Hey friends! Welcome to the weekend!
In my last post, I wrote about why I’m trying to be a more conscious consumer, whether that’s what I eat, drink, or wear. I imagine it’s a topic I’ll return to often.
It just so happens that today is World Fair Trade Day, so I wanted to take a minute to explain a bit about what Fair Trade is, why I support it, and some of my recent favorite products or companies. I’m going to keep it brief, because it’s Saturday and I have brownies to make.
What is Fair Trade?
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.” –Fair Trade Federation
The Fair Trade movement got its start after WWII as churches and non-profits helped those displaced during the war, and later expanded to help small coffee farmers receive fair prices for their product in the global market.* Today, fair trade principles such as long-term relationships with producers, fair prices that cover actual production expenses, sustainable practices, and no forced or child labor have been applied to many different products. You’ll still see it primarily used in the context of crops such as coffee, tea, grains, sugar, and chocolate, and artisan products such as jewelry, clothing, and pottery. For further information about fair trade principles, check out this information from the Fair Trade Federation.
Fair trade isn’t the ultimate, final solution, but it is a very big step in the right direction. I make an effort to purchase fair trade products whenever possible, particularly in the context of foods I buy and eat often. So you might be wondering –
What are some of my favorite fair trade products and companies?
Equal Exchange has a long history in the fair trade market, so they’re widely trusted, and their products are good. They primarily sell coffee, tea, and chocolate, but they’re also getting into the business of fair trade fruits, including bananas and avocados. We ordered coffee and tea from them for our brunch wedding reception, and had a great experience with both. Their coffee is available in all different forms, including K-cups, and they carry fair trade sugar packets in case you’re looking to set up a one-stop socially conscious coffee bar at home, at the office, or at your church. I also love their cocoa powder and chocolate chips for baking (both their semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips are vegan!). I’ve been able to find their tea and chocolate at my local Whole Foods, or you can order online.
Currently, Alter Eco focuses primarily on chocolate and grains (quinoa and rice). I’m a big fan of their jasmine rice (really the best all-purpose rice), and their purple sticky rice (purple or black rice contains high levels of anthocyanins – the antioxidants that give blue or purple fruits and veggies their color, and it’s a nice way to shake up your rice game). I also enjoy their fair trade cane sugar.
Frontier Co-op sources a wide variety of food products; I’m most familiar with their herbs, spices, and baking extracts, which are all important for someone who loves to cook and bake. Their vanilla extract is a kitchen staple for me.
Pact is a company that makes simple, comfortable clothing with zero sweatshops, and no child labor. Many of their products are made with fair trade certified cotton, and it is oh so soft. If you’ll let me talk about underwear really quick, theirs are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. I’m also already eyeing some of their colorful patterned leggings for my wardrobe next fall.
So, those are a few of the companies I’ve been loving lately. I hope you’ll join me in supporting businesses with fair trade principles today and throughout the year.
Enjoy your Saturday!
*Equal Exchange produced a comic book The History of Authentic Fair Trade which is worth a read if you want more info about fair trade in general and their company in particular.