ftrn.org 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.

Recommended Books



Fair Trade Resource Network closed down in May 2014. The website at FTRN.org, and its contents, were left available to the public through Fall 2014. At that time, Fair Trade Federation takes ownership and control of the website and its contents.

Fair Trade Titles We Recommend

1. Where to Start ~ Fair Trade Essentials

An Overview of Fair Trade in North America

FREE PDF file of booklet

By FTRN, published Nov 2011 ~ 34 pg. booklet ~ High school & above ~25 FREE copies for WFTD events, $2 each for additional copies. Hard and soft copy includes password to edit and copy the Power Point presentation of booklet highlights!

FTRN says: “A quick read offering a comprehensive overview of the North American Fair Trade movement. The definitive booklet on Fair Trade’s various models, success stories, major names, facts and figures, brief history and key challenges and opportunities.”

Summary/review: This publication will help readers:

  • Understand how Fair Trade relationships in over 60 developing countries enhance the quality of life of producers and their communities.
  • Interact with a global community taking action to ease inequities wrought by traditional trade structures.
  • Navigate the complicated world of organizations, labels and definitions of Fair Trade.

This booklet was supported by the following sponsors:

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps ~ Once Again Nut Butter ~ Fair for Life ~ Fair World Project ~ Ganesh Himal ~ HandCrafting Justice ~ Ten Thousand Villages USA ~ Theo Chocolate

Free PDF file of booklet

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Fair Trade: A Human Journey

By Eric St-Pierre, 2010 ~ 240 pg. book (10 x 13 inches, 4 lbs. hardcover) ~ high school level & above ~ $49.95

FTRN says: “Simply the best photo book available on Fair Trade and its producers! Through 350 stunning and highly illustrative photos combined with very well-researched narratives, St-Pierre presents an inclusive, broad picture of Fair Trade. This complete book also includes a brief history of Fair Trade, key statistics in global and Fair Trade, as well as discussions of certifications, labels, multinational corporations, producer networks and more. ”

Summary/review: This journey into the lives of artisans, peasants and workers from 15 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America traverses 14 Fair Trade sectors – from the most common, such as handicrafts, coffee and cocoa, to the lesser known, such as shea butter, quinoa and guarana. The author introduces us to producers, describes the processing chain for each product, and outlines the advantages and challenges of Fair Trade.

Fair Trade and How It Works

By Jacqueline DeCarlo, 2011 ~ 166 pg. book ~ High school & above ~ $25.95

FTRN says: “This book offers a solid overview of all things Fair Trade – from its history to key players and challenges. ”

Summary/review: The book reveals why Fair Trade means more than just bananas, coffee, and chocolate. Author and activist Jacqueline DeCarlo explains the principles behind Fair Trade and its development into a powerful economic tool. Packed with inspiring ways to make a difference, this book will encourage readers of all backgrounds to help end poverty, environmental destruction, and human exploitation.

Buy it from Rosen Publishing

2. Key Reads for Taking Action in Fair Trade

50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade

50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade

By Miles Litvinoff & John Madeley ~ 256 pg. book ~ High school & above ~ $15.95

FTRN says: “From economics to activism, the 50 reasons run the gamut. Our favorite chapter? ‘Prove the free trade eggheads wrong’.”

Summary/review: Fair trade is a growing global movement, with a widening range of fair trade goods now available in stores. This book provides fifty reasons why buying fair trade delivers a host of benefits to people and the planet. It’s an inspiring account of how every consumer can play a part in improving and even saving lives – making global trade work better for poor people.

Buy it from Powell’s Independent Bookstore

A Guide for Retailers

A Guide for Retailers: Creating a Successful Fair Trade Business

By Kimberly Grimes ~ 42 pg. booklet ~ For those starting FT businesses ~ $4.95

FTRN says: “Based on personal experiences from more than 75 diverse shops around North America, this is a must-read for anyone starting a Fair Trade business.”

Summary/review: Filled with practical, proven advice from a variety of Fair Trade entrepreneurs, the Guide for Retailers is will help any new Fair Trade business owner dedicate his/her business aspirations in the service of Fair Trade principles. It provides step-by-step guidance for necessary preparations, building a successful foundation, and enjoying the benefits of a well-run Fair Trade business.

3. A Deeper Understanding of Fair Trade

Fair Trade, Sustainability and Social Change

By Ian Hudson, Mark Hudson and Mara Fridell, 2013 ~ 248 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $85 (hardcover)

FTRN says: “This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the strategic direction, challenges and opportunities of Fair Trade and its social movement. Only once every 5-10 years does such a thoughtful book come out about the big picture and major issues in Fair Trade. Although a bit academic at times for the lay reader, the authors present in accessible style critical topics like the pros & cons of various ways actors message about Fair Trade, how Fair Trade compares to other sustainability certifications, and tensions arising as Fair Trade engages large corporations.”

