Imagine that you’re a coffee farmer in Guatemala. Your crop is your entire livelihood. The crop is exported to America and is sold at a fraction of what it’s worth. It’s an injustice like this that was the jumping off point for the idea of Fair Trade. Fairtradeusa.org defines Fair Trade as: a global trade model and certification allows shoppers to quickly identify products that were produced in an ethical manner. Simply paying farmers and workers in developing countries or poverty stricken areas, what their products are worth. The philosophy of Fair Trade operates around six basic principles:
-Fair prices and credit: Democratically organized farming groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price (or the market price if it’s higher) and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farming organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
-Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions and sustainable wages. Forced child and slave labor are strictly prohibited.
-Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible to eliminate unnecessary middlemen and empower farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
-Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade premiums, which are funds for community development.
-Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarships, schools, quality improvement and leadership training, and organic certification.
-Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations (fairtradeusa.org).
With products available for purchase on the internet, it’s become even easier to join the Fair Trade movement. With the surplus available online through sites like serrv.org and tenthousandvillages.com/fair-trade, the sheer variety of products available is astounding. Coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa, fresh fruit and vegetables, sugar, beans and grains, flowers, nuts, oils ,butters, honey, spices, wine, clothing, body care products and spirits are just some of the products that can be purchased “Fair Trade certified”. The internet shopping arena along with the more than 50,000 retail locations across the United States have created a world of opportunities for the farmers and workers who produce these goods to earn an appropriate wage for their labor.
The most impactful reason to buy Fair Trade products is because not only do the individuals earn the money they deserve for their work but so they can go out and stimulate their country’s own economy which in turn stimulates economies all over the world. So in reality, when you buy a Fair Trade product, you’re really helping your country and yourself. Fair Trade is not a program designed to help a few hundred farmers in a developing country halfway around the world. It actually benefits more than 1.2 million farming families in countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America (fairtradeusa.org). What started out as an organization to help farmers earn a proper wage for their crops has expanded to include certain types of craftsmen as well, like those who hand-sew sports balls and those who work in factories sewing apparel (fairtradeusa.org). With over 350 Fair Trade organizations in over 70 countries, it’s clear that this concept has taken off in a big way.
If you would like to purchase Fair Trade products you can find them on
and many more!