What Fair Trade Means and Why You Should Care
Best Part of Waking Up
Every morning, for years, I have enjoyed a cup of coffee. I never spent much time thinking about where the beans came from, nor was I aware of the irresponsible (and often inhumane) practices that have been implemented over the last several decades by coffee growers. I simply enjoyed my coffee… blissful and ignorant.
But like a lot of things in life, once you know, once you have been given additional knowledge, you can’t ignore it. I couldn’t, and I hope to give you enough insight into why spending an extra 5 cents per cup is worth it.
What Exactly is ‘Fair Trade’?
Let’s start with Fair Trade. It’s a simple concept; it’s the practice in which commodities are traded in a way that supports fair business practices and treatment of the local communities producing the commodity. Fair Trade’s positive impact touches the workers, the community and the natural resources themselves.
The harsh reality is that coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world, second only to oil. The vast demand for coffee means ANYTHING and EVERYTHING will be done to keep the cost low and the profits high.
Imagine for just a minute: pesticides, children out harvesting coffee beans instead of attending school, unsafe and unsanitary work conditions. Imagine living near these farms and the large quantities of chemicals running into local waterways that serve as your family’s only source of drinking and household water. How might that impact your and your loved ones’ health (think Flint, MI)?
Fair trade means:
- Fair Price – Fair trade often allows the middleman to be removed from the equation. Cutting out the middleman means the farm receives more for its beans and the buyer gets a better quality bean at a great price!
- Environmental Sustainability – Agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited to ensure long-term sustainability of the farm.
- Fair Labor – Fair trade creates associations and communities where employees are given freedom and empowerment. Schools are funded and forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
- Local Economic Growth – With higher revenues, farms are investing in employees, equipment and upgrades. Local areas benefit from increased consumer purchases. Social development, educational programs and scholarships, and health programs are created.
Communities Over Corporations
Many things have been done throughout the years by reputable companies to support farmers. Buying Fair Trade coffee ensures that you are choosing to support a better, more responsible type of commerce. Smaller farms now have a chance to compete against larger, less ethical farms. Communities win, not corporations focused solely on profit. Fair Trade is slightly more expensive, but knowing I’m part of the solution for just a few pennies makes each cup that much more enjoyable.