October is Fair Trade Month here in the U.S. And, what better time than now to start supporting farmers, workers,and families worldwide, simply by making the effort to purchase fair trade certified.
According to the the Fair Trade Resource Network, the fair trade movement can represent a lot of different concepts. It is “a social justice movement, an alternative business model, a system of global commerce, a tool for international development, a faith-based activity. It means different things to different people. There is no single, regulatory, authoritative body.”
However, it is commonly accepted that fair trade is defined as, “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, disadvantaged producers and workers—especially in the South.”
In the US (and throughout the world), fair trade takes on many forms. Two of the main labels you will see here in the U.S. are the Fairtrade International (Fairtrade America) and Fair Trade USA. Both initiatives follow slightly different standards, but each are dedicated to empowering marginalized peopled and improving the quality of their lives.
Most of the products that are certified are agricultural products which include coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, sugar, and rice. But the fair trade movement goes well beyond agricultural products and includes apparel and linens, flowers and plants, wine, sport balls, tennis shoes and more. For a more extensive list, visit here and here.
How to Get Involved
Still wondeirng what it means to you, and how you can get involved?
One of the best ways to become involved in the movement is to become a more conscious consumer, and become connected with the global fair trade efforts. This means reading up a bit about fair trade, understanding what it stands for, and why purchasing fair trade certified products matters.
1.Swap at least one item in your daily routine for a fair trade item. This could be coffee, bananas – or whatever you feel is appropriate. Then, make a commitment to purchse at least one fair trade product every time you shop. A few product to try might include Alter Eco Mascobado Cane Sugar, one of Lake Champlain Organic Fair Trade Hot Chocolate varieties, Equal Exchange Extra Virgin Olive Oil from small-scale farmers in Palestine, coffee from Green Mountain, Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave, or your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s.
- Look to the label. Look on the packaging for certification labels – this is one of the easiest ways to ensure the products you are purchasing are meeting a certain set of fair trade standard. Two of the main labels you will see here in the U.S. are Fairtrade and Fair Trade USA. To learn more about each, visit the certification websites, or read these brief explanations: Certifications: Fairtrade International and Certifications: Fair Trade USA, both posted originally on Coffee Universe.
Become a Fairtrade Town: For the super motivated consumer, look to the International Fairtrade Town movement. A Fairtrade Town is any community in which people and organizations use their everyday choices to increase sales of Fairtrade products and bring about positive change for farmers and workers in developing countries.
For more information about Fair Trade,
check out some of these interesting links
Findings from the 2013 Fair Trade USA Be Fair Survey
History of Authentic Fair Trade from Equal Exchange
A short informational film from Fair Trade USA: Fair Trade Every Purchase Matters
Listen to Gerardo,a Fairtrade coffee farmer from Costa Rica
Watch After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands is a short film that brings the day-to-day challenges of the thin months to life in the voices of coffee farmers themselves, and shares the successes of creative projects that have been established to eliminate this annual period of food insecurity.
Source: Article originally published on Family Eats