Have you ever wondered where the chocolate in your favorite candy bar comes from？ Chocolate comes from the cacao1 tree， which grows in warm， tropical2 areas of West Africa， Indonesia， Malaysia， Mexico and South America. And who eats the delicious chocolate made from the cacao grown in these places？ The majority of chocolate is consumed3 in Europe and North America. This probably sounds like a familiar story—developing countries produce cheap raw4 materials that are produced and sold as finished goods in developed countries. Generally， that is what happens with chocolate. Large chocolate companies buy cacao beans at a low price and produce cocoa and chocolate products to sell at a high price.
But the familiar story has a new chapter. Beginning in the 1980s， some consumers learned that cacao farmers were living difficult and uncertain lives. The farmers received money for their crops based on world markets， and the market price for cacao was sometimes so low that farmers received less for their crops than the crops had cost to produce. In response， groups of consumers in Europe and the United States developed “fair trade” organizations to make sure that farmers of cacao， as well as coffee and tea， would receive fair and consistent prices for their crops.
Fair trade organizations5 help farmers by buying cacao beans or other products from them directly at higherthanmarket prices without“middle men” such as exporters. Fair trade organizations also encourage farming techniques that are not harmful to the environment or to farm workers， for example， growing cacao without chemical pesticides6 or fertilizers7 in the shade of rain forest trees. One organization， Equal Exchange， helps farmers set up farming cooperatives in which they can share resources and work on projects such as community schools. Another， Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International （FLO）， guarantees that products bearing its label meet standards that improve the lives of growers and producers.
The results of fair trade are a better standard of living for some farmers and nicer chocolate bars made with organically produced cocoa that consumers don’t feel guilty8 about buying. And although fair trade chocolate is somewhat more expensive than other chocolate and now makes up only 1% of chocolate sold， the fair trade idea is spreading quickly. You may soon see fair trade chocolate right next to the more famous bars in your favorite store.