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TIP OF THE DAY: Buy A Fair Trade Product

October is National Fair Trade Month, so today’s tip is to buy something that’s fairly traded.

Most people don’t understand Fair Trade. One of the reasons is that, unlike the USDA Certified Organic Seal that appears on all organic product packaging—regardless of the particular certifying agency (there are certifiers in every state)—the different Fair Trade-related certifying organizations have their own logos. Some, like Equal Exchange and Rainforest Alliance, aren’t even called anything related to “fair” or “trade.”

Rather, the complexity is more like kosher certification, where hundreds of different kosher certifiers are involved, each with their own logo or mark (called a hechsher, pronounced HECK-sure). Consumers decide if they want to buy products certified only by the largest and best-known, or if they’ll trust a hechsher they don’t know—or recognize that it’s a hechsher in the first place.


Pick just one product you use regularly, and make it Fair Trade. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Coffee.

So the Fair Trade challenge is that there isn’t one logo or mark that consumers can instantly recognize as a fairly traded product. The consumer has to do the work to figure it out.

But let’s start with the basics.


Fair Trade International, Fair For Life, Rainforest Alliance and other certification organizations ensure that farmers are paid fair value for their products. Without Fair Trade, brokers can strike deals that pay the farmers less than it costs them to grow their crops.

Fair Trade affords money for adult (instead of child) labor, sound agricultural practices and a minimum standard of living, including healthcare and education for their families.

The term “Fair Trade” is used generically, but it is a trademarked term authorized by TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source.

TransFair is one of some twenty members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S.


Buy Fair Traded products so retailers will
know consumers want them, and keep
them in stock. This product is also organic. Photo courtesy



Fair Trade is completely separate from organic certification. Some products pursue both certifications.


You are one of the stakeholders in Fair Trade. In addition to helping some of the world’s poorest people improve their lots, you help with sustainability.

Small actions build into large ones. You can help the Fair Trade movement buy buying just one Fair Trade-certified product. Whether it’s your coffee, sugar, or anything else, your purchase tells retailers that Fair Trade products are important to consumers.

If no one buys them, they won’t stay on the shelf.

So browse your store shelf and buy one—or more—items. Help to make the world a better place.

NOTE: If you can’t find Fair Trade Certified products in your supermarket, try a natural foods store.



Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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