The term “fair trade” is becoming increasingly common, so much so that it can vary in meaning depending on with whom you talk. Because of that and a rise in new followers thanks to Reading Eagle’s Community Blog Page, I think it is fitting to review what is meant by “fair trade” when seen here.
Here at The Social Eater, “fair trade” means:
- The producers of said product were compensated fairly for their time, effort, and materials involved.
- No child labor involved.
- No indentured servant labor involved.
- No slave labor of any kind involved
- Workers dealt with as directly as possible, cutting out unnecessary overhead and middlemen.
- Community development required. Producer groups are required to pay premiums that go directly into the community where group members live.
- Producer groups are run democratically, including decisions on how to spend fair trade premiums. (Examples of how premiums might be spent include clean water systems, schools, libraries, organic certification, training, and equipment.)
- Environmental sustainability. Harsh chemicals and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are not allowed in fair trade agriculture.
When I first started buying fair trade products, my choices were all about them. Their stories grabbed me. They were mostly stories about mamas trying to find ways to take care of their babies, who couldn’t before fair trade came along. I wasn’t a mom yet, but I wanted to contribute to what they were doing: making quality products for fair wages so they could provide for their families, so they wouldn’t end up in slavery, so their kids would know their mothers and grow up with plenty of room to know they are loved.
I found out many conventional products are made by slaves, many of them children, and I didn’t want to fund that anymore. Buying fair trade told a much more beautiful story that I wanted to participate in; I wanted it to be part of my story, too.
I wanted to change the world so that everyone who makes clothes and coffee and chocolate could receive fair wages and live out their lives in freedom.
Over time, I realized that I might not change the entire world, but I do get to choose what I buy into, what I support, what efforts I fund. I still get to choose what story I’m going to participate in.
I don’t want to be part of the stories of children working in dangerous conditions so I can buy more for less money.
I do want to be a part of the stories about families being restored, people being treated with dignity, and quality products being made by workers who do their job well and give back to their community.