The Who is as Important as the Where

A large majority of people within the United States are capable of walking into a grocery store, grabbing what is needed for their dinner that evening, and leaving without consciously considering the impact that food product had on another person’s life. Thinking contemplatively about where our food comes from isn’t a common practice, and if we rarely consider where our food comes from than I am also willing to bet that we don’t at all reflect on who produced that food.

Let’s take a moment to consider the growing, harvesting, and selling of one of the world’s most precious bean: the cocoa bean.

When we think of cocoa, we often picture its end product; a sweet, rectangular shaped treat that makes a person’s taste buds perform a joyous dance of satisfaction. However, this end product has been heavily processed and loaded with sugar to mask the beans natural earthy and bitter taste. In fact, if you were to present a piece of chocolate to a cocoa farmer he would be in disbelief at its flavor; our class observed this in a short video clip featuring interviews with cocoa farmers in Africa whose faces filled with delight at tasting the “treat that white people love”.

It was bewildering to learn that many cocoa farmers had never experienced the end product of the food that they labored so hard for. Why is it that the laborers of the food we eat be denied the ability to savor their harvest the way that we do? Simply answered, it is because of the inequalities that persist in the world food system, and the exploitation of regions with pristine growing conditions for highly sought after ingredients (such as the cocoa bean on the Ivory Coast of Africa).

The next time that you are wandering the aisles of the grocery store, and find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar, take a moment to consider buying a bar whose ingredients aren’t sourced from exploited farms but rather farmers whose livelihoods are factored in to the products creation.

3 thoughts on “The Who is as Important as the Where

  1. Jordan Jamal Lucas

    Hi Carly,

    I totally agree with your blog post and I think it is important for people to not only be more conscious of what goods they are purchasing but where the actual ingredients come from. I think if enough people take action by purchasing goods that are produced in a morally ethical way then it could impact these big corporations and force them to stop. It may not be an easy thing to do but it is better than not doing anything at all!

  2. Emily Halvorson

    I really appreciate your take on taking our contemplative practices and applying them in our every day lives and purchases. This is a big idea and can be applied way beyond just our grocery stores! There’s a service called Imperfect Produce where you can get farm fresh produce from across the Pacific Northwest and parts of California that saves water, energy, and food from going to waste. You’re effectively purchasing the produce that the grocery store you were contemplating at before had turned away! Your argument goes along with Michael Pollan’s argument about individual action. And I agree with your criticism of it – it’s going to take a lot more than just individual action. Individual action on a large scale is what is needed to create a widespread use of contemplative practices in terms of purchasing food. The question is how do we make these contemplative practices a widespread way of thinking?

  3. Felix Benedict Reinhold

    Carly, great post, I enjoyed that you included a link to the video, giving some context about what you are addressing. A major part of food inequality is how people are exploited in less wealthy countries and most of the food is own by a small wealthy few. being aware of where the food comes from as well as how the food was grown and processed is extremely important to insure there is fair-trade. I do agree how the contemplative practice makes you think just that little bit more about the food on the shelf and helps us to question the system of food.


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