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Making Mankato a ‘fair trade’ town

Mankato Free Press

The potential for the Mankato community to become a designated “fair trade town” will be discussed at a public gathering Tuesday.

Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown Mankato will host the 7 p.m. overview of fair trade practices relating to production and sale of such goods as coffee, tea and chocolate. A video will be shown on fair trade coffee production, given the fact that it’s the second most-traded commodity in the world behind oil.

Fair trade is a social-justice endeavor that seeks greater equity in international trade through securing rights for marginalized workers and producers.

“Anything stamped ‘fair trade’ means the grower has been fairly compensated for his work, and the environment where the coffee is produced is not being denigrated,” Centenary pastor Dean Wolf said.

Fair trade proponent Paul Renshaw of Mankato said a goal of the Tuesday gathering is to stir interest in acquiring a fair trade town designation.

“We’re wondering whether Mankato might be initiated to become more involved in fair trade,” Renshaw said.

He said 300 towns in England are so designated, compared to about six in the United States, where the fair trade town movement is still in its infancy.

To be designated a fair trade town, the majority of a community’s coffee purveyors — churches, coffee shops, supermarkets — must provide beverages certified as fairly traded.

The Tuesday event is under the auspices of the 10-congregation Mankato Area Churches Fair Trade Network.

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