Fair Trade is a non-profit organization that represents a brand of products being grown and produced on farms where farmers and workers get paid a fair wage for their labor.
Along with fair wage and no child labor, Fair trade promotes sustainable farming in disadvantaged communities by educating producers to improve community development, and producing products that are good for consumers as well as the earth.
When Fair Trade USA helps farmers improve their work, they follow the simple philosophy, “Teach us how to fish — do not just give us the fish,” as quoted by a tea producer from Kenya named Julius Ntogaiti Ethang’atha as he shares his experience with working with Fair Trade USA and how his work helped his community.
“There was a huge impact on the first communities to work with Fair Trade. The money they got from tea was used for food and clothes,” Ethang’atha said. In these communities, schools and daycare centers, dispensaries, maternity units, water systems, bridges and roads have been built, all because a portion of the funds went to the development of the community.
Producers can choose to use a portion of their profit to become organic certified, and nearly half of all Fair Trade products are. You can now find Ethang’atha on the professional social network, Linked in, listed as an independent farming professional in Kenya.
There are many benefits consumers enjoy by purchasing Fair Trade.
Every product that is Fair Trade certified is easily recognizable by the Fair Trade USA logo that can be found on the product packaging. This label represents a promise that the product is made with no GMOs and no hazardous chemicals.
According to Ramesh V. Bhat, Ph.D., “Risk to human health from Genetically Modified foods is mainly related to toxicity, allergenicity and antibiotic resistance.” GM foods are injected with chemicals to make them grow faster and larger which creates health risks for consumers, especially those with a nut allergy. The GM potion includes Brazilian nut protein to improve the nutritional quality of GM foods, causing an allergic reaction among people with a nut allergy, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Fair Trade products are not just limited to food. As listed on the official Fair Trade USA website, products include spices, oil, wine, tea, honey, body care, linens and flowers.
According to CQ Press, the number of products sold with fair trade labels is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States. “Big chains like Wal-Mart, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and McDonald’s have begun offering coffee and other items,” CQ Press said. With large corporations supporting the Fair Trade movement, it is more easily accessible to a wide array of consumers who want to see farmers and producers getting their fair share.
Another large company devoted to making a difference with Fair Trade is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. I work at a local Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop and there are many flavors on the menu which are made with Fair Trade coffee beans and chocolate. The company is devoted to the movement by promising customers that by the end of 2013, all Ben & Jerry’s flavors will be Fair Trade certified, meaning all ingredients, including cocoa, vanilla, sugar, bananas, and coffee, will come from Fair Trade farms. This is significant because it shows consumers which businesses place value in spending a little more money on products that are the best that come from the best by supporting the global economy.
Fair Trade is a foundation that hasn’t solved the entire world’s unequal wage war but has definitely contributed to the increase of equal pay workers. These workers are now able to support their families as well as their communities.
Consumers of Fair Trade products are given a healthier alternative for food and just an overall quality of product. People of all different classes can get involved with supporting Fair Trade. Consumers can help themselves and their body, help developing countries grow and prosper, while also supporting small farmers in countries around the world like the tea farmer, Julius. Since the label is so easy to identify, consumers can support the movement just by purchasing Fair Trade products.
It’s that easy.
Sarah McIlwaine is a junior communications major.