I was pleased, and a bit surprised, to learn that my "neighbor," Honest Tea of Bethesda, Maryland announced it is committed to expanding its Fair Trade Certified™ offerings to include its entire tea portfolio. Recently I had the chance to hear from Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO, about concerns that to increase its commitment to certified tea Honest Tea would also have to certify all eligible beverage ingredients, such as sugar. As a company founded on the idea of being 100% organic, and given the unique structure of the sugar industry, Honest Tea was not sure it could create beverages that include all certified ingredients and offer consumers an affordable beverage. Looks like a compromise was reached.
I, for one, am pleased that Honest Tea has remained engaged with Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair) so that its company values and perspectives can influence the system. Who knows, it may also influence, Honest Tea's shareholder, Coca-Cola. I also consider Coke a former neighbor, as I grew up near its headquarters in Atlanta, GA, and it is a long-time donor to my alma mater, Agnes Scott College.
Also in my current neighborhood, down Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC, Bus Boys & Poets on 5th & K, NW, announced an addition to its great line-up of community events. Along with Global Exchange, Busboys is hosting a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate, October 26, 2010, from 6 - 8 pm. I will join a panel featuring Divine Chocolate, Fair Trade Federation, Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum. If you are in the area, I hope you'll join us to share your reactions to the documented realities of the conventional chocolate industry.
Photo of me with some kids not forced to work in cocoa fields, taken by Lutheran World Relief, Ghana 2006.