Fair Trade: What it is and How it Works

You may have heard of coffee, tea, jewelry, and chocolate being “fair-trade” recently, but haven’t bothered to really learn what it means.Coffee-Plantation.jpg jungle image by jamesway19

The coffee we normally buy and brew for morning coffee doesn’t come from the U.S., it comes mainly from Africa and South and Central America. The growers in these countries make a living growing coffee, a commodity that’s price fluctuates with market demand. When demand is low, the farmers make much less money per bushel or pound of coffee that they sell, and have less money to buy food for their family and put their children through school.

fair_trade.gif fair trade image by greggo2

In the same way, people work in mines, on cacao plantations, and in sweatshops, for next to nothing, to produce other goods that we buy regularly. The growers, laborers, artisans, and seamstresses work hard for very little pay. Our buying habits, which are constantly seeking the cheaper price, keep many people throughout the world bound to a life of poverty.

Fairly traded goods present a simple solution to such a large problem. Fair-trade coffee companies make sure the growers receive a fair and livable wage for their  coffee beans. Fair-trade jewelry comes directly from artisans who work in small shops and community centers to produce beautiful high-quality jewelry. Rather than peddling their goods on the street or in the market, they are sold to businesses, such as 10,000 villages, for sale in the U.S. The process also eliminates middle men, so the growers and artisans sell their goods directly to the company that sells it in the U.S.

Fair trade offers fair pay for the goods that people produce in other countries where they would otherwise be living in deep poverty. In addition, fair trade means that profits from the products bought will be put back into the community where the product came from, in the form of building a school, a community center, and other projects that benefit the whole community.
Fair trade also guarantees that the products were produced ethically, without child labor and sweatshops. Fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and other consumable goods are often also organic. Fair trade means that those people working on the land are using sustainable environmental practices.

Just as more and more people have realized that buying organically grown foods is better for the entire world; people are beginning to realize that their buying habits affect many other people in other countries. With this knowledge, the better buying option is to buy things that are fair trade goods.

Coffee black

So the next time you go to buy your cup o’ joe, ask for fair trade coffee.  The more we demand fair trade, the more positive impact we make on our environment!

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One Response

  1. Please post a listing of restaurants and cafes that support and serve the fair trade coffee.

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