Fair Trade Month is winding down as October comes to a close. But it's not too late to learn how the products you buy can help alleviate poverty around the world. A few simple choices at the grocery store can mean a world of difference to the growers and farm workers half a world away who help bring your morning cup of java to the breakfast table.
So what exactly does "fair trade" mean?
In a nutshell, fair trade is a solution to poverty in the developing world.
Farmers and other goods producers receive fair prices, fair market access, and funds to invest in social, economic, and environmental programs.
Fair trade also ensures that farms and work sites offer ethical and fair labor conditions to employees.
For the consumer, fair trade-certified goods provide ethical purchasing power, ensuring your wallet helps people and the planet alike.
So how do you know what to buy? Fair Trade USA is the independent third-party certifier of fair trade products in the U.S. Just look for its "fair trade certified" logo on products in your grocery store. Or check out its buying guide at the website.
Coffee remains the easiest way to support the fair trade revolution. The U.S. market has an abundance of coffee brands that offer fair trade options. At TakePart we know changing habits can be hard. So ease into buying fair trade by starting with coffee. Here are four easy-to-find (and tasty) coffee brands that can be purchased in good conscience.
With stores practically everywhere, it's simple to switch to Safeway's house label fair trade organic coffee. FairTrade USA says Safeway's three blends come from Mexico, Peru and Guatemala. The CIRSA cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico—whose 571 members are primarily of Tzotzil descent—provide one blend. Another is grown by the La Florida cooperative in Chanchamayo, Peru.
That's right, kids: Wal-Mart, the allegedly big, bad, meanie of the retail world, has its own in-house fair trade line. Why not show the folks in Arkansas that you can appreciate low prices AND fair trade products by switching to Sam's Choice fair trade brew?
So you can't go without your Starbucks fix, but you want to make the switch? Well, you're in luck. The Seattle coffee giant's Cafe Estima blend is fair trade certified. The blend isn't frequently served in the chain's locations; so you should probably buy it to make at home.
Feature photo: Jar0d/Creative Commons via Flickr