If you have ever seen the term “Fair Trade” on labels, you may have wondered what that meant.
It isn’t about guns and Pomeranians. It is actually a marvelous system of guaranteeing the buyer that the product they are buying is not harming life or the planet. For example: In Papua New Guinea the farmers grow cocoa on land they own. The cocoa was sold to middle-men that in turn sold it to chocolate makers who in turn sold it to us. The farmers profits were miniscule in comparison to the middle man. Logging Companies wanted to buy these lands from the farmers and since the farmers weren’t making much money growing cocoa they were willing to sell. The Nature Conservancy came along and explained to the farmers that the sale would be a short lived income. With Fair Trade certification their profits would be greater and last as long as they were willing to farm sustainably. Keeping their lands to sell Fair Trade cocoa will provide income forever (or until we stop loving chocolate).
The farmers were granted the fair trade certification after a long (three years I think) and arduous process of sustainable growing and marketing education. The middle man was removed so they had to find their own fair trade buyers. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find buyers for this wonderful cocoa; it helps to understand these farmers have limited sources of communication and funds for travel. These photos might help explain.
So to summarize, fair trade and rain-forest alliance are providing decent wages for countries like India, Mexico, Guatemala and Ethiopia. If you complain about immigration then buy fair trade products. The immigrants will go home and grow stuff for us to buy rather than coming here and taking our jobs cleaning hotels and picking tomatoes.