Coffee farmerOur food choices connect us to people all around the world. Sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé and chef Bryant Terry discuss the importance of fair trade.
What is fair trade?

Bryant Terry quoteAnna Lappé: Many of us like foods that we can’t get locally. Think about chocolate, coffee, and bananas–foods that are hard to find from farmers near you. We have to rely on a global trading system. I’ve talked with coffee farmers in Kenya who have worked an entire year harvesting coffee before sending it off to market. After the middlemen took their cut, the producers got less than what they had spent to produce the coffee. When you choose Fair Trade Certified products, it means that the product has been certified by a body that ensures food producers get a fair price. Without the Fair Trade Certified seal, you have no idea how much the farmer got.

Bryant Terry: Fair trade a way to structure equity in international trade, especially around food. It evokes a relationship between consumers and producers based on transparency, dialogue, and respect. There are a lot of producers living in developing countries, mostly in the Global South, who are growing and harvesting food products we enjoy such as chocolate, coffee and tea. Fair trade is a way to support economic development in these countries.

Tea farm workerHow can people support fair trade?

Bryant Terry: There are fair trade labeling bodies that help shoppers identify fair trade products. It’s as simple as looking for the label and supporting those options. Fair trade products are appearing in more and more stores. It happens when people make their preference clear. We need to raise our voices and say, “This is what we want.”

Anna Lappé: I like coffee. I drink coffee almost every day. And I love that I can drink Fair Trade Certified coffee and know that I am connected, in a very real way, to a farmer somewhere far away, helping ensure that he gets a fair price.

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