All photos courtesy of Fair Trade USA

What Does Fair Trade Mean?
Sarah Tuttle
By Sarah Tuttle

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When it comes to choosing the best coffee, there’s more to consider than if you’d like cream or sugar. As our director of merchandising, Jessica Glendenning, explains, “When Brandless looked at the category of coffee, we made choices for what matters most, just as we did when we made our entire food assortment non-GMO. Our coffees are Fair Trade Certified, organic, and single origin.” We believe in putting people first, which is why we chose to source Fair Trade Certified organic coffee from Colombia and Peru. But what exactly is fair trade, and how does it impact people around the world?

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations. Fair trade is based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others. It’s a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.

Why Choose Fair Trade?

Choosing fair trade is the easiest way to do good every day and invest in a better world for all. Your purchase has the power to support responsible business, empower farmers and workers, send children to school, and protect the environment.

The coffee market has dropped so significantly lately that farmers can hardly cover production costs, let alone their cost of living. This is why the fair trade minimum price is so important. That’s $1.40 per pound + $.30 for organic (like Brandless coffees) + $.20 for the Fair Trade Community Development Fund that directly supports the farming communities. Read on for more stories about the impact of fair trade and see examples of fair trade farms and farmers.

A local Colombian coffee producer hauls coffee sacks. ANEI is a Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative with roughly 600 members from 5 different ethnic groups. The word “anei” means “delicious” in the Arawak indigenous language.

Mairo Geovanni, another member of the ANEI co-op, holds sun-dried coffee beans. Mairo has seen the impact of the fair trade program extend beyond economic help: It’s helped preserve his culture and community. “For us Arawaks, the rules of Fair Trade have been easy to follow since our culture already matches many of themes: no discrimination, democratic methods, solidarity, protection of the environment. So we not only grow economically, but as people and a society as well.”

Faustina Tocto, 51, a Peruvian coffee-grower and member of APROCASSI, shares how APROCASSI has helped stabilize her life: “We sell our coffee at stable prices, and we truly benefit from the benefits, particularly the small credits we all need during the season we don’t harvest.”

Similarly, Jose Santos, 63, president of the local organization that feeds into Peruvian coffee co-op CEPICAFE, shares how fair trade has developed the local economy: “We were a poor hamlet, but now, thanks to our organization, we have electricity, water, and access to more products.”

If all American coffee drinkers made the choice to drink fair trade for just one day, that would mean over 2 million dollars back to farmers who desperately need it. Simply choosing fair trade coffee makes a huge difference in people’s lives.

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