Archive for the ‘Fair Trade’ Category

… and having trouble navigating the waters?

Many thanks to Fair World Project for their easy-to-use, interactive, fun tool to help you distinguish between seven different certification schemes.

Meets FWP’s expectations and/or is a model program in this area.

Acceptable policy that at least meets current industry standards, but there is room for improvement.

Problem area/red flag that needs immediate improvement.

Click here to see how seven certification schemes measure up to a list of “fair” criteria and then see which brands use the different certification labels on their products.

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Once upon a time there was a very sad banana.   

“Why was he so sad, you might ask.

Well maybe, it’s because although many people appreciated him for his golden yellow color and his sweet, yummy flavor, they never took the time to get to know him. Really get to know him, that is. Don’t get me wrong; he was flattered when people walked down the aisles of the supermarket and they remarked on his looks, made comments about his flavor, and how good he would taste in their morning cereal. It’s not that he didn’t like hearing these compliments and all. But, he couldn’t help thinking that the chatter was, well, you know, kind of superficial. I mean there was A LOT more to the banana than just what met the eye. (more…)

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By Nicholas Reid, Equal Exchange Natural Foods Sales Representative

Equal Exchange has credited co-ops with building Fair Trade coffee and making the alternative trade system possible, by keeping farmers organized in developing countries, and connecting them to consumers through co-ops like Equal Exchange and their local food co-ops. This October, while we celebrate Co-op and Fair Trade Month, and consider the values and successes of these two movements that are so intrinsically connected, Equal Exchange would like to push ourselves even further. The support and collaboration of co-ops is crucial to the future of organic coffee.

Declining yields due to soil exhaustion and global warming are threatening specialty coffee production, and the livelihoods of thousands of farming communities that rely on it. Once charged with making coffee cultivation economically viable for small-scale producers, Equal Exchange now asks co-ops to support those farmers in their efforts to adapt, innovate and invest in the future of high-quality, organic coffee.

The history of commercial farming in Latin America (and in the United States) is one of extreme short-sightedness, environmental destruction and an ever-increasing reliance on chemical and technological inputs. One need only look at the former sugar plantations of northeast Brazil, now deserts and agricultural wastelands, or the destruction of local communities and ecosystems that banana cultivation led to in Central America, to see that modern agriculture effectively raped the soil of nutrients, destroyed local flora and fauna that sustained the land, and nearly ended the possibility of human existence in those areas. (more…)

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International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year to recognize the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world. Equal Exchange is proud to support women-centered projects through our work with small farmer co-ops. Today we’re highlighting a few of them. From income diversity to leadership training, these projects represent the ways in which organizing can bring opportunity.

New Women’s Initiatives at the Tierra Nueva Co-op in Nicaragua

Agueda Ordenana, member of the Tierra Nueva Women's Commission

Agueda Ordenana, member of the Tierra Nueva Women's Commission

By Susan Sklar, Interfaith Program Manager

At the Tierra Nueva Union of Co-operatives in the Boaco region of Nicaragua,  some new initiatives are helping women to improve their economic conditions.  Delegates from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Equal Exchange traveled to Nicaragua this past January to visit Equal Exchange´s coffee farmer partners.  Members explained how they are trying to help women become active participants in the co-operative.

In Nicaragua, there’s a common understanding that the ownership of land belongs to men; when a woman marries and inherits land from her father, her husband automatically assumes control over it.  But Tierra Nueva, a union of 600 small coffee and honey farmers, is making an effort to change gender relationships and inequitable practices.   In 2006, Tierra Nueva applied for a grant to conduct a gender survey among its farmers. The focus groups and interviews documented what was already widely known: that the participation of women in Tierra Nueva farming co-operatives was extremely limited. As a direct result of these findings, Tierra Nueva created a gender policy program that was officially approved by the membership in October.  It formally authorized the actions of the Women’s Commission, which is composed of five female representatives from the various primary coffee co-ops. (more…)

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Fair Trade Gift Ideas

Article written by Esther West, Interfaith Program Representative and Ashley Symons, Marketing Writer

This time of year especially, consumers have the power to participate in a movement that supports long-term partner relationships based on equality, environmental sustainability, and democratic business structures via co-operatives. Here are some ideas for holiday gifts that truly keep on giving.

Alternative Giving
Looking for a creative, green gift idea? Make a donation to benefit small-scale farmers on behalf of a friend or loved one through the Small Farmers Green Planet Fund, which supports farmer projects in South Africa, Nicaragua, Mexico and Colombia. The gift recipient will receive a card letting them know about the donation made in their name.

  • $100 supports Embara Chambi indigenous coffee farmers in the Asprocafe Ingruma co-operative in Caldas, Colombia, build a composting plant which will enable more farmers to transition to organic, protect their fragile eco-system and attain higher incomes.
  • $50 supports indigenous South African rooibos farmers of the Heiveld and Wupperthal organizations as they employ traditional soil and water conservation methods to adapt to the negative effects of global warming on their crops and livelihoods.
  • $25 supports women coffee farmers of the CESMACH co-operative in Chiapas, Mexico, as they plant organic gardens and fruit trees, raise chickens and rescue endangered native plants in the El Triunfo Biosphere.

Read about more ways you can support the Small Farmers Green Planet Fund.

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