Why I Shop Fair Trade

By Christine Renner | March 1, 2006 | 0 comments

In December of 2005 I embarked on a nine-day trip to Nicaragua to study fair trade coffee where it is grown.

I already knew a bit about the consumer side of fair trade coffee, having directed a fair trade coffee buying co-op as a student at Colorado College. I knew that fair trade is a system that ensures farmers a fair price for their goods, providing them with a living wage regardless of market prices. Simultaneously, fair trade requires from farmers a commitment to social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

In Nicaragua, I lived in the small cement home of Alfredo Rosales, a Fair Trade Certified™ organic coffee farmer and member of a fair trade cooperative called the Organization of Northern Coffee Cooperatives, or CECOCAFEN. I observed that farmers who have entered the fair trade market do have superior living standards to coffee pickers working on large haciendas. As a member of the cooperative, Señor Rosales could take advantage of the co-op’s technical assistance, access to buyers, and scholarship program for family members. The Rosales family had few material possessions, but they had earned enough money to own their land, and that gave them a sense of independence and identity as coffee farmers. Land ownership also enabled them to grow most of their own food.

I returned from Nicaragua with a renewed commitment to buying Fair Trade Certified™ coffee. I make a point to patronize coffee shops in my community that sell and brew fair trade coffee, and I purchase Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, chocolate, and bananas from grocery stores that carry them. The largest barrier to farmers wishing to enter the fair trade market is a lack of demand for fair trade products on the consumer end. Despite the social and environmental benefits of fair trade production, CECOCAFEN is only able to sell 40 percent of its coffee at the fair trade price. Until fair trade standards become mainstream, it will take individual consumers like me—voting with their everyday purchases—to grow the fair trade market.

Tracker Pixel for Entry

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

About The Author

Christine Renner lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and works for First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC, an investment advisory firm specializing in socially responsible investing.


Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

blog comments powered by Disqus



Greater Good Events

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017
Clark Kerr Campus, UC-Berkeley
Sunday, June 25 - Friday, June 30, 2017 OR Sunday, July 16 - Friday, July 21, 2017

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017

The GGSC’s six-day Summer Institute equips education professionals with prosocial learning strategies, tools and processes that benefit both students and teachers.


Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!


Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.


Greater Good Resources


Book of the Week

Roots of Empathy By Mary Gordon Mary Gordon explains how best to nurture empathy and social emotional literacy in all children—and thereby reduce aggression, antisocial behavior, and bullying.

Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement