What is Fair Trade Certified?
Just the other day I was in my local organic grocery store, taking up space in the coffee/tea aisle, trying to figure out which coffee I was going to purchase. I had read October was Fair Trade Month, so instead of grabbing my usual ground, I decided to read some labels. I saw the Fair Trade USA label several times.
First of all, an entire section of tea was distracting me. Pumpkin Spice tea? Apple Cider tea? No, coffee. I needed to focus on the coffee. There was not as much coffee as there was tea, but the tea section was definitely more shiny and sparkly. All those boxes and canisters with pretty pictures of flowers and herbs with stunning colors…the bags of coffee weren’t as lavishly decorated, but many of the brands I was staring at had Fair Trade labels on them. Initially I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention, I am more than aware of green-washing and to be honest, third-party certification doesn’t sell me, any more than products calling themselves “natural” when a quick glance at the ingredient list says otherwise. Or using that pretty, soft sage-green color to lead us to believe that product is natural and healthy.
What Is Fair Trade Certified
“The Fair Trade Certified label helps you make choices, with the confidence that your product is socially and environmentally sustainable. While best known for coffee, Fair Trade Certified has grown to encompass many products, from tea to chocolate to body care to wine. Choose Fair Trade products to vote with your dollars and make Every Purchase Matter.”
I digress. This isn’t about design, this is about the choice I was about to make regarding my coffee: did I want to take home a pound of coffee that was tended to and harvested by workers who were no better than slaves, who worked insane hours for little money in return, who didn’t have the resources for medical care and education, on a land that was heavily fertilized by toxins and clear cut of trees to make room for some coffee plants? Who suffered day in and day out so I could have a cup of coffee?
See, these things matter to me. I don’t want the pleasure I get from a delicious cup of coffee hampered by the fact the bean came from a farm which took the place of a forest. The thought of someone suffering hardships so I can have a cup of coffee doesn’t sit well. It is not an idea that is difficult to imagine, one only has to look at our own history before the Civil War to realize what the fair trade marketing concept is trying to accomplish. In the USA, slavery was made illegal with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment. Other countries are not so lucky, there are still workers out there, harvesting ingredients for items we use every day and not getting paid for their work, they live in horrible conditions, they are exposed to toxins and pesticides, the list goes on. We cannot lose our humanity in the food we consume.
Visit Fair Trade USA for updates and events, as well as their list of Fair Trade Licensed Partners and check out and share this video that does a nice job of explaining the benefits of Fair Trade Certified products.
The Fair Trade Coffee I found? Caffe Umbria’s Terra Sana Blend.