Wednesday, August 23, 2006

fair trade is the Linux way

I have recently purchased a large quantity of fair trade chocolate. Fair trade means that the people who produce the products will be paid a fair price for their products which will enable them to send their children to school, pay for adequate health-care, etc. Paying a small price premium on products such as coffee and chocolate usually makes no notable difference to the living expenses of someone in a first-world country such as Australia, but can make a huge difference to the standard of living of the people who produce the products. Also fair-trade products are generally of a very high quality, you are paying for the best quality as well as the best conditions of the workers.

I will share this chocolate at the next LUV meeting, hopefully the people who attend will agree that the chocolate is both of a high quality as well as being good in principle and that they will want to buy it too.

The Fair Trade chocolate I bought cost $6.95 per 100g. I went to Safeway (local bulk food store with low prices) to get prices on other chocolate to compare. Lindt (cheaper Swiss chocolate) costs $3.09 per 100g and has a special of $2.54. The Lindt and the Fair Trade chocolate are both 70%, but the Fair Trade chocolate is significantly smoother, has a slightly better aroma, and a better after-taste. So the Fair Trade chocolate costs slightly more than twice as much as Lindt, but I believe that it has a quality to match the price. Then I compared the price of a cheap chocolate, Cadbury Old Gold chocolate is also 70% cocoa and costs $4.29 for 220g, this makes it between 3.5 and 4.4 times cheaper than the Fair Trade chocolate. But if you like chocolate then Cadbury products probably aren't on the shopping list anyway. I believe that the Fair Trade chocolate I bought can be justified on the basis of flavor alone without regard to the ethical issues.

All Linux users know what it's like to have their quality of life restricted by an oppressive monopoly. We are fortunate in that it only affects us in small ways, not in our ability to purchase adequate food and health care. As we oppose software monopolies that hurt us in the computer industry we must also oppose monopolies in the food industry that hurt people in third-world countries. The fair trade programs are the best way I know of doing that. Hopefully after tasting the chocolate many LUV members will want to buy it too.


Moritz said...

You should try the fair trade coffee, as well, it's great. Thanks for this article. I hope it will encourage people to buy more fair traded goods!

Ben said...

I've noticed that people who *choose* to use open source software, often buy fair trade items on principle and for the item's quality, avoid buying veggies from certain countries and buy CDs/DVDs to support bands, TV shows and films that they enjoy. I know I do!

hendry said...

Fair trade Tea in the UK is also quite good. The price is competitive with other competiting brands, such as Tetley 'Organic'.

When it comes to chocolate, I search out what has the highest cocoa.

But I do not trust for one millisecond that money goes where you expect to. It rarely does.

Choose and buy for quality.

etbe said...

I've tried high cocoa chocolate, for a while I regularly ate 80% and occasionally went as high as 99%.

But of recent times I've found that 70% is strong enough for me and rarely eat chocolate that is stronger. Note that above a certain level higher cocoa content does not mean better quality.

As for whether money goes where I expect it to, I'm sure that the fair-trade organizations have plenty of enemies in the food industry who would jump on any change to accure them of fraud. I'm sure that they are watched very closely from all sides and don't have a chance to do anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

wow. chocolate seems to be expensive in australia...

in germany, we can get 70% chocolate for as low as 1,60€/100g. an i've seen fair trade chocolate (not 70% though) for 1,19€/100g

matthias said...

Great you support fairtrade in LUGs! I'm also at the moment introducing fairtrade coffee in our office - hopefully it wins the race with the other brands ;) Meanwhile, we're doing a fairtrade campaign in Switzerland to increase the supply of fairtrade offers, especially for new consumer products, too.

bannor99 said...

That sounds very expensive, at least compared to Canada. Several months ago, I made the decision to buy Fair Trade chocolat exclusively, or go without ( except for purposes of comparison, which means I'd be buying 2 brands at the same time).
I've found several brands that are both Fair Trade AND Organic that are 15-40% more costly than Lindt at 100g

So far, they are all good enough - I won't always buy Organic but I won't compromise on Fair Trade, even as a gift.
I've long since taken the same stance on coffee but I usually buy that for other people - it's only a very occasional treat for me.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the supermarkets use things like fair trade chocolate, or organic foods, as a way of determining which customers are less price sensitive.

Almost all of the price difference will go to the supermarkets' pocket.

So while your statement about taste justifying the extra price might be true for you, it isn't true to think that the hugh markup on fair trade chocolate goes straight to the farmer.

kym said...

I think fair trade is so worth it. From chocolate to clothing and whatever else. Too many people are suffering for the luxury of others.
I also think the quality is much better and so worth the money. But as someone commented supermarkets no dounbt profit as it tends to be less exy from independant retailers.