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Organic Consumers Association

Media, PA is first fair trade town in U.S.

MEDIA -- ItÂ’s official. Not only is this tiny borough, the county seat, known as "EverybodyÂ’s Home Town," it became the "First Fair Trade Town in the U.S." as shoppers and strollers enjoyed MediaÂ’s Second Saturday of the Month event.

Councilwoman Monica Simpson formally announced the designation to a crowd of more than 100 people waiting to enjoy the Media Chamber Chorale at the Plum Street Mall.

It came on the heels of a resolution passed June 15 by borough council -- one of five criteria established by the British and European Fair Trade Movements.

To qualify, a certain percentage of retailers and institutions must sell and use fair trade products and offer ongoing promotion of fair trade.

Drew Arata, owner of Earth and State on State Street, said, "Media is a microcosm for the entire United States. My belief is that you wonÂ’t be able to avoid Fair Trade in the future and we might as well start trying to define what it means in the United States."

The fair trade products that he sells at his store are European certified because the U.S. doesnÂ’t have certification yet for crafts, he said. Certified products include coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate bars, Basmati rice, white and brown sugar and occasionally fruits.

TransFair USA (www.transfairusa.org) certifies fair trade products in the U.S. which have the "Fair Trade Certified" seal.

"As a business owner, it means that we know where our products are coming from, we know that they are not being made under slave labor," Arata said. "Child labor is forbidden in it, children go to school..hereÂ’s less ecological impact."

Hal Taussig, of Upper Providence, founder/director of the Idyll Development Foundation, which assists the poor in getting jobs, spearheaded the movement in conjunction with the Media Business Authority, headed by executive director Zubair Khan.

"It benefits (consumers) by making a different kind of consumer -- consumers who are aware that they can do good by what they purchase, they donÂ’t just buy something for themselves," Taussig said.

"They can make it a better world by buying fair trade," he said.

ThereÂ’s an international committee that decides what minimum wage should be paid to producers of these products, "almost all of them living in the developing world and dreadfully underpaid," Taussig said.

He said Media’s image "generally was conducive to saying, ‘Hey, we care about building a better world."

"What makes us actually first is that we are the first municipality, city, town, to actually comply with all five requirements," Simpson said.

"Our merchants and our consumers and our residents think globally and act locally," she said. "And that allows us to make educated buying decisions where we know that even though itÂ’s a small drop in the bucket in the big, big picture, weÂ’re doing our part to help raise awareness and to also provide support to growers and retailers that go by the fair trade rules and regulations."

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