Fair Trade – What is it?
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
Today’s Food for Thought really is something to think about. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, education is key. I encourage you to research this topic more for yourself and decide what is right for your family.
“Fair Trade”. You might have seen these words listed on various products in the supermarket lately, but what does it mean? Basically, it means that the farmer or producer of the product, will receive a fair price for what they’ve produced. Some also call this a “living wage” dependent upon where they live and what is considered a living wage for them.
While these products are usually a commodity like coffee, tea, or sugar there are many other fair trade items today from house wares to food to musical instruments. Care is taken to respect the cultural identity of the grower, producer, or artist and all aspects of production from start to finish are open to the public to review to ensure the goals of fair trade are met. These aspects are overseen by the Fair Trade Federation.
The Fair Trade Federation is an association that promotes North American organizations which are committed to fair trade practices. These practices are thought to alleviate poverty by creating opportunities for people in impoverished communities regardless of sex or station in life.
There are a few things the Fair Trade Federation encourages from its growers including practicing organic farming, preserving natural resources, and creating a business that goes on for future generations.
There are some detractors to the idea of Fair Trade (especially when promoting commodity items) because the idea of Fair Trade does not fully address issues relating to market saturation and lower prices that push out smaller producers and farmers. It is said that the idea behind “fair trade” is good, moral, and sound, but it’s mass production that actually controls the market for commodity items.
What can you do? You can try to shop for local products as much as possible and when you do shop outside of your local area, seek out Fair Trade merchandise. Fair Trade is all practiced locally when you support your community. 🙂