AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Fair Trade (and CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY) DATE: 11/10/2009 12:26:00 AM ----- BODY:

If life were fair, everything would cost more.

Regularly, books and movies report on the commercial agricultural industry’s dependence on corn, and government subsidies are revealed to keep food prices artificially low. While we still pay for the high cost of food, we do so in taxes, and not at the supermarket.

Small-scale farmers, who do not receive these subsidies, must charge more for their food to earn even a modest wage. While sustainable farming can be less expensive in the long-run, it’s a costly path. I try to support the local farmers, even if it costs more, because I know that I’m helping to preserve our food-systems and keep more money in my community.

In second- and third- world countries, from where we get most of our coffee and chocolate, farmers make even less. The path from field to table is long, and provides little (if any) support for the farmer. They make pennies a day – most of the profits go to the middlemen in this supply chain.

Equal Exchange, a national leader in fair-trade, created a new path for small farmers to get their products to market. They do this by partnering with small-scale farmer coops. Through this process, we can be closer to the source of our food and the farmers see a greater portion of the profits – enabling them to better support their own community.

Fair Trade includes:
• Direct purchasing from those who are poorly served by conventional markets, specifically small farmers and their co-operatives.
• Agreed upon commodity floor prices that provide for a dignified livelihood.
• A promise by importers to make affordable credit available to the farmer co-operatives.
• A worldwide network of non-profit certifying organizations.

Equal Exchange chocolates continue to win awards for its quality and taste. The Panama bar was a finalist in the New York City Chocolate Show in October. And one of their Peruvian cocoa producer partners won a quality competition!

And now for the giveaway… 
The Deadline has passed.  Chocolate Winners:  Judit U-M and Grace, Congratulations! You were randomly selected to win the chocolate sampler boxes from Equal Exchange.  Please email your mailing address to julia [at] growcookeat [dot] com.  And thanks to all for your great comments and supporting fair trade!

Just in time for your holiday baking, Equal Exchange wants you to taste the difference. They are offering a gift box of either chocolate sampler box (6 different 3.5 oz. bars) or sweet and spicy chocolate sampler to 2 lucky readers of Grow. Cook. Eat.

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment here telling us something you can do to support fair trade. Also, please include your email address, so that we can be in touch with you if you win. While anyone can support fair trade, you must be a US or Canadian resident to win this drawing. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 18th.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T. Carter DATE:11/10/2009 06:16:00 AM Buying at farmers markets and from on-farm stands ... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Erin @ Big Girl Eats DATE:11/10/2009 07:20:00 AM I just found your blog through the Perfect Pantry. Great posts! I love Equal Exchange as well.

I try to purchase fair trade and organic coffees so that I'm supporting small farms and roasters. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Calvins Mom DATE:11/10/2009 07:44:00 AM For all Chocolate does to support me and my moods, the least I can do is to purchase it, and coffee, fair trade. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Eric DATE:11/10/2009 09:04:00 AM Ask your favorite coffee shop and/or breakfast joint to carry fair-trade coffee and tea! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger SCF DATE:11/10/2009 10:40:00 AM i love equal exchange! to support fair trade i try to buy fair trade items when i can (for example, at ten thousand villages, a great store! and they sell equal exchange!) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Laura DATE:11/10/2009 10:24:00 PM I try to shop as locally as I can and support companies that use sustainable and fair trade practicess ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Elaine DATE:11/11/2009 02:53:00 AM I force myself to eat Equal Exchange chocolate whenever I can. I also live in a small Victorian town on the Puget Sound where nearby there are many local farms that offer both vegetable and meat CSAs, as well as produce cheeses from goat and sheep milk. I shop at our local farmers' market when it is open and am a member of the local Food Co-op. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Judit U-M DATE:11/11/2009 12:21:00 PM I have a share of a local, certified organic CSA farm, purchase other groceries at a family owned and operated small store that carries fair trade coffee and chocolates (and has the best selection in town). Also, since I work a lot in Peru, I eat fresh cocoa sold at the farmers' markets there, can't get much closer to the source than that. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:11/11/2009 09:11:00 PM I'd like to know about Equal Exchange. I know that the Fair Trade organization that certifies coffee has so much overhead and is so wasteful that they significantly increase the price of the products with only a tiny fraction of that going to the poor farmers.

There's got to be a more efficient way to do fair trade.

A note to American farmers: We already have enough quantity of food in this country. If you want to increase your business, the only way is to go after quality. If it costs more to grow, but you can charge more for it, then it's less food but more total business.

A recent study showed that cows that are penned up produce twice as much milk as cows let out to pasture, but since they cost 3 times as much to keep, they are less profitable. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Rodney North DATE:11/12/2009 12:44:00 PM Hi, This is Rodney, one of the worker-owners of Equal Exchange.

First, thank you all for the kind words about our small enterprise, about our chocolate, and about Fair Trade.

Second, for “Anonymous”: The fees we pay for Fair Trade certification amount to less than 1% of our costs, and therefore represent much less than 1% of the final retail price. Conversely, the higher prices we pay for all the Fair Trade coffee, cocoa, sugar, etc we import does indeed represent a significant boost to the income of the farmers and of the farmers’ co-ops. And it all goes either to the farmers themselves or to their co-operative (owned and governed by the farmers)

Something that most people don’t realize is that farmer co-operatives are a key piece of the Fair Trade picture. A single small farmer with, say, 5 acres of coffee or bananas in Central America could never become an exporter, or even get organic certified by themselves. Conversely there’s no way Equal Exchange could coordinate trade with thousands of individual farmers.

Farmer co-ops are the solution to both problems + they enable the farmers to collectively take on more of the steps of the value chain, and to get involved in the more profitable activities, like processing and exporting. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ DATE:11/12/2009 07:46:00 PM I put up a link to your giveaway on my giveaway post. I look for companies that use fair-trade ingredients like chocolate to make their products. It will usually say so on the label. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger annalene DATE:11/12/2009 11:18:00 PM To support fair trade buy fair trade products. I buy fair trade chocolates for myself and for gifts. I have never tried Equal Exchange chocolate before but I would love to give them a try. Sounds like a great gift for the holidays.

email address is visible in blogger profile ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:11/13/2009 12:52:00 AM picking at local farms and buying at farmers markets .... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:11/13/2009 03:58:00 PM i think mutual on both sides should know their rights! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Teresa DATE:11/14/2009 09:08:00 AM We have a year-round CSA from Enterprise Farm, which we talk up by inviting people over to share our cooking and by blogging about!

(teresa [underscore] elsey [at] fastmail [dot] fm) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Grace DATE:11/15/2009 12:11:00 PM good for you for bringing attention to the importance of fair trade! i only buy fair trade coffee, and i've started going that way for chocolate too. whether i deserve to or not, i always feel proud when i make those purchases. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:OpenID squirrelbread DATE:11/15/2009 05:22:00 PM One way I support fair trade is via coffee. Only those with the stamp make it into my cup! And that goes for coffee from cafes as well. Great question.


*Heather* ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Piper DATE:11/17/2009 04:22:00 PM In addition to buying things from a farmer's market, I've been going around to different organizations at my college to try and get them to switch their T-shirt supplier to be Fair Trade! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous inourhandsisplacedapower DATE:11/17/2009 09:31:00 PM My union boycotts Coca-Cola and WalMarth ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger J DATE:11/18/2009 10:23:00 AM Is it too late? I'm buying fair trade coffee instead of the regular stuff! ----- --------