Did you know that the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every day? That’s 100 pounds of sugar each year. Yeah, it’s a lot.
Much of the world’s sugar comes from Africa, where it’s easy to grow sugarcane. The problem is that because the sugarcane industry is so huge there, workers are largely unprotected. Child labor is often used, wages are low, and conditions are dangerous.
This is why it’s so important that we buy fair trade sugar. We eat a lot of sugar in this country, and the sad fact is that we eat more every year as retailers and food industry giants slip more and more of the sweet white stuff into processed foods. Africa’s sugar production is expected to grow by 4% over the next decade.
The good news is that according to the Fair Trade Federation, the fair trade label is slowing having a positive effect on African sugarcane workers. Here’s an excerpt from a wonderful article on AllAfrica.com, about how fair trade is helping sugarcane workers in Malawi:
Although its presence in sub-Saharan Africa’s sugar industry is recent – Swaziland and Malawi sugar companies have only received their Fairtrade label in the last few years – the conditions of sugar farmers and mill workers have significantly improved here since the late 90s. One such example is the Kasinthula Cane Growers Cooperative in Malawi.
As one of the larger sugar companies in the region with a collective of over 500 farmers, it is an example of the benefits that Fairtrade labeling can bring. According to a Fairtrade case study of the cooperative, the ethical label has resulted in increased financial remuneration for farmers and workers; development projects to improve access to clean drinking water; the addition of new machinery to aid workers and minimize hard labor; and future plans to build schools, clinics, and roads.
This is just one small example that shows buying fair trade really does have a positive effect in the world. We might not ever get to see it here in the US, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Buying fair trade anything makes a positive difference to someone else, whether you’re buying a fair trade bag, fair trade bananas, or fair trade sugar. Your purchase helps directly support a farmer, not a multi-national corporation or export industry. And often, the profits from that fair trade purchase are used to enhance the quality of life for an entire village or reason.
So, the next time you’re in the grocery store, please stop and consider buying fair trade sugar, and what that purchase might mean to someone living an entirely different life thousands of miles away. T
Filed under: Uncategorized on March 16th, 2013