By: Hannah Heitz
“Fair trade” certification is becoming more common; this label can be found on coffee, chocolate, seafood, and sugar. Fair Trade products are prominently featured at specialized stores such as Whole Foods, but their products can also be found in more mainstream stores, such as Kroger or Publix. But what does Fair Trade certified mean? It means fair labor conditions, direct trade, community development, environmental sustainability, fair prices and credit, and democratic, transparent organizations. This label is certified by a non-profit organization that requires annual audits, fees, and continued progress towards a more sustainable, ethical product in order to maintain certification. A company can tout any of these claims, but without the label and certification, it is difficult to verify ethical, sustainable practices.
Many brands have changed unethical practices due to mounting pressure from human rights groups, including Hershey’s 2013 pledge to commit to 100% fair-trade cacao by 2020. Yet brands such as NuGo Nutrition and Ghirardelli have failed to show a commitment to Fair Trade practices, although they may describe other sustainability efforts. Both of these brands are featured in Cox Hall Market and the Convenience Store, where students have the choice of whether to pay a little bit more for an ethical, fair-trade certified product.
Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Marcos Alejos, Supervisor at the Eagle Convenience Store, and David Mandel, Director of Exhibitions and Design at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
1: Crinnion, Walter J. "Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer." Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 15.1 (2010): 4-12.