Summary/review: This academic analysis focuses on a history of Fair Trade and its movement, a synthesis of recent research on whether Fair Trade is making a difference to producers, ways the movement tries to mobilize support through different messages, and comparing Fair Trade’s potential path to its actual one. The book explores these topics mainly through Fair Trade certified coffee and commodity fetishism.

Buy it from Palgrave Macmillan

The History of Authentic Fair Trade

Written by Phyllis Robinson and Nicholas Reid, Illustration and Graphic Design by Vendela Larsson, 2013 ~ 48 pg. comic book ~ high school level & above

FTRN says: “This educational work of art presents an engaging story of the history of Fair Trade from the perspective of interests focused on fully committed Fair Trade, small farmers and democratic producer coops. While some Fair Trade interests will disagree with some of the opinions in, and tone of, the story, the comic covers many key events and insightful global contexts under which Fair Trade has evolved since its beginnings.

Summary/review: “This comic book presents a version of Fair Trade that is shared by many Equal Exchange colleagues, allies, and partners. With heroes and villains, and condensed stories, the comic challenges readers to dig deeper, ask questions, and ultimately make a conscious decision about where she stands in relation to small farmers, co-operatives, and democratic movements, as well as corporations, certifying agencies, and alternative trade organizations. Also illuminates the success stories of 5 specific producer coops.”

Download the book or order print copies from Equal Exchange

Fair Trade from the Ground Up: New Markets for Social Justice

By April Linton, 2012 ~ 200 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $24.95

FTRN says: “This book makes some important, fresh contributions to assessing the impacts of Fair Trade for producers, and to learning from advocacy efforts. While academics have done lots of case studies about Fair Trade, very few have begun synthesizing the results of this scattered evidence and methodologies the way Ms. Linton does. Similarly, the book’s analysis of a Fair Trade University initiative is new and insightful.”

Summary/review: This book documents achievements at both the producer and the consumer ends of commodity chains and assesses prospects for future growth. Linton draws from Guatemalan coffee farmers, student activists on U.S. college campuses, studies by social scientists and new case studies to provide a qualitative and quantitative overview of achievements of the Fair Trade movement.

Buy it from University of Washington Press

Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets

by Sarah Lyon, 2010 ~ 280 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $32.50 paperback

FTRN says: “With few in-depth analyses of Fair Trade yet published, this book is a welcome addition. The author, drawing from several years of field work in a well-established FLO-certified coop, offers a seemingly balanced analysis of the effects of Fair Trade on Mayan coffee farmers in Guatemala. Besides the usual factors of farmer income and access to credit, the author also studies collaboration in the coop and its organizational capacity, contradictions with certification systems, low producer power in Fair Trade, and producer/consumer relationships portrayed by intermediaries and advertising quite differently from reality.”

Summary/review: “This ethnographic analysis of fair-trade coffee focuses on La Voz Que Clama en el Desierto-a cooperative in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala-and its relationships with coffee roasters, importers, and certifiers in the United States. The author concludes that while fair trade does benefit small coffee-farming communities, it is more flawed than advocates and scholars have acknowledged. However, fair trade can be understood and modified to be more equitable.

Buy the book from University Press of Colorado

Fair Trade and Social Justice

Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

Edited by Sarah Lyon and Mark Moberg, 2010 ~ 320 pg. book ~ university level & above ~ $25

FTRN says: “This book uses ethnographic studies to evaluate important aspects of Fair Trade. Key content includes the in-depth case studies of what Fair Trade is, or is not, achieving in various producer communities. This central question has lacked comprehensive evidence for years, so the findings reported by the 11 contributors are valuable results for evaluating Fair Trade.”

Summary/review: The academic studies drawn on in this book examine farmers of Indian and Kenyan tea, Costa Rican coffee, eastern Caribbean bananas, handcrafts, and global cut flowers. The various authors also cover women’s issues, coffee labels, international development, cultural issues in identifying indigenous crafts, producer v. consumer perceptions of Fair Trade, marketing and more.

Buy it from NYU Press

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The Last Ten Years: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature on the Impact of Fairtrade

Commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation and conducted by Natural Resources Institute, September 2009 ~ 48 pg. report ~ university level & above ~ free softcopy

FTRN says: “This report is one of the very few resources that systematically analyzes the impacts of any Fair Trade system for producers. After noting that evidence is relatively scarce for evaluating the impacts of Fairtrade Labelling Organization’s (FLO’s) Fair Trade system, the study finds mixed results on economic, environmental and social goals.”

Summary/review: The study draws from 23 reports covering 33 case studies, mostly about coffee producers in Latin America, in reviewing all literature published by academics or development agencies on the local impacts of FLO’s Fairtrade system.

Download the report from FLO

The Fair Trade Revolution

Edited by John Bowes, 2011 ~ 257 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $20

FTRN says: “Several pioneers of the UK Fairtrade movement contribute chapters on what Fairtrade certification has done for, and gotten from, producers and consumers, while a Nicaraguan coffee farmer and U.S. pioneer add non-UK perspectives. However, the most urgent chapters explore the future: whether reformers and transformers can forge a collaborative movement; whether Fairtrade can advance food security and address climate change; how Fairtrade can scale up but not compromise its values; how retailers, corporations and pioneers can again play different roles in strengthening Fairtrade.”

Summary/review: 14 authors contribute chapters on Fairtrade certification (by FLO), currently the dominant third-party recognition of Fair Trade: its history, its impacts, stories of some key UK companies and producer organizations, evolution of Fair Trade Towns, and the challenges and opportunities for the broader movement.

Buy the book from Macmillan

Brewing Justice

Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival

By Daniel Jaffe, 2007 ~ 331 pg. book ~ Public & academic use.
FTRN says: “Brewing Justice is very readable for a range of audiences – members of the public and academics. The clear thinking and strong research offer great insights into Fair Trade.”

Summary/review: Published by the University of California Press, this book addresses the essential question: Is Fair Trade working? This vivid and detailed study of coffee farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico offers the first thorough investigation of the social, economic and environmental benefits of Fair Trade. This clearly-written book offers a nuanced analysis of the effects of fair trade on everyday life, and at the same time paints a clear picture of the complex dynamics of the fair trade and global markets. Brewing Justice also explores the changing politics of the international fair trade movements and provides recommendations for improvements.

Buy it from Powell’s Independent Bookstore

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Artisans and Fair Trade: Crafting Development

By Mary A. Littrell and Marsha A. Dickson, 2010 ~ 230 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $24.95.

FTRN says: “Despite the Fair Trade movement’s roots in artisan and craft work, there has been surprisingly little empirical study evaluating the impact of Fair Trade on artisans. Littrell and Dickson produce an in-depth socio-economic audit of one pioneering Fair Trade organization, MarketPlace: Handwork of India. The book provides a quantitatively and qualitatively illuminating study of Fair Trade’s impacts and a methodology for further research.”

Summary/review: The authors draw from their eight years of studies of the hundreds of artisans’ lives, emphasizing the impacts that collaborative production and direct market access have on the people making clothing and home accessories. The authors assess changes in the artisans’ skills, economic livelihood, and psychological and social well-being.

Buy it from Kumarian Press

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Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee

By Dean Cycon, 2007 ~ 240 pg. book ~ high school level & above ~ $19.95

FTRN says: “One of the pioneers of Fair Trade in the U.S., Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans, tells loads of travel stories that translate the struggles, achievements and hopes of people in coffeelands worldwide. In irreverent and accessible style, Dean connects anecdotes with the big picture as he tries to partner with Fair Trade farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico/El Salvador, Nicaragua, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.”

Summary/review: In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century-globalization, immigration, women’s rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination-are played out in villages and remote areas around the world. This book offers a lively mix of Fair Trade business, adventure travel, and cultural anthropology.

Buy the book from Chelsea Green

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Fair Trade: Using Our Purchasing Power for Justice and Hope – A Bible Study

By Rev. Judy Hoffhine and PC (USA) Mission Co-worker Ruth Farrell in 2008 ~ 40 pg. booklet ~ High school & above ~ $5.00

FTRN says: “This book provides a facilitated discussion of Fair Trade for anyone interested in Fair Trade’s connections to Biblical principles. Good for both individual contemplation, or for group study.”

Summary/review: The book walks the reader through the principles of Fair Trade by means of personal narration, Bible passages, questions for reader to reflect upon, and challenges to engage the reader in learning about Fair Trade. Authors explore the convergence of its nine basic Key Principles with the Judeo-Christian teachings of justice. Also provides a resource list for further study.

Buy it from Partners for Just Trade

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Changing Big Business: The Globalization of the Fair Trade Movement

By Anna Hutchens, 2009 ~ 256 pg. book ~ graduate level & above ~ $110

FTRN says: “This book provides a theoretical understanding of the global politics of Fair Trade, and the power dynamics within the movement. Good for sociology and political science academics. Interesting sections cover the history of Fair Trade, models of Fair Trade pioneers, and the evolving structure of the Fairtrade Labeling Organization and the World Fair Trade Organization.”

Summary/review: Hutchens develops several new approaches to understanding power, governance and social change across the broad interdisciplinary fields of development, economics and politics. Emphasizing Fair Trade’s entrepreneurs, this book investigates the creation of innovative commercial Fair Trade business models that are often neglected in research. The book has in-depth sections on brands and labels, European activities, and the power of networks.

