Fair Trade: Trick or Treat?

Fair Trade Month Quiz:

Question 4: Name one benefit of Fair Trade.

Answer: Quality products, care for the environment, and community impact


Haven’t answered our Fair Trade Quiz question of the day, yet?  Well, why not?  The answer’s right there!  If that isn’t enough for you, the first 100 participants* get a sample of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Certified™ Organic House Blend and all answers get entered to the grand prize drawing of 12-months of Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Certified™ Coffees.  Go here to enter: http://www.eatdrinkandbefair.com/quiz.php

*Sorry, employees and their immediate family members of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. are not eligible. But keep an eye out for our internal Fair Trade quiz. 


When you think of October, what do you think of?  Pumpkins, leaves, Halloween…Fair Trade? 

If that last item came to mind, congratulations! Still, a great many folks have still to hear about Fair Trade. And some who have heard of Fair Trade are under the impression that it’s “just another marketing thing.” So it’s not only fair — it’s important — to answer the fundamental question: is Fair Trade really fair? Is it equitable? Is it a viable solution to the price crisis that has plagued coffee for years?

So, in the spirit of the season: In a nutshell — Fair Trade: trick, or treat?









The ideals of Fair Trade are simple and well-intended: break the cycle of poverty by offering farmers a price floor and a ready marketplace for their products, and in exchange win assurances of eco-friendly and sustainable farming practices. In theory this cycle should lead to an upward spiral of increasing economic stability and product quality, and in practice, it does. There are a great many success stories that can be told…


    • …of the coffee farmers in Colombia who have been empowered to make a stand against drug lords — their lands now produce coffee that earns them a livable wage, they no longer need to grow coca.


  • …of the farmers on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala who have been able to distribute medicine to the growers’ children and improve their nutrition, eliminating what had been an appalling infant mortality rate. (Those children are now enjoying a newly expanded school, too, which I felt privileged to visit.)



  • …of the farmers in Huatusco, Mexico who have reforested their surrounding lands, bringing their ecosystem back from the edge of destruction, and in so doing have earned organic certification bonuses.



  • …of the cooperative in East Timor that has not only built clinics and schools, but served as an island of calm and refuge as lands around it erupted in civil war.



  • … of the cooperative in the highlands of Aceh, Sumatra, that not only has been able to offer micro-loans to its members to fund new and diverse business, but was able to donate tons of food to tsunami victims in Banda Aceh, to build and repair 34 homes, and fund continuing support for orphans and widows in the community following the disaster.

Fair Trade certified cooperatives build not only increased wealth and operational capacity for their members, but also social, cultural, health and educational support networks. It’s these networks that will ultimately prove to be the real force for sustainability in these coffee communities… Fair Trade price supports simply served as a springboard.

In short, Fair Trade has proved a positive force for change in coffee-growing communities around the world, and increasingly in coffee shops, college campuses, and family kitchens across these United States. Speaking of which, you better check your chocolate supply… there are bound to be a rash of ghosts, ghouls, and the occasional princess arriving at your door in a few short weeks. 


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