12/15/10

Fair Trade Certification

Yippee! The January 2010 issue of Environmental Nutrition arrived in my mailbox the other day. I took a study break from Cardiovascular disease and Hypertension (quiz on FRI!) to read through one of my favorite newsletters.
This issue was filled with info so I wanted to share something new with you...it was also new to me! I summed up the article for you.


What does Fair Trade Certified mean?


When you consider Fair Trade food products, your first thought is probably coffee. In the last decade, awareness has grown, along with the number of products bearing the Fair Trade Certified seal. More than 6000 products are now available in the U.S. including rice, bananas, tea, wine and cotton.
The Fair Trade program moves beyond fair wages for farmers; it also promotes fair labor standards and pricing, sustainable agriculture and social responsibility. Farmers who agree to abide by Fair Trade standards are guaranteed a minimum fair trade price, plus a social price premium for community development and an additional organic price premium for organic growing methods. Although organic production is not a requirement for Fair Trade Certified products, Fair Trade farmers are more likely to use sustainable methods and not chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. It's common for Fair Trade revenues to be used to finance training in organic farming and the cost of organic certification.

Defining Fair Trade Certified:
TransFair USA licenses over 600 U.S. companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label. The only 3rd Fair Trade goods certifier in the U.S., it ensures compliance with the Fair Trade standards set forth by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, which include:
-Fair Prices - Farmers receive a guaranteed minimum price and a premium for certified organic products.
-Fair labor conditions - Farm workers have safe working conditions and living wages, forced child labor is prohibited.
-Direct trade - Importers purchase from Fair Trade producers as directly as possible, eliminating middleman.
-Democratic and transparent organizations - Farmers and workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.
-Community development - Farmers and workers invest Fair Trade revenues into projects like scholarships and organic certification.
-Environmental sustainability - Ecofriendly farming methods protect farmers' health and preserve valued ecosystems. No harmful chemicals or genetically modified foods are used.

Purchasing these products is an investment in farms, communities and the environment. It helps farmers lift themselves out of poverty by developing business skills needed to compete in the global marketplace.
Since it began certifying coffee in 1998, TransFair estimates farmers have received close to $200 million more in revenue than they would have without fair-trade status. Though buyers buy more for Fair Trade products, the consumer doesn't necessarily. Coffees and chocolates, for example, are competitively priced with other gourmet and specialty foods. As Fair Trade goods become more available, look for increased competition to help lower prices.




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