By Delia Daly, Volunteer Chicago Oxfam Action Corps
Daley Plaza was filled with fair trade vendors and curious customers May 7th and 8th. Beautiful weather made it possible for Oxfam Action Corps Chicago and 20 fair trade groups to share their stories and products with Chicagoans. It was great to see people who were both familiar with Chicago Fair Trade's message, and those just passing through on their way to and from work. The market's purpose was to recognize the movement for ethical consumption in American cities. As consumers, each purchase counts. The message being shared was that supporting products that protect the environment and the people working to produce them is possible in Chicago. Our neighboring booths were The Dill Pickle - a food co-op located in the Logan Square Neighborhood, and Mata Traders - Fair Trade fashion (clothing and jewelry) supporting producers in India.
The Oxfam team was promoting the recent "Behind The Brands" campaign. Visitors to our booth were encouraged to play a game - matching the top 10 American Brands with their "Behind the Brands" scores. Some used strategy, others just guessed, but all were shocked at how low every brand scored in the areas assessed by Oxfam researchers. (land, women, farmers, workers, climate, transparency, and water). Over a hundred of the visitors showed their support by signing our petition urging these companies to re-evaluate the impact their business practices have. It was encouraging to share the progress that Nestle and Mondelez have made. They agreed within two months of the campaign coming out to make changes in how they treat their women cocoa farmers. Divine Chocolate and their visiting Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers from Ghana demonstrated the success that Fair Trade practices have. Not only does Divine Chocolate provide a delicious product, but supports and respects the cocoa farmers that are in charge of production. The lives of the farmers have truly been enriched by the independence and responsibility Fair Trade practices give them.