Fair Trade and the Conscious Consumer
Imagine a world in which all business was conducted in the most equitable and sustainable way possible. Impossible you say. . . especially in a world where the so-called “free market” dominates and the invisible hand of capitalism wields its power to ensure profit above all else.
Yet in pockets all over the world, equitable and sustainable forms of business are cropping up and are ultimately becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Why? Because of people like you who vote with their dollars to ensure that historically low-income and disadvantaged farmers and artisans get paid a just and fair wage for the crops they grow and the crafts they produce. Called the Fair Trade Movement, it is based on principles of economic and social justice. Fair Trade is a financial relationship between producers, sellers, and consumers based on the principle of equity within the exchange of goods.
Coffee: From Crop to Cup
The Fair Trade Route vs. the Conventional Trade Route
Over 50% of the world’s coffee is grown by small family farmers. Most small farmers, who are not organized into marketing cooperatives are at the mercy of middlemen or estate owners to sell their product, capturing a mere 2%-4% of the retail price of coffee. Low prices and lack of control of the processing, exporting and marketing of the beans trap farmers in a cycle of poverty and debt.
Fair Trade Coffee Route
There are 550,000 farmers who are members of cooperatives which sell directly to Fair Trade importers in North America and Europe. By linking directly with markets, farmers in Fair Trade cooperatives are able to earn 3 to 5 times as much as they receive by selling their coffee through conventional routes. These cooperatives are democratically organized and often invest a portion of the Fair Trade premium into community development, quality improvement, and environmental protection programs. Source: www.globalexchange.org
On The Ground
Organizations such as Traverse City, Michigan-based On The Ground foster fair trade principles. On The Ground’s purpose is to support sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. They accomplish this mission by partnering with other philanthropic agencies, donors, and communities to provide opportunities for indigenous communities around the globe to build lasting infrastructure. In concert with sustainable trading practices by OTG partners, this infrastructure makes it possible for these communities to create real and meaningful prosperity for all their citizens.
Fair Trade Principles
- Long-term direct trading relationships
- Prompt payment of fair prices and wages
- No child, forced, or otherwise exploited labor
- Workplace non-discrimination, gender equity and freedom of association
- Safe working conditions and reasonable work hours
- Investment in community development projects
- Environmental sustainability
- Traceability and transparency
Consumers spent a record $4.9 billion world wide on fair trade products in 2009, an amazing 15% increase from the previous year, according to the Fair Trade Labeling Organization.
Oryana carries a wide variety of fair trade products including chocolate, coffee, sugar, and flowers.
Products Certified by the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Dried Fruits and Vegetables
Olives and Olive oil
Spices and herbs