Fair Trade: Keeping it Real

Knowing what is really Fair Trade is tough. There are so many labels, certifications and sound bytes out there that we don’t know who to trust; there are certifiers going rogue to the dismay of farmers and fair trade activists, and there are, in general, many differing opinions about how fair trade should evolve in a changing world.

We are 100% committed to trade justice, and as fair trade evolves, we are evolving as well. We are currently doing a review of our trade practices to make sure that they are still a full manifestation of our deepest values. Here are few things we are thinking that we want to run by you:

  • We will buy from farmer groups that we have relationships with, regardless of their social certifications. While the Fair Trade certification for farmers is a good indicator of fair pay, treatment, and democratic participation, it is not the only or necessarily the best way. Our partners in the Proisch association in Mexico, for example, actively chose not to become Fair Trade certified, and we respect their decision.
  • When we buy from groups that we don’t have strong relationships with yet, they should be Fair Trade certified. Until we can get to know these groups personally, the Fair Trade certification gives us a baseline confidence that we share the same values.
  • We will maintain our support of and membership in the Fair Trade Federation- a membership based organization of 100%, fully committed fair trade companies. As a part of a group we will be more successful in influencing trade policies, educating consumers, and putting pressure on other companies to do better.
  • We will support a farmer-driven fair trade movement. For too long, fair trade has been led by people in developed countries instead of by the people that the system is supposed to serve: the farmers. We are starting to support 100% farmer-led initiatives (such as the Small Producer Symbol) that will help them take control of their own movement.
  • Everything we do must be completely transparent and independently accountable to both the farmers and you.

A part of our trade-practices review means reiterating that you are an integral part of this trading system. Consumer activists have a lot of power to do good in the world, and we want your input on how we can best help you to do this. Are we missing something? Are you happy with what we are doing? Please send us your thoughts!

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