We buy “local” to support the farmers in our communities. We buy organic because it’s healthier for our family and more environmentally friendly. But why aren’t we buying more Fair Trade Certified products?
What is Fair Trade? Fair Trade is an alternative system of international trade based upon sound business models, principles of economic justice and environmental sustainability. Fair Trade gives farmers access to global markets. Consumers get purchasing power to press for social and economic change.
The history and stories behind Fair Trade are astounding. Several decades ago in southern countries, a lack of market access, unscrupulous intermediaries, and volatile market prices kept farmers in a cycle of poverty. When prices fell below production, the farmers and workers were unable to feed their families, keep their children in school, and provide for health care. In some cases they couldn’t stay on their land. Fifty years ago in Africa, impoverished small-scale farmers worked with international aid organizations. Together they laid the foundation for a trading system that ensured a fair price for their produce and opened the door to global markets.
Fair Trade Certified products now help build economic independence by empowering small farmers to organize into certified business cooperatives. They then develop their own market expertise, bypass local middlemen, and bring their products directly to the market allowing them to make small but important gains in their living standards. “Fair Trade Certified” encourages organic and environmental sustainable practices, sustainable farming and production practices, minimizes pollutants and herbicides, bans the most dangerous pesticides and eliminates abusive child labor. For these reasons Susan Knight started the Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee last month. Our committee’s goal is to promote and encourage the buying and selling of fair trade goods in stores and restaurants throughout Revelstoke. We have registered with TransFair Canada a non-profit certification and public education organization promoting Fair Trade Certified. Through TransFair Canada we hope to join our neighbors Golden and Nakusp in getting recognized as a Fair Trade Town. In Revelstoke, the following businesses sell Fair Trade products and the list is growing:
- Coopers Foods
- Jus Juiced
- The Modern Bakeshop & Cafe
- Mountain Goodness Natural Foods
- PT Farm Market
- Talisman Fibre & Trading Company
Christy Shaw, owner of Mountain Goodness Natural Food and a member of the Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee said “I think this campaign is a great idea! We feel it is important to bring quality products to our customers as we continue to purchase items from around the world such as tea, cocoa, chocolate, sugar, as well as other goods. It is important to educate consumers as to the “real cost” of these items when farmers aren’t paid a fair wage.”
Fair Trade Certified benefits Canadian consumers by giving them options of purchasing according to their principles and values, empowers them to be a player in the solution to global trade inequities, provides them with products of superior quality, and assures them of an ethical source for their food and non-food purchases. Fair Trade is not just about giving farmers a fair price for their product. It is about building an equitable trade relationship between producers and consumers and opens a gateway to explore all of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of production and consumption in the global economy.
I’m not an activist by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just the neighbor next door doing my best for my family. I desire a healthy planet for my children. I believe in ethical conduct and giving back to my community. As a wife, mom, citizen, and business owner, I want to make a difference in the world I live in. Please join me and the Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee in supporting Fair Trade. When we go to the stores, cafes, and restaurants we can do something – we can make decisions about what we are buying and send a very clear message. For more information please contact Susan Knight, Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or #250-837-6424. To learn more about TransFair Canada, please visit www.transfair.ca.
Shirley Berg is a member of the Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee