is an information hub designed to grow the fair trade movement. together, we can create a market that values the people who make the food we eat and the goods we use.

Fair Trade Editorials and Debate

TIP: If a story moves you, use the comment feature for that story to write a response. Dialogue is a key to growing the movement!

In this section, find opinion pieces and critical debate from various news sources around the world.

Fair trade fight brewing in Asheville

- Mountain Xpress, NC

It was the plight of the rose-breasted grosbeak that persuaded Laurey Masterson to switch coffee brands.

Masterson was one of the many downtown Asheville restaurant owners targeted by Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee in the mid-1990s with its dual message of quality and corporate responsibility. The sales reps’ basic pitch revolved around a simple concept pioneered by Counter Culture co-owner Fred Houck: Save the songbirds. (more…)

The friction between the fair-trade and local-first movements

- Charleston City Paper

Food shopping has never been more political than it is now. Beyond the clutter of brands vying for consumers’ attention in any grocery store aisle, deep social movements are at play, and marketers are keen to exploit their ideas to slap an additional 30 cents on a price tag. Eat organic. Buy local. Help children in Africa get access to clean drinking water. Support Lowcountry shrimp. The consumer is more powerful than ever, and at times, also more confused. (more…)

John Oliver from Daily Show Supports Fair Trade

- Comedy Central

John Oliver is a regular reporter on America’s leading comedy news program on Comedy Central. In his stand-up routine, he discusses Fair Trade and the alternatives. Check it out.

Fair trade branded ‘unfair’

- The Guardian, UK

The burgeoning fair trade movement which allows consumers to buy ethically sourced products such as tea, coffee and bananas is little more than “marketing hype” which benefits a minority of farmers in developing countries at the expense of all the others, a leading thinktank claims today.

At the start of the annual Fairtrade Fortnight, a highly critical report by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) warns that it is little more than a marketing exercise intended to maintain fair trade’s predominance in an increasingly competitive marketplace. It says fair trade is “unfair” because if offers only a very small number of farmers a higher, fixed priced for their goods. These higher prices come at the expense of the great majority of farmers, it says, who - unable to qualify for Fairtrade certification - are left even worse off.

A Greener, Sweeter Valentine’s Day

- The Huffington Post

Is Valentine’s Day a beautiful celebration of love, commitment and denial?

Dating back hundreds of years, the origins of Valentine’s Day-and its patron saint-have long been shrouded in mystery. Though little is known about St. Valentine or Valentinus, one thing is certain: Valentine’s Day is not so sweet. (more…)

Cup ‘o java — and controversy


We all know coffee is the good that comes to mind quickest when we talk fair trade.

More and more, though, the survival of the planet-spanning bean industry is being discussed alongside the ramifications of global warming.

Author Dean Cycon has circled the globe looking for quality (read: tasty and fair trade) joe. His wanderings revealed that even high in the Sierra Nevada, coffee farmers are feeling the heat:

“Arhuaco coffee farmer Javier Mestres … had never heard of the global circulation model that tried to measure increments of change in the temperature of the ocean or dynamics of the atmosphere. He was unaware that the IPCC report stated that Colombia would heat up dramatically in the next twenty years and lose 90 percent of its glacial snowcaps by 2050.

Javier saw the results of a warming planet clearly in the premature flowering of his coffee plants on his four-acre family farm in the slopes above Nabusimake, the capital of the Arhuaco nation. He showed me the smaller, weaker berries that dotted the stems and wondered why the outside world wanted to harm these beautiful plants. Why were we changing the world?” (more…)

Why Dean’s Beans got fair trade certified — again


Buying coffee with a conscience can be complicated these days. Sure, you can look for the fair trade certified sticker, awarded by TransFair USA, but a new company seems to come out with their own allegedly “better than fair trade” program every day.

Should you buy one of those coffees instead? Some of these “better than fair trade” programs are actually really hardcore, while others are simple greenwashing tactics — and most are somewhere in between. Deciphering between them, however, is a tough, time consuming job, even when it is actually achievable….

This is the reason that Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans, one of the first activist companies that pioneered fair trade coffee in the US, is going back to fair trade certification. Yes, I said going back, not simply joining. Dean’s Beans, along with Just Coffee and Larry’s Beans, left the fair trade roster back in 2004, alleging that the fair trade certification standards had gotten too watered down. (more…)

Buying Local Doesn’t Hurt the Developing World

- YES! Magazine

Critics of “go local” movements warn that buying local deprives people in developing countries of jobs that could lift them out of poverty. But the global economy isn’t that simple. (more…)

Farmers in developing world hurt by ‘eat local’ philosophy in U.S.

- San Francisco Chronicle

Increasing awareness of climate change has transformed the way Americans think about organic food. While organic consumers used to focus on how food was produced, such as whether pesticides were used, they now are also concerned about how far food has traveled to arrive at their plate. The issue is that greater distances often equate to more energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)

Review: USFT In Food First Fair Trade Report

- United Students for Fair Trade

Food First recently release the report:  Fair to the Last Drop: The Corporate Challenges to Fair Trade Coffee by Eric Holt-Giménez, Ian Bailey, and Devon Sampson. You can find it at:

Fair to the Last Drop gives a great introduction to the history of Fair Trade and then seeks to present the challenge of corporate participation in Fair Trade.

The report looks at the evolution of the Fair Trade movement and the push in the last few years led by Transfair for the mainstreaming of the FT movement. (more…)

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