fair trade products 101
Did you know that before this concept was made a reality, farmers throughout the world were forced to live in poverty, not being able to receive a fair price for their products, and often leaving them unable to provide food or clothes for their own families? That sometimes these unfair practices went so far as the misrepresentation of the weight of products like chocolate or coffee or bananas in order to pay the farmer a lower price that was promised?
Fortunately, a new revolution of sorts has begun in the world. With fair trade, many of these same farmers are able to sell their harvest from their coffee farm at a price that allows them to support their own families.
why should we buy fair trade productsSince smaller farmers produce 70% of the world’s coffee, it’s no wonder that fair trade coffee is one of the biggest products discussed. Without fair trade, a coffee farmer can receive a minimal $.25 per pound for his crop which doesn’t even cover the costs associated with the harvest, let alone let him buy food and clothing for his own family. In addition to the economic difference, Fair trade allows the farmers to continue to grow their crops in an organic way, therefore allowing them to preserve the ecosystem that has existed for centuries.
Coffee is not the only product that is known to have this label attached to it, but it is one of the largest. Farmers producing crops like bananas also operate fair trade certified farms for the very same reasons that the coffee farmers do it: to get a much better price for their product so that they can make enough to provide for their families and keep their children in school and out of the fields.
Before these more humane practices, many children had to quit school to work in the fields because their families were too poor to afford even minimal costs associated with attending school such as shoes. Some clothing manufacturers are becoming certified retailers and for the same reasons as the farmers: to allow those who work in the factories to earn a decent wage so that their children can attend school, their families can have food, clothing and shelter, and their families can have adequate health care. These are all things most of us take for granted, but for those in third world countries, this concept and practice can allow them to make enough money to provide these basic human needs.
Others products that are available include crafts, gift items, flowers, fabric, and tea. Of course, with the gift and crafts items, a buyer is still certainly getting a bargain on these handmade items but now in the process, is helping someone keep food on their table.
other industry changes
Fair trade has affected the auto and furniture industry as well though in a different way. Certainly, one cannot order a fair trade auto from the Toyota Motors or any other company any more than one can have furniture shipped from Thailand. What fair trade has done for these industries is assist in removing the tariffs that were involved in the export of the goods, allowing many of the foreign manufacturers to open plants in other countries such as Toyota and Mitsubishi have done in the United States. It has opened the door to the durable goods manufacturers to export to other companies at a reasonable cost and to open plants in other countries where the workers can expect to receive a decent wage.