Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fair Trade

Help the environment and the people who live in it.

by Jeana Malcolm
Fair Trade is a trade system in which products (typically grown/produced in the developing world) are certified to have met certain ethical and environmental standards.  Fair Trade aims to reduce poverty by helping farmers and other workers to grow and make high quality, sustainably made products, and in turn offers a high price to those producers for their goods.  Consumers sometimes pay a slightly higher price than they would for goods from larger producers, but get a high quality product that they can be assured was produced ethically and sustainably. 

You can currently find the Fair Trade label on several different products, most prominently coffee, tea and chocolate, but also bananas, beans and grains, cooking oils, sugar, honey, herbs and spices, wine, flowers and even clothing.

How does Fair Trade help farmers and other producers?

The impact that Fair Trade has on the lives of producers is great and consists of several different aspects.  Fair trade farmers form cooperatives to help them get the best prices for their goods and cushion against unforeseen economic disruption.  They are given access to healthcare and education that they may otherwise have never received.  Women are guaranteed many rights, including freedom from harrassment and discrimination.  All workers are empowered to fight for fair wages and fair treatment, and work under safe conditions.  

How does Fair Trade help the environment?

Fair Trade promotes organic agriculture, and nearly half of all Fair Trade products that are currently being produced are also organic.  Use of pesiticides is quite limited in even their non-organic products, however, and use of genetically modified crops is strictly prohibited.  They also promote water and ecosystem conservation and agricultural diversity, as well as some more specific farming methods such as shade-grown coffee (which promotes ecosystem diversity).

Where can I purchase Fair Trade products?

Your local health food store likely carries plenty of Fair Trade products.  Coffee, tea and chocolate are the most commonly found, so much so that they can sometimes even be found now in conventional grocery stores.  If you cannot find a local source, Visit this link for a long list of online sources for all kinds of different fair trade products.  

For more information about Fair Trade or to make a donation, please visit

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