Fair trade describes a system of trade aimed at equitable treatment of farmers and workers worldwide. Its basic goals include fair wages, safe work environments and self-sufficiency for workers, cultural awareness, and consumer education. Various organizations, most notably FLO (Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International), ensure that products have been brought to market under fair trade conditions before giving them fair trade certification. The most common fair trade products include coffee, bananas, sugar and cotton, and fair trade organizations are typically involved with farmers and craftspeople in the southern hemisphere. Fair trade organizations also require environmental sustainability and responsibility from producers.
Fair trade products are increasingly available throughout the U.S. Look for the green-and-blue FLO International Fairtrade Certification mark and the red and yellow FTO (Fair Trade Organizations) mark on your next purchases. Few local products will likely bear fair trade certification, but items like coffee and chocolate that are imported from southern countries should be available in fair trade varieties, and can be found online as well. If you find that the selection is limited, consider asking your local market to carry more fair trade-certified products.
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Visit the Fair Trade Federation website.
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