What is fair trade?
Fair trade is a trading partnership that is based on respect, dialogue and transparency and seeks greater equity in international trade. Fair trade organizations are supported by consumers and are very active and engaged in outreach and campaigns to bring about changes to conventional international trade regulations and practices.
The goal is to effect change, ensure sustainable development through better conditions, and protect the rights of producers and marginalized workers in the Global South.
How do you know if a product is fair trade?
To find out if a product is produced in accordance with fair trade practices, look for a logo or mark on the product label. Unlike the term “organic,” which is a reserved designation in Canada, the term “fair trade” is not. There are no laws governing its use.
The most common fair trade products are chocolate, coconut products, coffee, bananas, seeds such as quinoa, tea, and more.
There are a number of certification bodies, including Fairtrade International, Fair for Life, the Small Producers Seal (SPP) and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
For example, with Fairtrade certification, farmers and workers have a say at all levels, from how they invest and manage their organizations to how Fairtrade makes decisions globally. Currently, more than 1.7 million producers and workers worldwide are involved in Fairtrade.
A guide is available to learn more about fair trade certification labels. This guide examines the major fair trade labels on the market and explains their warranties, standards and control measures. To help you navigate the different logos, it compares and evaluates the various labels. You can find this guide at www.commerceequitable.org
Fair trade, a step toward sustainable agriculture
By purchasing fair trade products, I’m making a choice to encourage environmentally friendly agriculture. This is a real and concrete way to preserve soil nutrients, waterways and biodiversity. This helps prevent the use of chemicals and reduces exposure to pesticides, which is good for the health of the planet, producers and consumers.
To obtain certification, organizations must meet strict standards that guarantee product quality. Most food products are free of additives and artificial colours, making them naturally delicious.
More than just a logo
Logos give us confidence that fair trade standards are being met. However, there are other initiatives that follow the basic principles of equity. All it takes is a bit of research into the products you buy and consume. After all, fair trade is first and foremost a more humane way of doing business. There are many great Quebec companies that are committed to sustainability, equality and equity for their workers and producers. One example is Zorah, an organic cosmetics and skincare company, which encourages women’s cooperatives worldwide. Most of the raw materials in their products are sourced from women’s cooperatives located mainly in Morocco, but also in Mali and Brazil. Visit Rachelle Béry to find them!