Why Fair Trade Is Important


"I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process." -Benjamin Harrison

Have you ever stopped to buy lemonade from a kid selling it on the corner?  They might have been asking a quarter for the cup of lemonade and if you didn't have change you might have given them the dollar because they were a cute kid?    But you would never consider bargaining down and only paying them a penny!  That is what typically happens in third world countries when foreign companies come in and buy their goods or services. 

Today is International Fair Trade Day.  What does fair trade mean? It means just what it sounds like.  A person producing a good or service should be paid a fair price for doing so.  Anything less is extortion.

So many things that we buy at the store, are shockingly cheap.  Like a bar of chocolate that came all the way from Africa and only cost a dollar. Acccording to TreeHugger.com:

"The truth behind chocolate is not-so-sweet. The Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer, providing 43% of the world's cocoa. And yet, in 2001 the U.S. State Department reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture about cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations since they don't own them."

Lotions are another product to buy fair trade.  I wrote last month about shea butter in lotions.  Most of the shea butter on the market in the United States and Europe is not fairly traded.  The women who gather the nuts and hand craft this remarkable oil receive only a tiny fraction of the final price.  This happens with the raw ingredients of so many products that we use on a daily basis.

This Mother's Day weekend, make a pledge to help women and children everywhere by buying products that are fairly traded without child labor and adverse work conditions. Product that are made by workers who receive a fair wage.   Just for starters look for fair trade, tea, coffee, chocolate (try Cocoa Zen), sugar, rice, lotion (try Alaffia), spices, cotton and jewelry (Real-jewels).  Here is a link to a fairtrade online store that is a good place to start, but check out labels on products and look for the fair trade seal! 

Here is a useful list from TransFair USA.org:

Fair Trade Certified products are served at many national cafes and restaurants:

Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops - Ask for Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream.
Bruegger's - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.
Caribou Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.
Dunkin' Donuts - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.
Einstein Bagels - Ask for their Global Village Fair Trade Blend.
Indigo Coffee - Ask for their Global Village Fair Trade Blend.
Noah's Bagels - Ask for their daily Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee.
Peet's Coffee and Tea - Ask for the Fair Trade Blend.
Seattle's Best Coffee - Ask for the Fair Trade Certified Organic French Roast.
Starbucks Coffee - Ask for Cafe Estima.
Tully's Coffee - Order any hot or iced espresso drink.

Fair Trade Certified products are available at manyretailers:

Costco - Look for Kirkland Signature FTC Coffee
Fred Meyer - Look for FTC coffee, chocolate, tea
Giant - Look for FTC flowers, coffee, tea, chocolate
Kroger - Look for FTC coffee, chocolate, tea
Organic Bouquet - Look for FTC flowers
Safeway - Look for FTC coffee, tea, sugar
Sam's Club - Look for Member's Mark® coffee, Neu Direction FTC wine, Peterson Farms FTC Sweetened Dried Triple Cherry & Cherry Berry Blend, FTC bananas, & online FTC flowers 
Target - Look for Wandering Grape FTC wines, Archer Farms FTC coffee
Trader Joe's - Look for FTC coffee
Wal-Mart - Look for Sam's Choice FTC coffee, Peterson Farms FTC Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries
Wegman's - Look for FTC coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar
Whole Foods Market - Look for FTC coffee, tea, chocolate, wine, sugar, energy bars, body care products, flowers, rice

transfair-label.jpgLook for the label!

In the US, Fair Trade Certified™ food products carry the label of the US Fair Trade certifying body, TransFair USA. This label certifies that the farmer has received a fair price for the commodity.

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