Issue

Trade

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurants and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China, and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities, and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Trade is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Trade

If This Hair Could Talk

Women in some of the most impoverished areas of Cambodia sell their hair as a means of survival. But are they being exploited for vanity an unregulated hair industry?

Dairyland in Distress

Dairy farms—Wisconsin's economic engines—have been decimated in recent years due to decreased demand, lack of workers, and slumping milk prices.

Burning Forest for the Trees

In the name of renewable energy, the British government is subsidizing the clear-cutting of the American Southeast.

China's Footprint in Pakistan

Will China's investment in Pakistan deliver the broad-based growth, prosperity, and jobs it promises? How will it reshape local politics, infrastructure, and the environment?

Meet the Journalist: Sim Chi Yin

Photographer Sim Chi Yin speaks on the thinking and impulse behind making the latest chapter of her ongoing project "Shifting Sands," a visual investigation of the global depletion of construction sand.

Meet the Journalist: Melissa McCart

Restaurateur Mike Chen legally hired expert noodle-pullers from Taiwan to create an authentic noodle house in Pittsburgh, until the Trump administration’s immigration policy changes put an end to it.

Meet the Journalist: Lizzie Wade

Lizzie Wade traveled to Colombia to document how the country’s peace deal with FARC, a guerrilla group at war with the Colombia state from 1964 to 2016, is opening up new opportunities for field work.