We pretty much have down where and how to get ethically sourced clothing and lifestyle pieces, however when it comes to food, something we consume every day, buying ethically can be a bit more ambiguous. That's where fair trade comes in. Aside from shopping at local farmer's markets, you can support workers and farmers across the globe by looking for items that are Fair Trade Certified. We did some research on what it means to be Fair Trade Certified, how it helps, and what to buy so that your next meal will benefit more than just your appetite.
What is Fair Trade Food?
The concept of fair trade is essentially products made with respect for the people and environment that it impacts. A variety of third-party non-profit organizations such as Fair Trade USA have devised rigorous standards focused on transparency, fair labor practices, and protective environmental techniques. According to Fair Trade USA, their mission is to "inspire the rise of the Conscious Consumer and eliminate exploitation." A company can apply for fair trade status, and if they meet all of the 300+ standards, they will be granted certification. Today, over 1.2 million farming families in 70 developing nations benefit from fair trade practices.
The good news about fair trade food is that it is becoming more and more common at large retail companies. For instance, fair trade coffee, the original fair trade certified product, is widely available across the US with over 500 different brands available- you can even buy fair trade coffee in K-cups! Additionally, things like specialty chocolate, cane sugar and agave, and other sweeteners are popular fair trade products. Traditionally, sugar cane farmers are among the most exploited in the world because of fluctuating markets and prices, so buying fair trade supports this marginalized demographic.
If coffee and sweeteners aren't your thing, try buying fair trade produce! Bananas are by far the most popular and easy to find in your local grocery store, just look for the Fair Trade Certification sticker. Specialty supermarkets such as Whole Foods also carry numerous rices, grains, wines, teas, herbs, nuts and spices that are Fair Trade Certified. Recently, there has also been a push by the fair trade movement to certify more seafood providers who harvest fish ethically and sustainably.
Why You Should Make the Switch
The corporate agriculture model we currently employ is a system that is unfortunately extremely profit-driven and almost always exploits the worker and surrounding environment in developing nations. By investing in Fair Trade Certified food, not only are you ensuring that what you put on your plate is ethically sourced, you are improving the lives of hundreds of farmers and families. Buying fair trade is an investment in the health and livelihood of workers, the environment, and sustainable business in developing nations. As a company with a nearly identical mission, that sounds amazing to us!