Deliciously Good: The first Fairtrade Chocolate Chip Cookie by Grace Farms

Are you surprised that there has never been a Fairtrade certified chocolate chip cookie in the U.S.?

If your answer is yes, then you are in good company, because that's how we felt about six months ago when we learned that, too.

However, we are excited to share that as part of October's Fair Trade month 2021, Grace Farms Foods launched the first and only Fairtrade certified chocolate chip cookie in the U.S.  We partnered with chef Silvia Baldini to not only source ingredients that were of the highest quality, but also ethically and sustainably sourced so you can feel great about enjoying a great tasting cookie.

You might be asking, 'what makes a Fairtrade cookie so special'?

To start, Fairtrade is an ethical certification system that promotes equality and sustainability on farms and in supply chains. Fairtrade stands for changing the way that trade works. It is an alternative approach to trade based on partnership instead of exploitation. Through Fairtrade, consumers can support farming communities and push for fairer trading conditions. 

Fairtrade is considered the gold standard of fair trade certifications. Fairtrade means farmers were fairly compensated for their goods and produced them in compliance with Fairtrade’s rigorous social, economic and environmental standards.  

Well, there are six primary ingredients in most chocolate chip cookies:

  • chocolate chips
  • sugar
  • flour
  • eggs
  • salt
  • and vanilla

As it turns out, America's favorite dessert has three ingredients that are considered 'highly at-risk' of forced or child labor within their supply chain: chocolate, sugar, and vanilla.

Let's dig into each ingredient a little more...

Chocolate, is a product of cocoa from processed cacao fruit. 80% of the world's supply of cocoa comes from two small western Africa countries: Sierra Leon and Ivory Coast. Both countries have wide spread reports of both forced and child labor working in chocolate plantations. Cocoa is then exported and refined in other countries around the world making it very difficult to track where the cocoa's origin was.

Cacao pod

Vanilla, is a small bean that grows on a vine in warm climates.  The finest vanilla is sourced from the island of Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa.  According to the ILO, vanilla farming also has significant reports of forced and child labor.

Vanilla farmer in Madagascar

Lastly, sugar is such a large commodity and used so widely, yet controlled by only a few major international companies that forced labor and child labor has been reported in multiple countries it is sourced from. Like cocoa, sugar is mass refined and then sold in large quantities.

Sugar cane

Our goal at Grace Farms Foods is to demonstrate that ethical and sustainable supply chains are possible, and the Fairtrade certification and Fair Labor Organization's (FLO-CERT) audit system is the best way for us to ensure the quantity of 'at-risk ingredients' we purchase protect both workers' rights and our planet.

We source our vanilla from Nielsen-Massey, a family owned vanilla importer and manufacturer.  We purchase their organic and Fairtrade certified bourbon vanilla extract because of its superior quality and Fairtrade certification.

Due to the complex and large scale refinement of chocolate and sugar, we purchase both Fairtrade chocolate and sugar which use a process called 'mass balance' to account for its certification. Similar to net metering of solar power, the actual chocolate and sugar in our cookies is not directly sourced from Fairtrade certified small holder farms, but the exact quantity that we use is sourced from certified farms.  A somewhat complicated and confusing accounting system, all fair trade certifications adopt this process for these two commodities.

By now you have probably eaten six cookies...

Let's finish with a sweet thought!  Every Fairtrade cookie you enjoy proves that any company, big or small can create a supply chain that protects workers and the environment.  We couldn't be more excited to help show the way, and with your help share with friends and family. So, share on!


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