Fair Trade and Organics


#246, October 14, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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Quote of the Week

The Joys of Fair Trade Coffee

"Fair Trade supports some of the most bio-diverse farming systems in the world. When you visit a Fair Trade coffee grower's fields, with the forest canopy overhead and the sound of migratory songbirds in the air, it feels like you're standing in the rainforest."

- Professor Miguel Altieri, Leading expert and author on agroecology



OCA's New Fair World Project

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) launched the Fair World Project (FWP) in September to promote fair trade in commerce, especially in organic production systems in developing countries as well as at home, and to protect the term "fair trade" from dilution and misuse for mere PR purposes. The OCA's new project fills the critical need for a watchdog of misleading fair trade claims, and a cheerleader for dedicated fair trade mission-driven companies. Through FWP, OCA will focus on promoting projects that connect the environmental and health benefits of organic agriculture with the social benefits derived from fair trade.

"As demand from conscious consumers expands the market for fairly traded products we must ensure that claims made by companies hold up to fair trade standards and that marketing and labeling of these products are accurate," says Dana Geffner, Executive Director of the Fair World Project. "With new fair trade certifiers joining the movement, seasoned certifiers enabling questionable opportunistic fair trade claims and "fair-washing" practices more common, the Fair World Project aims to discuss and dissect," adds Geffner.

The FWP intends to encourage critical thinking rather than blind faith regarding fair trade claims and certification schemes. Through publications, events, and targeted campaigns the group articulates and advances the issues involved in fair trade, with the goal of helping consumers, business owners, employees and activists make informed decisions about where and on what to spend their money and resources - to build a better and more just world. The FWP's new website provides a space and forum where consumers can discuss issues within the Fair Trade movement, ask tough questions and share information.

According to Ryan Zinn of the OCA, "OCA's Fair World Project will highlight corporations that are truly implementing fair trade practices, but at the same time hold 'fair-washers' accountable and insist on safeguarding fair trade's integrity. We will put pressure on schools, institutions, and businesses, especially in the organic and natural products sector, to walk their talk and guarantee fair labor practices throughout the supply chain."



Practicing and Certifying Fair Trade: The Challenges

How Do You Know It's Really Fair Trade?

The demand for fairly traded and "sweatfree" food, apparel and body care products has grown exponentially over the past decade. Consumers are demanding products that are ethically produced and support farmers, farm workers and local communities. However, while certified organic foods under the USDA's National Organic Program are regulated under federal law, no such standards exist for Fair Trade. To add to the confusion, literally hundreds of fair trade labels and standards have emerged in recent years, with varying levels of strictness, creating fears of "fair-washed" products. Want to get "behind the label" and learn more about current standards and certifying agencies?

Going Fair Trade: The Challenges of Setting Up Sustainable and Fair Supply Chains - and Getting Them Certified

David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, explains the complex but rewarding process of converting Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps to Fair Trade and Organic.


Action of the Week

Demand Fair Trade From Your State Government!

Each year, institutions, from municipal and state governments to universities, hospitals and school districts, spend billions of dollars purchasing commodities, like coffee, tea and sugar. An estimated $8 billion dollars was spent on institutional coffee purchases alone in 2009. Institutional purchasing can leverage large volumes and significant purchasing power to engage and empower ordinary people to create a just global economy.

Tell your governor that you support Fair Trade and that your state should too!


Please Donate

Support the OCA! Support Organics and Save Our
Fragile Climate!

We depend on your donations to fight against Monsanto and GMOs, to preserve strict organic standards, and to build a global climate justice movement based upon organic food and farming. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today and we'll send you a free "Millions Against Monsanto" bumper sticker so you can help spread the word in your community. Please be sure to put "sticker" in the comments field of your donation.

Please consider joining OCA staff on one or both of our 5-6-day delegations to the Global Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico November 29-December 10. Details follow below.



Climate Justice: Join the OCA at the Historic Global Climate Crisis Summit in Mexico


Please join OCA Director Ronnie Cummins and other OCA staff on one or both of our escorted delegations to the historic teach-ins and rallies for climate justice and organic agriculture at Global Climate Crisis Summit in Cancun, Mexico Nov. 29-Dec. 10.

The OCA delegation, limited to 100 people, will include international experts on organic agriculture and climate justice, including OCA Directors Ronnie Cummins, Alexis Baden-Mayer, and Ryan Zinn; organic farm leader and author, Will Allen; noted blogger and food activist Jill Richardson, and renowned GMO specialist and critic Dr. Michael Hansen.

OCA will be hosting two tours:

  • 6-Day Tour:  November 29th- December 5th, 2010: Early Registration Price $750-$950
  • 5-Day Tour: December 5th-11th, 2010: Early Registration Price $700-$900

It is also possible to stay for the entire 11 day event from November 29-Dec. 10.



Distribute OCA's "For a Better World" Publication Through Your Business or Organization

"For a Better World," OCA's free semi-annual publication on fair trade, is the first of its kind. Featuring articles from a variety of perspectives; from farm workers to 100% committed fair trade brands to deciphering certification schemes and trade organizations, "For a Better World" is an excellent resource to educate consumers.

Go here to request the publication or download a PDF

Follow the Fair World Project on Facebook and Twitter


Video of the Week

Message from Earth: Organic Matters

This short, pointed film examines why it's important to buy organic products. It connects the dots in ways that aren't always obvious to the consumer. The filmmakers took the viewpoint of the Earth, which rather than pleading with or chastising her human inhabitants, tries to reason with them, us. Listen to the conversation.


Little Bytes

Chemical Relations: Monsanto and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Soils and Souls: The Promise of the Land

New Book Exposes the Dirty Truth Behind Coca-Cola: Accusations of Murder and Environmental Destruction

Industry Front Group Gets Taxpayer Money to Convince You to Eat Pesticide-Laden Food

Industrial Agriculture and Human Survival: The Road Beyond 10/10/10 By Ronnie Cummins



[[State]] - Get Involved Locally

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  • Post events in [[State]] on our community calendar.

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