Fair trade is fair pay for the farmers, craftsmen and artisans that provide many of the consumer products that we enjoy every day. Fair trade is also a social movement concerned with both social equality for workers in developing countries and promoting environmental sustainable farming and manufacturing practices.
Ten Thousand Village near Rollins College
By the 1940's, large multi-national corporations discovered they could save significant costs by purchasing agriculture products, such as coffee and tea, from developing countries. Large corporations could use their size to control the market and pay small farms incredibly low prices. Often farmers only received pennies for goods companies could then use and resell in developed countries at an incredible profit. Often the wages paid was not enough for farmers and their families to live off of, which lead to higher poverty and unsustainable farming practices in much of the developing world.
The first to bring light to this problem were not-for-profits such as Oxfam and SERRV International. Once the issue became recognized by the people, many for-profit companies began to start branding themselves as more ethical and environmentally friendly. Labeling initiates such as FairTrade International and Fair Trade USA were results of this, and serve to identify real fair trade items from products simply claiming to be.
Today, the issue of unfair wages and unsustainable farming practices continue. The focus of fair trade has moved beyond just coffee and tea and now includes certifying and labeling cocoa and chocolates, dried fruits, fruit juices, sugar, cotton, rice, honey, spices, nuts, flowers and wine just to name a few. There has also been much more emphasis on handicrafts which are often made by women supporting families. Stores such as Ten Thousand Villages (which includes one store located in Winter Park, across from Rollins College on Park Ave) specialize in fair trade jewelry, clothing and art.