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What does Fair-trade mean?

"A bite of Fair Trade chocolate means a lot to farmers in South Africa. It opens the doors to development and gives children access to healthcare, education, and a decent standard of living."
- K. Ohemeng-Tinyase
Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Cocoa Cooperative, Ghana

Since the late 1940's, there's been a quiet movement underfoot that has slowly gained momentum over the years. Today, it has grown into one of the most significant trade organizations in the world, empowering rural and poverty-stricken third world farmers and artisans around the globe. Fair Trade, organized under Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), is an international movement that works to bring the benefits of international trade to the least empowered people in the world that produce goods, by organizing them to combine their efforts and trade directly with Western markets. By producing and marketing their own products, these farmers and artisans can develop their own business and in return receive a fair price for their labor. The result of this is nothing less than spectacular.

Most farmers have combined efforts to form farming cooperatives to garner a greater market share, creating thriving communities within the freedom of a democratic business structure. Through these cooperatives, farmers and producers are empowered to educate each other on the processes and procedures for trading their product to the international markets, ultimately benefiting all. They learn to stand on their own feet and make it without depending on foreign aid.

In the United States, Fair Trade products are certified through TransFair USA, the only independent, third party certifier in the states. Through TransFair USA, producers and products are monitored to make sure there is strict adherence with international Fair Trade criteria as established by FLO.

What does Fair Trade guarantee?

A fair price: Fair Trade producers and workers receive a fair market price for their product. Higher wage means a better quality of life for themselves and their families.

Quality products

Fair prices translate to manufacturing practices that don't cut corners in order to save money.

Care for the environment

Most Fair Trade products are grown organically, which cuts back on pollution, habitat degradation and dependency on agri-business chemicals.

Positive community impact

Members of Fair Trade cooperatives have successfully impacted their local communities through education, awareness and action in protecting their croplands and ways of life from destructive outside influences. A greater local economy means better healthcare and education opportunities for people that have had to go without.

"In four years, TransFair has leveraged limited resources to certify 74.2 million pounds of Fair Trade coffee. This has generated $60 million (US) of additional income for farmers, providing lasting benefi ts for their families and the earth."- TransFair USA


Milwaukee is the nation's first Fair Trade City!


Domestic Fair Trade

Many of the same global market forces that have helped to shape the international Fair Trade movement is at work right within our own borders. Obstacles faced by domestic family farmers and farm workers have only become more severe in recent years. While most would consider the problems of plantation labor to be an issue exclusive to third world economies, recent campaigns by farm labor organizations such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have exposed injustices on "factory farms" in Florida and other parts of the country.

Did you know?

  • In the US and Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death among farmers
  • Between 1935 and 1997, the total number of farms in the U.S. fell from 6.5 million to just over 2 million.By 2003, there were just 1.9 million working farmers in the U.S. - less than the prison population
  • Today, just 10 corporations account for over 50% of the revenue generated globally in food retailing

In early 2005, a group of concerned agricultural leaders began the a real discussion about the shared interests of family farmers, farm workers, organic advocates and Fair Trade Organizations regarding domestic agriculture. The initial group included representatives from Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, Farmer Direct Co-operative of Saskatchewan, Canada (both farmer co-ops) and Equal Exchange (worker co-op). Agricultural Justice Project, CATA (El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas) and Quality Certification Services have also been working since 1999 to develop domestic fair trade standards including just working conditions for workers, interns and children on farms.

Try the new Equal Exchange Domestic Fair Trade snacks sold at Outpost. You can even track their trip from farm to your table! www.equalexchange.com/trackyour-snacks

For more information on Fair Trade

Sustainability Report
We belong to the Sustainable Food Trade Association. Read our annual report here.
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