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W’ford market expands its sources

WATERFORD – Visitors to the Waterford Harbor Farmers Market Sunday were greeted by the addition of a new Ballston Spa vendor in honor of the market’s focus on the many benefits of fair trade.
Mango Tree Imports at 2124 Route 50 in Ballston Spa was represented by the shop’s owner, Kim Anderson, who was on hand to sell some of her store’s wares, as well as answer any questions about the Fair Trade Federation that people had.
“Fair trade is basically an attempt at poverty alleviation in the developing world through sustainable business practices rather than just through charity,” said Anderson, who noted that her shop was one of roughly 300 nationwide members of the Fair Trade Federation.
Anderson explained that her shop offers items from over 55 countries in the developing world and that she and her husband, who also teach language classes for adults and children in their Las Mariposas language center, try to work closely with some of the artisans of work that they sell in order to learn exactly what kinds of products they are getting and where they are coming from.
“In the big picture it’s about educating consumers to make wise buying choices and realize that every purchase affects someone on the other end of the deal,” said Anderson. “If you purchase a product from a fair trade retailer, it affects someone in a good way, but those that are not could have alternative effects on the living conditions of the workers used to produce those products.”
Anderson also noted that the idea that Fair Trade Federation products are more expensive is often a misconception, with the exception of certified, organic coffees, since the process cuts out all of the middle men who would typically require a portion of the profit from sold items.
Other aspects of fair trade include providing fair wages, safe workplaces, ensuring environmental sustainability, not supporting child labor, economic transparency, and gender equity.
With the weekly event now its second month, market manager Mary Stalker said that the idea of fair trade seemed to work well with a farmers market.
“We can’t really find coffee or tea grown locally in this area, so this is a good way to support other small, family farms in other parts of the world,” said Stalker. “Fair trade supports the same ideas and values of our local farmers markets so I think it works well to bring the two together.”
Bethlehem resident Paul Tick had two small booths set up at the farmers market to promote show case some of the work his son, Daniel, has been doing to document the poor living and working conditions of free trade zones in Mexico, operated by major retail companies without the benefits of fair trade, as well as information and promotional materials for those interested in signing up to receive wind energy from National Grid.
“New York has the capacity to handle roughly 20 percent of its electricity needs from wind power but is currently only using about 1 percent,” said Tick, who noted that his family pays about $4 more per month for wind energy power. “For only a couple of pennies per day more, New Yorkers can enjoy safe, clean energy from local wind turbines.”

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