The true cost of food is generally hidden from the consumer in the exploitation of farm workers and small-plot growers. These are the people striving to make a life through the hard work of growing our food. Rarely do we see them or hear of their circumstances.
The farmers of cocoa and coffee typically own < 5 acres of land and have little negotiating leverage in a global market. Without a collective voice, the farmers and their families may be impoverished for generations. The fair trade movement set out to empower producers at the local level by paying them fair wages for their labor, improving their local living conditions, and giving them a stronger voice in the market. One of the ways this is accomplished is through producer cooperatives who receive training so they are able to deal directly with market buyers and demand a living wage. To certify as a fair trade cooperative, portions of the farmers’ revenue must be reinvested into the community. The cooperative directs these investment funds to more training, purchasing equipment, building schools, and healthcare programs.