1. I’m right there with you. My very favorite fair trade company is Equal Exchange. One of the board members lives close by and came to our coffee shop to give us a course on milk and how to steam it correctly.

    That being said, I’d rather people do something than nothing, so I don’t condemn slightly lower standards that still far exceed the norm. However, I think it would be a detriment to the fair trade movement as a whole if the larger system became the only system. Smaller organizations are capable of gauging their impact much more quickly and make changes that ensure their structure is humane and environmentally sustainable. I think it’s also far more empowering to everyone involved to have a greater stake in the success or failure of their company. But I am strongly anti-corporation and have a small business of my own, so that worldview informs my judgment.

  2. Jenna

    Thanks so much for this important insight on Fair Trade. It’s a complex world indeed, and so important that people are out there engaging in dialogue and educating others.

    I work for Fair Trade USA, and wanted to comment briefly on a few of these items for clarification. First, Fair Trade USA works with about 800 businesses, the vast majority of which are actually small-medium sized brands. We also work with around 1.3MM farmers and workers, the vast majority (over 95%) of whom are small-scale farmers organized into co-operatives. Our approach to Fair Trade is not one divided by size, but rather, one driven by inclusivity. We work with brands of all sizes, and we want to include as many farmers and workers as possible in the opportunities of Fair Trade to drive greater impact for all.

    In regards to standards, we do have very rigorous requirements for certification, and share many common standards with Fairtrade International. We were members of FLO for many years and worked closely with them to develop and adopt the standards. Where we differ is really who they can apply to–scope.

    At the end of the day, we’re all here taking slightly different approaches to a common goal–empowering farmers and workers to fight poverty through better trade. Today far less than 1% of the products we consume globally are Fair Trade. The question should be about how we can work together to grow that pie.

    • Julia

      Thanks for your comments, Jenna! You raise some good points. I should have pointed out that Fair Trade USA doesn’t work exclusively with large brands, but just allows their standards to be applied to larger brands than other certifications do.

      Thanks for your work in fair trade!

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