Why Fair Trade?

Fair Trade Certified products support a better life for farming families in the developing world through fair prices, direct trade, community development and environmental stewardship.

Food For Thought uses organic fair trade sugar from Paraguay provided by Wholesome Sweeteners. Until signing Fair Trade agreements, many farmers’ kids in Tebicuary, Paraguay worked in the fields and horses pulled cane carts. Today, the kids are in school and a tractor does all of the pulling.

Fair Trade

As part of their natural evolution as a green business, Food For Thought changed their product line to include Fair Trade sugars in all of their preserves.

“Once Fair Trade organic sugar became available on the market, it was an easy decision for us to make,” said Timothy Young, Food For Thought’s chef and President. “We know our fruit comes from local farmers where we have direct relations, where we can assure the fair treatment of people and planet. However, this has not been the case with sugar as it is comes from overseas. Fair Trade certification is third party certified to assure the small farmer is paid a fair wage in the sometimes cruel and exploitative world of globally traded food commodities.”

Learn More about our Philosophy

First Fair Trade Certified Preserves

TransFair USA, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, is one of nineteen members of Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), and the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. It audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified* products and the international suppliers from whom they source, in order to guarantee that the farmers and farm workers behind Fair Trade Certified goods were paid a fair, above-market price. In addition, annual inspections conducted by FLO ensure that strict socioeconomic development criteria are being met using increased Fair Trade revenues.

Domestic Fair Trade

Domestic Fair TradeThis past winter, with the introduction of our new Fair Trade-Certified preserves in the works, I decided to take a trip to Chiapas, Mexico with my 6 year-old daughter Stella to research the Fair Trade cooperative structure. Experiencing first hand the improvement to quality of life Fair Trade has brought to many small farmers was heartening. I saw little such opportunity in the 80s’ when I worked in Central America. At that time globalization was literally crushing the small farm communities and sowing greater poverty and civil war in these regions. Today, by joining together in a Fair Trade cooperative, many farmers have significantly increased their incomes, have access to health clinics and are sending their kids to school instead of the fields, be they farm fields of battlefields. I came away convinced that the Fair Trade model is a good one for internationally traded commodities.

While we are pleased to be the first Fair Trade Preserve in the country, we are neither stopping there, nor is that where this journey began. Currently there are no such standards for domestically-produced goods. Therefore, I’ve been working for 4 years with The Domestic Fair Trade Working Group, comprised of about 50 companies, labor groups, non-profits and others. Our goal is to build upon the principle established in the international Fair Trade movement to promote standards for domestically-produced goods. Currently Food For Thought and Dr. Bronners Soaps are undergoing pilot projects to test the standards and procedures the group has developed. We’ll meet again this fall at Organic Valley in LaFarge, Wisconsin and prepare to launch this project to the public in 2008. At last year’s meeting the working group elected me the Steering Committee and I’ve been working hard with a very talented group to get this off the ground.

It is a simple and needed concept. If fairness works internationally, why not use that model domestically? And why not improve on it? After all, how could a consumer, that does not know me or Food For Thought personally, know the difference between a global/industrial jar of fruit preserves and a Food For Thought product? At Food For Thought I purchase most of our fruits with a handshake over a dining room table and find myself in a good position to assure that all people involved are treated fairly. With global/industrial food, do they care on that level? Experience would say not, but a Domestic Fair Trade standard would allow those that qualify to step up to the plate and get credit for their efforts on behalf of humankind and the planet.

This is a new frontier and I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Timothy Fitzgerald Young