Buy it on Amazon.com

4. Fair Trade for the Whole Family


2014 Fair Trade wall calendar – the only one in N. America

2014 Fair Trade Calendar

By FTRN ~ 26 pg. calendar ~ for adults & children.

Calendar Quantity Regular price per copy
1 copy $12.95
2 to 10 $7.50
11 to 49 $7.00
50 to 99 $6.50
100+ $6.00

FTRN says: “The 2014 Fair Trade Calendar is the only one available in N. America. In its 5th year, the full color 13.5″ x 9.5″ calendar is stunning.”

Summary/review: This publication will help readers:

  • Enjoy winning photos of Fair Trade producers from the Fair Trade Photo Contest, voted on by supporters of the Fair Trade movement.
  • find Fair Trade vendors in a Where to Buy Fair Trade section listing Fair Trade businesses throughout the U.S, along with Fair Trade fun facts and more!
  • raise awareness about Fair Trade and generate funds for FTRN as well as calendar resellers.

This unique calendar is made possible by the following sponsors:

Ben & Jerry’s | Consolidated Printing | Fair Trade USA | Fair for Life Fairtrade Certified | Fairtrade America | Frontier Natural Products Co-op | Indigenous Designs Fair Trade clothing | Minga Fair Trade Imports | Once Again Nut Butter | One World Flowers | Ten Thousand Villages USA | Traditional Medicinals

Think Fair Trade First!

By Ingrid Hess, published February 2010 ~ Ages 3-8 ~ 40 color pages 8×9 inches, softcover book ~ 25 FREE copies for WFTD events, $2 each for additional copies.

FTRN says: “A fun educational read and a joy to look at, this book is a rare and engaging Fair Trade resource for kids aged 3-8. Younger children can search for the ladybug on each spread, and listen to or read the fictional story. Older children can also read the nonfiction sections on each spread.”

Summary/review: Stella & Henry are on a mission to find the perfect gift. With help from Aunt Mabel, the two children discover the world of Fair Trade and learn how shopping wisely can improve people’s lives.

“Think Fair Trade First!” explains Fair Trade’s comprehensive approach to business and development with fun, educational content for kids and grown-ups alike. A great find for teachers to explain how their students can make the world a better place.
~ Carmen K. Iezzi, Executive Director, Fair Trade Federation

Download free Scavenger Hunt guide to use with this book.

A Journey In the Amazon

By Marco Hernandez & Kimberly Grimes ~ ages 10 & up, CD for all ages ~ Fundraiser for the Amazon Nut Project ~ Retail Prices: CD set $22 / Book $15 / Book & CD set together $35 plus shipping ~ Wholesale Prices (3 or more copies): CD set $15 / Book $7.50 plus shipping

FTRN says: “A wonderful read and a joy to the ear, this CD set and book supports Amazonian farmers who strive to provide for their families while preserving the ecological balance of the rainforest.”

Summary/review: Features the smooth rhythms of Bossa Nova of the Brazilian coast to the ancient pipes and strings of the high Amazon jungle, plus a CD with sounds of jungle animals recorded at night. The wonderful “children’s” book of the same name teaches us all, young and old, about the rainforest, its riches and its needs. Traveling down the Amazon is a journey we all need to take, in words if not in canoes, to understand the rich diversity of our planet and why it is at risk.

A Cafecito Story

A Cafecito Story

By Julia Alvarez ~ 69 pg. book (illustr.) ~ Adults & children ~ avail in Eng & Spa. ~ $10

FTRN says: “Don’t be fooled by the length of this book. Its few pages contain a wealth of information about Fair Trade and what happens when a few people decide to make a positive difference in others’ lives. This is a great, short intro to Fair Trade for people of all ages.”

Summary/review: Available in Spanish and English language versions, A Cafecito Story is an eco-fable by best-selling author, Julia Alvarez with woodcuts by Belkis Ramí-rez. Based on Alvarez’s experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, it shows how a return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture.

Buy it from Global Exchange

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Zapizapu Crosses the Sea

By Diane Abad Vergara, 2007; Illustrated by Ria van Rooyen ~ 16 pg. book ~ Ages 4 – 8 ~ $7.31

FTRN says: “A great Fair Trade read for the whole family, accessible and easy to understand.”

Summary/review: Let’s take a journey with our children across the big, wide, deep blue sea! We will discover the delicious zapizapu and learn about the people that grow it. Then, as we follow zapizapu’s journey as it crosses the sea we will learn what it means to others when we pay a fair price for the things we enjoy. Zapizapu Crosses the Sea is a fascinating children’s book. The script and colorful illustrations work together to simplify the concept of international trade and personify those involved around the world from grower to consumer. In its rawness we discover that the simple yet important concept of ‘playing fair’ is important for children and grown-ups alike.

Buy it from Trafford Publishing