to blanket Hershey’s wall with messages.

Two days ago Hershey’s announced that it will make a commitment to purchasing Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa for all of its Bliss Chocolate products and it will invest $10 million dollars in education and its smart-phone CocoaLink project to teach West African farmers to be more efficient.

So what does this actually mean?  Have we won an important first step or are we being duped?

*The following sentence was updated on 3/27/2012 for clarification.

Original sentence: Hersheys’ CocoaLink, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a project that aims to increase yields and productivity on small cocoa farms by introducing new plants, techniques and inputs to small farmers and provide them with real-time advice through a cell phone network.

Updated sentence: According to World Cocoa Foundation Communications Manager Marisa Yoneyama, “CocoaLink is possible through a public-private partnership between The Hershey Company, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and The Ghana Cocoa Board.” In early 2009, the World Cocoa Foundation announced a new, $40 million program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 14 chocolate industry companies to significantly improve the livelihoods of approximately 200,000 cocoa farmers in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.

The (cell phone network) idea is that by increasing yields, farmers will have more income and the need for child labor will decrease.But will this work, and how would you know for sure?

Since passage of the Harkin-Engel Protocol over 10 years ago, Global Exchange’s Fair Trade program, along with the Raise the Bar Hershey’s Coalition, has been calling for a code of conduct for suppliers that would ban child labor and put measures in place to enforce such codes. Following Harkin-Engel, the whole chocolate industry committed to ending child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in their cocoa supply chains. A decade later, hundreds of thousands of children continue to labor in hazardous conditions in West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, and the US Department of Labor has noted five West African nations whose cocoa may still be tainted by forced and/or child labor.

It’s not clear how increased yields would actually eliminate the worst forms of child labor but monitoring is a good first step.  This is the first commitment that Hershey has made to using an independent, third – party certification system to ensure that its cocoa is grown sustainably, including the monitoring of forced and child labor.

This commitment is a welcome first step for Hershey to improve its supply chain accountability and shows that it is responsive to consumer pressure.

You did it!!  Your petitions, actions, questions and demands were heard!

This announcement also demonstrates that The Hershey Company acknowledges the severity of the labor abuses that taint the West African cocoa sector, where Hershey’s sources the majority of its cocoa.

So why aren’t we happier?

Well, Global Exchange has been committed to Fair Trade since its beginning in this country, and we believe that Fair Trade certification is the best way to achieve the goal of supply chain transparency, a fair price for farmers, and the elimination of forced child labor in the production of our chocolate.  There is a difference between Rain Forest Alliance Certification and something that is Fair Trade certified.

Fair Trade independent third-party certification addresses poverty, sustainability and empowerment of producers (and workers) in the world’s poorest countries through guaranteed minimum prices plus an additional social premium to be invested in community development.  Rainforest Alliance certification, also independent third-party, encompasses all aspects of sustainability as well, but does not offer guaranteed prices, relying instead on the farmers’ capacity to increase yields and efficiency and negotiate for themselves in the global marketplace. According to Rainforest Alliance’s own website:

Fairtrade labelling standards are designed to tackle poverty and empower producers in the world’s poorest countries, giving them a guaranteed price for their products. Rather than emphasizing how products are traded, Rainforest Alliance certification…focuses on how farms are managed.

Cocoa (or cacao) pods, where chocolate comes from

Increasing yields and efficiency may be a way to increase income temporarily, but without price guarantees it only means more cocoa for Hershey’s.  Relying on the market to set prices and farmers’ incomes means that when yields increase, prices will drop.   What will the efficiency and higher yields cost in terms of chemical inputs, strain on water resources and natural sustainability? Rainforest Alliance focuses on management rather than workers, on efficiency rather than justice. Hershey’s, you picked the wrong one!

Any model that is not truly sustainable, that chooses short-term gain for individual farmers over community development will not produce the conditions necessary to eliminate trafficking and forced child labor.

So is this a victory or not?

Yes, we should recognize this as a positive step forward but we can’t overstate it or we risk becoming too complacent and leaving the public confused.

