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December 10, 2016
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‘Fair trade’ compromised

Available at the Equal Exchange website ( is a petition that reads in part: “The corporate, plantation model put forth by TransFair/Fair Trade USA is not Fair Trade. This strategy means that small farmers will now be forced to compete with large plantations for market access—the very reason Fair Trade was created in the first place.”

How FTUSA’s decision will affect cooperatives and small farmers remains to be seen. In the meantime, how can you be sure that the product you’re about to purchase actually upholds the nine principles of fair trade?

That’s where it gets complicated to do the right thing, as in many of our efforts to make sustainable choices. Besides looking for the fair trade label (be aware that some items do not have a label because that raises the cost of the product), research the company to be sure it is a member of a bona fide fair-trade organization.

A good overview of fair trade issues is available at and a searchable database to find fair trade products is available at www.fairtradefedera