No Canadian wants their food to be connected to child labour.
But we have a problem – Canada currently imports over $3 Billion in grocery items that are at high risk of being connected to child labour and forced labour. Addressing child labour isn’t simple or linear, it involves farmers, workers, businesses, governments and NGOs working together to ensure children are free from dangerous conditions. But it can begin with the decisions you make for your grocery list.
Part of building an effective system that roots out child labour, involves companies participating in ethical certification systems like Fairtrade. While these systems cannot guarantee our food is free of child labour, they can identify problems and solutions, and significantly reduce the likelihood of exploitation.
As you take what you learn and add ethically made goods to your grocery list, you’re contributing to better trading conditions, helping secure the rights of marginalized producers, and helping steward our environment. Here are the labels we recommend looking for:
- What ethical foods can I buy in Canada?
- What is Fairtrade Canada certified? (and where can I buy Fairtrade groceries?)
- What is Fair For Life? (and where can I buy Fair For Life Certified foods?)
- What is Rainforest Alliance and UTZ? (and where can I buy Rainforest Alliance food in Canada?)
- What else can I look out for?
What ethical foods can I buy in Canada? (Fairtrade Certified, Fair For Life Certified, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified)
- Dried Fruits
- Coconut Milk
- Garam Masala
- Coconut Sugar
- Soya Sauce
- Olive Oil
- Maple syrup
- Ice cream
- Sweet potato flour
What is Fairtrade Canada Certified? (and where can I buy Fairtrade groceries?)
When you buy products with the “FAIRTRADE” mark, you support farmers and workers as they work to improve their lives and their communities. Fairtrade ingredients are produced by small-scale farmer organizations or plantations that meet social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest. Learn more about the fair trade movement and the Fairtrade Certification.
Products found in Canada
- Retail sales of Fairtrade products in Canada grew by 21% in 2019
- Canadian sales generated 6.8M USD of Fairtrade Premium in 2019, representing a 13% increase on 2018
- Fairtrade certified banana volumes grew 13% in 2019
- Dried Fruits
- Garam masala
- Curry powder
- Lemon Grass
- Prana Organic
Fair for Life focuses on:
- Respect of human rights and fair working conditions
- Respect of the ecosystem and promotion of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture practices
- Respect and betterment of local impact
Fair for Life Certification assures that human rights are safeguarded at any stage of production, workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and smallholder farmers receive a fair share. Fair trade improves the livelihood of thousands of smallholder farmers and workers by providing the means for social community projects and the empowerment of people.
Products found in Canada
What is Rainforest Alliance and UTZ? (and where can I buy Rainforest Alliance food in Canada?)
The Rainforest Alliance has built a global partnership of people strengthening forests and helping communities thrive. Rainforest Alliance supports sustainable livelihoods. Members include farmers, businesses, and consumers who all share a desire to restore balance to vulnerable landscapes around the world and to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. They have a zero tolerance for forced and child labour.
In 2018, UTZ merged with The Rainforest Alliance to target critical global challenges such as deforestation, climate change, systemic poverty, and social inequality. With the goal of protecting nature and ensuring the preservation of biodiversity, UTZ and The Rainforest Alliance collectively work to build a future where land and the people who live and work on the land are protected from environmental and social violations, with their livelihoods respected. As an international non-profit organization working with aspects of business, agriculture and forest, The Rainforest Alliance aims to normalize acts of environmental responsibility. This collective works to ensure that sustainable land use and responsible business practices are normalized so everyone can prosper, both now and in the future.
- In 2017, enough UTZ certified cocoa was sold to make 29 billion milk chocolate bars.
Rainforest Alliance Products
Other certifications to watch out for
As part of the ethical consumer movement here are some other certifications to be aware of.
Established in response to the global issue of overfishing, Ocean Wise aims to create a conservation program built on a desire to make sustainable seafood choices easy for consumers, to preserve the long-term health of our oceans. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is an assurance of the product’s dedication to being an ocean-friendly choice.
The vision of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is to preserve the life and seafood supplies in the world’s oceans. Conservation of oceans is vital to preserving essential resources, since oceans cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface, regulate the climate and supply oxygen into the atmosphere. By using certification programs and individual labelling, MSC seeks to reform the seafood market and thereby protect the the health of the world’s oceans. To achieve their goal, they undertake a 6-step process. When a Blue Fish Label product is purchased, a cycle begins to preserve the health, productivity, and functionality of oceans. First, fisheries that satisfy all the requirements of the MSC are independently certified as sustainable. Then, restaurants and retailers can choose MSC sustainable seafood. Next, a traceable supply chain is established, ensuring consumers that only seafood with this particular MSC label is sold by an MSC certified fishery. If resources are preserved in conjunction with ethical production, the usage of natural resources will not outdo the natural production of these resources. As such, harm can be mitigated, with sustainability taking a primary role in food production and consumption.
To receive the designation of Certified Organic, products must meet the Canadian Organic Standards (COS). It can take a minimum of 15 months to achieve certification if producers can prove that no prohibited substances have been used on their property in the last three years. The process of organic certification is built to ensure the integrity of organic products from farm to table, ensuring a minimum benchmark of basic requirements for the organic food production systems.
Equal Exchange was founded to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. With our founding, we joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and non-profits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying our work is the belief that only through organization can small farmers survive and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.
Can’t find an ethical option where you shop?
Many ethical or Fairtrade goods are only found in select grocery stores. If you can't find an ethical option in your grocery story, you can still influence change. Take action online and ask Canada’s three largest grocery chains (Loblaw Companies, Metro Inc., and Sobeys) along with their 47 subsidiaries to provide more ethically certified goods.
1. Use Twitter
to take action
Hi @_______, I recently learned that child labour is most likely increasing within the supply chains of our food because of Covid-19. Please share what you are doing to ensure your groceries are not connected to child labour #NoChildForSale
Examples: @LoblawsON @sobeys @MetrocanadaSCS
2. Send an email to your favourite brand
Dear [company name],
I am a customer of your grocery store(s). Recently, I learned that $3.7 billion in risky food products were imported into Canada in 2019, a 63 per cent increase from 10 years ago. I want to support a grocery company that takes meaningful action against child labour. What are you doing to ensure your products are child labour-free? Specifically, do you:
- Have plans to increase the availability of ethically certified products in your store(s)?
- Publicly report on your actions to identify, prevent and mitigate child labour in your supply chains?
- Publicly support Supply Chain Legislation in Canada to help eliminate our connection to the worst forms of child labour? Similar legislation has been adopted in the UK, France,Australia, and the Netherlands.
Thank you in advance for your reply. To learn more about this issue, you can visit World Vision Canada’s website