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Sugar Ain’t Sweet for Everybody!

By Eddie Long

We Americans LOVE sugar. In fact, we are the largest consumer of sugar in the world. From sweet coffee drinks to sodas, baked goods, chocolate bars, pop tarts, cereal…shoot we even put it in our green beans! The average American consumes a whopping 17 to 20 tablespoons of sugar per DAY! As we kick off the new year, I wanted to look at where our sugar comes from.

Around 80% of the world’s sugar comes from sugarcane, which can be grown in the United States, but the majority of products we consume don’t source their sugar domestically. Instead, most sugar comes from Brazil, India, China, and Thailand. These are countries without many labor laws and with lots of poverty, which is a perfect set up for a big corporation to take advantage by sourcing from shady places to get the cheapest prices so that their profits soar. Sugar plantations in these countries have been widely known to have slave labor and child labor with children as young as five being forced into labor in not so sweet working conditions. Conventional farming has volatile prices, depletes water supplies, and is harvested by hand, using machetes.

Fair Trade has been instrumental in solving some of these problems by requiring safe working conditions and prohibiting child labor. Farmers get higher prices for their crops as well as a Fair Trade premium that supports community development projects. There are also environmental standards that are required and taught to small scale farmers. Unfortunately, most products that we get from stores don’t source using Fair Trade. But we the consumers have the power to change that. All it takes is committing to a simple New Year’s resolution.

RESOLVE to look for the Fair Trade Certified label on the products you buy, especially when they contain sugar. Sometimes the logo can look different or sometimes you can look on the ingredients to see if the sugar used is Fair Trade. Or you may have to search on their website or even contact them by email to ask. If they don’t source Fair Trade, then let them know that you will no longer be buying their product, but instead you will find an alternative that sources fairly! There are lots of alternatives to mainstream products that use Fair Trade ingredients, it just takes a little work on the consumers’ end. If you have a hard time finding Fair Trade alternatives to your favorite products, send us an email at We’d love to help!


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