For the love of Fair Trade products

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By Hannah Hayes

My dad used to bring my mother, sister and me a little something on Valentine’s Day, not my brother. Love in the ’50s was a bit stilted, but Steve’s exclusion did make me feel a bit special about being a girl.
I’ve come a long way with my female identity since then. So much so that one year I told my husband I didn’t give a hoot about Valentine’s Day, that it was just a commercial holiday and he shouldn’t get me anything. He listened. I can remember sitting in my bedroom crying and being consoled by my daughter. How to explain the confused feelings about yet another holiday?
Valentine’s Day can be challenging, especially if you desire that wonderful, antioxidant-rich health food — chocolate. There are serious problems with child and slave labor on the Ivory Coast where cocoa beans are largely harvested. “Fair Trade,” a certification system, protects the consumer from enjoying a sweet treat that was harvested under difficult working conditions. The system ensures a fair price and empowers farmer-owned cooperatives.
Evergreen and Conifer provide some sources for Fair Trade chocolate. This is a random survey, so some vendors have probably been inadvertently missed.
Both Vitamin Cottage and Stems, a flower shop, carry a variety of bars that are Fair Trade-certified, including the Chocolove line out of Boulder.
I talked with Mike Conner of Mountain Man. The Parker-based company has initiatives in place that are moving toward more responsible sourcing with some Fair Trade beans already in use. The company has a store in downtown Evergreen, and Krissa Sherman (303-931-9228) sells Mountain Man business-to-business from Indian Hills to Grant. Java Groove is aware of the issue and uses Fair Trade cocoa in its chocolate coconut almond cookies.
Micky of The Green Merchant carries Divine Chocolates, which come from the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana and are certified by the Fair Trade Federation. She also sells “The Better World Shopping Guide” for those who wish to learn more about how to shop responsibly. Think about source when buying bananas, honey, coffee, oranges, cotton and many other agricultural commodities.
Look for a “fair trade mark” on your Valentine’s Day purchases, and you’ll know your gift doesn’t come at a heavy price. After 30 years, Donn knows how to shop for me, and I always appreciate his politically correct gift. I love you, honey.

Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.