Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fair Trade: Not just coffee

A few weeks ago I was invited to a breakfast hosted by Fair Trade USA to see a presentation by Ashley Koff, an author, registered dietitian and spokesperson for World Fair Trade Day (recognized on May 14 this year.) I have to admit that before meeting Ashley and hearing her speak, I had only associated Fair Trade with the coffee I've seen on the Starbucks order board. Well, that and the heated exchange between my two daughters regarding a clothing swap. Oh wait - they called that UnFair Trade.

In a nutshell, fair trade is a movement that seeks to ensure that farmers and workers in developing countries get a fair price for their product, which would in turn enable those farmers to practice sustainable agriculture. So, by purchasing products that carry the official Fair Trade logo, you're supporting this fair system of trade while at the same time protecting our planet. Sounds like a win-win situation to me, unlike the hoodie-for-five-tank-tops deal my daughters were brokering. 

So what are some of the items that you can buy that are Fair Trade certified? I got a few products to bring home to sample including coffee, olive oil and chocolate (which was awesome, by the way), but you can pretty much find anything you can think of from food items that you use everyday to exotic spices to clothing (Koff was wearing an outfit that day that was Free Trade certified.) There are wines, beauty items and plants and flowers. And for those of you who want to engage in outdoor activities with an entirely clear conscience, there are even soccer balls that carry the Fair Trade logo. Score!

It was eye-opening for me to learn a little bit more about Fair Trade and to see the benefits of advocating the cause. I can't say that I'll be living an entirely Fair Trade existence from now on, but I have been seeking out more products that bear the certified seal, and I especially want my daughters to have a bit more of a conscious approach to their consumerism, whether it be the food they eat or the tank-tops they're buying. And yes I gave them a Fair Trade lecture before I handed over that chocolate bar I brought home.

Like most things that are good and good for you, it may take a little more effort to find Fair Trade products. But I love this idea for starting a Fair Trade commitment - make your daily cup of coffee or tea a Fair Trade certified cup. Of the more than 100 categories of Fair Trade Certified products available in the U.S., coffee and tea are the most common and easiest to find and available in almost every grocery chain, most coffee shops and many restaurants. So have your latte and help the world! And now I'm off to find a Free Trade donut.

Look for products that bear this Fair Trade certified logo. Find out more about Fair Trade here: Fair Trade USA 

Photo: Stock.Xchng
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