Monday, September 03, 2007

Fair Trade on Labor Day

I'm still learning my new town. Truth be told, I'm still learning my new house. Resettling is very confusing, that's for sure.

So, it was with great triumph that I found the Trader Joe's grocery store. It's in Media, the next town over, and there's a sign on the door of the store that says that Media is the first Fair Trade City in the United States. Roughly it means that there is an official commitment to serve fair trade products at official gatherings, that there is a fair trade advisory committee at the city-government level, that fair trade products are readily available at local establishments... You can read about it here: Media.

Here's some stuff that social workers know. Globally, women comprise 70% of the 1.2 billion people making less than $1 a day. They provide for most of the needs of their families with food, health care, education, clothing and a safe place to live. They work an average of 60 to 90 hours a week, mostly as unpaid labor. And when able to generate income, women use a greater portion of their income then men towards the well-being of their family, paying for their children's schooling, better nutrition, and medicine.

Moreover, about 80% of fair-trade artisans are women, and most of them have children. Their income is used primarily for their children's needs, and their participation in a fair trade cooperative improves their lives and their status as family members and community members. Fair Trade is one of few activities that has successfully helped women and their children out of poverty

It's not without trouble and a need for nuance. Fair trade is not without its detractors. The concept, though, is so simple: to create a sustainable and just global economic system through fair trade (Fair Trade Federation). It makes my decision simple, too; it's worth the trouble and expense. The World Fair Trade Day website claims ‘Coffee, cocoa (chocolate), bananas, oranges and sugar are among the food sectors that most exploit child labour.’ Most of these products have a Fair Trade alternative.”

In the past two years of blogging I've talked myself into purchasing fair trade coffee. It's not that much more expensive than regular coffee, and I would know. I drink a boatload of coffee. I was worried that the switch would be a painful one. Seriously, it wasn't. Give it a shot. Now I'm moving on to fair trade chocolate, sugar, bananas, and oranges -starting with sugar and bananas, since that's what we purchase most frequently.

What else should I be doing? I'm open to suggestions.

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