Hershey’s has taken a step forward by:

  • Responding to consumer pressure and Fair Trade activism: WE have convinced the largest chocolate company in the U.S to change the way it does business!
  • Acknowledging the problem.
  • Agreeing to third party verification.

We would like Hershey to continue taking more steps. Yes, we can celebrate. And then get back to work.


You can’t think of everything, can you?

The holiday season always seems to take over like a train barreling down the tracks faster than you can control. You want to live up to your values, appreciate your friends and family and have fun during this season.  Here are five ways you can accomplish all three:

Equal Exchange Singing a Fair Trade Carol

1) Fair Trade Caroling is a great way to share the message of Fair Trade with your neighbors and community, so put on your Santa hat and have some fun!

To get you in the spirit, here are some clips of carolers making music and sharing the ideals of Fair Trade:

Ready to Start Caroling? Great, here’s all you need to know: First, download lyrics from our web site or make up your own. Next gather your carolers and start singing. Don’t forget to film it and send us the short video clip link of your Fair Trade Caroling adventure so we can share it with the world.

Fair Trade Gift Membership Package

2) Shop Fair Trade.  Yes you probably had thought of that, but did you know there is a way to give a Fair Trade gift that won’t take up much space in your friends tiny apartment but will still make a big difference in the lives of small producers and farmers? It’s true. Simply give a Fair Trade Membership Gift Package. Your gift supports Global Exchange’s Fair Trade program and commitment to growing the Fair Trade movement and includes all sorts of cool perks. Check it out online here!

Of course, if you are looking for unique Fair Trade products, pop by one of our Bay Area or DC stores to find a wide selection of Fair Trade products. Or use the Fair Trade Federation product locator http://www.fairtradefederation.org/ to search for Fair Trade products throughout the US.

3) Petition HersheyWith all those bowls of chocolates at holiday parties wouldn’t  it be nice to be able to nibble without worrying about whether a child’s forced labor was used to produce it?  Over 50,000 signatures have been collected encouraging Hershey’s to “Raise the Bar” by making the switch and they have heard us. We’d like to reach 100,000 by Valentine’s Day. Add your name here.

4) Bake Something Delicious – Instead of Hershey’s kisses or guilty gelt in your stocking, try making your own delicious Fair trade treat – Here is a recipe for Zarah’s own mud pie as featured in our sister organization CodePink’s cookbook Peace Never Tasted So Sweet:

Fair Trade Mud Pie

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup Fair Trade cocoa powder
1/3 cup Fair Trade powdered sugar
6 tablespoons melted margarine

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and press it into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Cool.

1 cup Fair Trade powdered sugar
1 cup (6oz) Fair Trade semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped nuts (Fair Trade almonds)
1 1/2-2 pints Fair Trade coffee ice cream (Ben & Jerrys!) make sure it is slightly softened. [If you want, can make one pint FT chocolate, one pint FT coffee ice cream. !! yum]
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Heat up the FT sugar, FT chocolate chips, butter, cream & corn syrup in a small heavy duty saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. (Can look online for good tips on how to melt chocolate and get to a good consistency.)
Once smooth, remove it from heat and stir in the organic vanilla. Cool it down until it is slightly warm.

Drizzle 1/3 cup of chocolate mixture in bottom of crust, sprinkle FT chopped almonds. Layer 1/2-1 pint of FT coffee ice cream, using thin scoops. Freeze for one hour to one hour and a half.
Repeat layering with remaining mixture, nuts and ice cream until ingredients gone or no more room in pie crust.

Freeze for two more hours or until pie is firm then enjoy! You have yourself and Fair Trade mud pie. Yum.

5) Be Generous It’s been a rough year, many of us don’t have a lot of money to spare, but generosity of spirit enriches. Donate what you can afford to your favorite Fair Trade organization or if you can’t do that, share your time, your attention and your good energy.

What else haven’t we thought of? Share your Fair Trade holiday ideas that we’ve left out.