What is fair trade coffee? Why is it an ethical issue?

What is fair trade coffee? Why is it an ethical issue?

Most of us have thought of the journey of coffee beans, right from plucking the bean from the tree to the delicious flavors in our cups. This entire journey of coffee is thanks to the amazing work by coffee farmers. The entire process is quite a lucrative business. But a closer look will reveal complex and unfair practices that work against the farmers. Hence, fair trade coffee came into being as a response to offer a more sustainable and fairer way of trading, especially for coffee farmers.

Similar to the organic certification, a fair trade certification will let you know the origins of the product. All products that have been certified as fair trade share a common history – the farmers and manufacturers who grow or make the product receive a fair price and their environment and communities benefit as well.

Fair trade coffee certification guarantees the following:

Fair price

Farming families receive fair prices for their harvest and premiums that are tailored specifically for community development projects. In some cases, the higher premiums are offered if the coffee has an organic certification as well. Farmers are also eligible for the pre-harvest credit.

Community development

Fair trade workers and farmers are offered fair trade premiums in business development and social projects like quality improvement training, healthcare services, and scholarship programs.

Democratic and transparent organizations

Fair trade coffee farmers and workers decide how to invest in fair trade revenues, which is proof of the democratic process within the business.

Environmental sustainability

Harmful GMOs and chemicals are banned in this certification to protect the health of the coffee farmers and preserve the ecosystem for the future generation. Only environmentally sustainable farming methods are used to protect the surrounding flora and fauna and improve soil fertility.

Fair labor conditions

Coffee farmers under the agreements of the fair trade certification enjoy the freedom of association, fair wages, and safe working conditions. Forced labor of children is strictly prohibited.

Direct trade

Importers purchase the goods from fair trade producer groups directly, which eliminates unwanted middlemen and empower the farmers to learn about the business and the industrial capacity to compete in the international marketplace.

Why is fair trade certification so important today?

Throughout the world, farming families follow generations of traditions to cultivate and grow food and crop products that we relish and enjoy each day. However, most of these families, especially in developing nations, do not receive a fair price for their crops.

These isolated communities in rural areas lack access to the direct market and often end up selling their premium crops at prices well below the production cost to local middlemen who feign global prices. In turn, this creates a cycle of debt forces the farmers to abandon their land and dispose of their years of agricultural heritage. This also destroys the cultural and social fabric of these communities. When the farming world suffers, the whole world suffers – large scale farming that compromises the environment, inferior-quality products, and force immigration.

Hence, you should always opt for fair trade coffee, which has a positive impact on small-scale farmers. If you purchase a fair trade coffee product, this means that you are helping those farmers improve their lifestyles, their children’s lives, and the lives of their communities.

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  • Healthy Coffee Rule #1) Always Go Organic. Why? Because conventional coffee is one of the most heavily treated crops. One of the many health risks with these chemicals is that they can act as "xenoestrogens" in your body disrupting hormone balance for both men and women.
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