Shopping Slavery Free

Tuesday August 13th we were privileged to talk to a panel of great people about ways we can fight slavery simply with our buying decisions.

Eli Penberthy is the associate editor of PCC’s Sound Consumer. She was kind enough to bring this panel together and speak to us about PCC markets, a chain who only sells ethically sourced chocolate. If you shop at other grocery locations you can check online or call the manufacturer to see where the cocoa for the chocolate came from. If your cocoa was farmed in west Africa chances are child slaves picked the cocoa you’re enjoying. Looking on the packaging of the bars themselves usually won’t reveal much, which may be another indicator that the chocolate was not ethically sourced.

Next we heard from Lisa Pau of the Mangrove Action Project. She spoke to us about shrimp. Chances are slaves were involved in the capture and shipping of the shrimp being sold in most grocery stores or restaurants. People are routinely kidnapped from their homes or coerced into working on shrimping boats for little or no pay. They are tortured, abused and sometimes even murdered. As a consumer you should ask where your shrimp came from. Ask your waiter before ordering shrimp or ask your fishmonger at the grocery store.

Finally we heard from Michele Besso of the Northwest Justice Project. She spoke to us about the US agricultural laws and how traffickers can exploit those laws to coerce migrant workers into forced labor. The laws that allow migrant workers to come to American to work also state that those immigrants can’t work for a different employer. So if you’re put in a situation where your boss isn’t paying you or forcing you to work for low pay you can’t seek employment elsewhere. To do so would result in deportation for the worker.

The speakers were all knowledgeable and engaging. It’s good ┬áto know that as consumers we can effect change simply by deciding where and how we spend our money.

By Jared Stewart