It's Valentines Day again, and love is in the air. But it's not in the flowers and chocolate that you'll give to, or get from, your sweetie. Not unless it's Fair Trade.

Allow us to explain:

Say your honey's got a sweet tooth. Then chocolate is the old stand-by. But be careful which brands you choose, because there's no bigger turn-off than demonstrating your support for child slavery. The sad truth is that's exactly from where some of today's leading producers get their chocolate.

The entire international community and even the major chocolatiers accept that forced child labor is common in West African cocoa cultivation (from which comes a vast majority of the global supply). Despite pledges to purge their supply chain of this abominable practice, the chocolate makers have failed to take any decisive action. If you support this cruelty, your honey's sweet tooth might turn sour.

So you might think flowers instead. But imagine you're a flower worker in Columbia or Ecuador. Life on the other side of Feb. 14 is no fragrant bouquet. But it does stink. Having been subjected to DDT and other banned chemicals, their gift is respiratory or skin disease, blurred vision or even miscarriage and birth defects.

It's a heartbreaking situation. Buying flowers as a token of affection might rob a worker of their dream of a healthy child, what we might for ourselves (someday!) see as the ultimate manifestation of a healthy relationship.

The sad truth is that by celebrating healthy romantic relationships, we often inadvertently reinforce abusive commercial relationships.

But before you cancel your dinner plans, you should know there's a better way: Fair Trade, that comes from ethical production settings. What could be more loving than that?

Not convinced? The Madison Fair Trade Action Alliance (MadFTAA) will be on Library Mall with Free Samples of Fair Trade chocolate, talking Fair Trade coffee and chocolate. And, we can show you where to find the good stuff. After all, pesticides and slavery are the last thing you want on your date's your mind when you go to make your move at the end of the night.

Andy Krieger and James Ploeser

Madison Fair Trade Action Alliance