If you've been following this blog over the last year, you've seen various critiques of the Fair Trade movement - both its history and the current state of the so-called movement that requires consumers to simply look for a certification seal. To help articulate an authentic version of Fair Trade that is shared by many Equal Exchange colleagues, allies, and partners, we created a comic book that presents the history of Fair Trade with illustrated condensed stories, and heroes and villains. Our hope is that readers will dig deeper, ask questions, and think about the future of small farmers, co-ops, and alternative trade organizations.
Categories: At Equal Exchange
Rink DickinsonSeptember 5, 2017
Fair trade has gone further in the U.K. than perhaps any other country. And now fair trade—as viewed from the perspective of labeled product—is falling off the cliff. Sainsbury, one of the largest supermarkets in the U.K., is slowly abandoning the seal in favor of in-house certification. Tesco, another major supermarket, is abandoning the seal but on a faster timeline. Likewise, Mondelez, one of the largest chocolate companies, is replacing the already weakened, corporate-dominated seal with its own fully controlled, in-house seal.
Equal ExchangeAugust 8, 2017
Twelve years ago this week, Equal Exchange began roasting after building the largest worker-owned coffee roasting operation in the U.S. - and maybe the world. We import green (unroasted) coffee from small farmer co-ops and roast it, making it a direct, cooperative supply chain from farmers to Equal Exchange to you. The beans are roasted on two machines: the G120, which was installed in 2005, and the R1000, which came two years later. In July, we roasted an average of about 22,000 pounds of green coffee per day!
Rink DickinsonAugust 1, 2017
Is there a Fair Trade movement? How significant does a citizen’s social activity have to be to qualify as a participant in a movement? At its peak, Fair Trade social activity may have made it to the movement level in the U.S. and in some other Northern countries. We are past that period now, but can still learn from its history.
Daniel FiresideJuly 25, 2017
Have you ever thought about how food companies are financed? We think about it a lot at Equal Exchange, and we’ve created a capital structure that reflects our cooperative values, and even allows participation from our regular customers and supporters.
Equal Exchange is unusual in lots of ways. You might know that we always pay above-market prices to farmers, buy directly from small-farmer co-operatives around the world, facilitate pre-harvest financing, and provide a ton of other benefits to farmers in the form of direct aid as well as training.
Danielle RobidouxJune 20, 2017
What does democracy mean to you? Do you believe that you are an active citizen in a democracy? How about in your food system? To me, democracy goes beyond showing up for one day to vote for a presidential candidate, sharing a politically charged status on social media, or filling out your e-mail to sign another online petition. Democracy takes effort, commitment, collective responsibility, and passion. It’s not always easy, certainly not simple, but if we as a people are committed to a better world, it cannot begin and end on Election Day.
Ashley SymonsJune 13, 2017
On June 9, we welcomed about 50 Equal Exchange worker-owners, 50 members of our Action Forum, and three coffee producers, together for a day of shared learning at our first-ever People's Food System Summit. With topics ranging from how climate change is impacting small-scale farming communities, to the manipulation of the "Fair Trade" movement, to the consolidation of the food system, it was a day that left many of us wondering, what can we do about it? How can we organize consumers?
Rink DickinsonJune 5, 2017
Over the last year we have had the chance to organize and meet some of our strongest supporters at Action Forum events. In person, from the West Coast to the East Coast, and in virtual forums, we have tried to articulate what we know needs to be built and why we need your participation to succeed. It has been interesting and a challenge. A bunch of you have jumped in with us, and we thank you, while others have expressed confusion around what exactly the Action Forum is and does.
Kate BrattinMay 9, 2017
At the beginning of April, the world’s largest coffee conglomerate, JAB Holdings, bought Panera Bread and its 2,000 cafés across the U.S. You may not know JAB by name, but the Luxembourg-based holding company has been the biggest player in the industry since 2015. This nesting dolls effect – a brand being swallowed up by bigger and bigger companies, distorting what was once familiar – isn’t just a trend in coffee. It’s happening all over in the food industry.
Frankie PondolphApril 25, 2017
As an Organizer for the Action Forum I see myself as a dot connector to help facilitate building an even bigger community with our customers and allies. Despite the system’s power to commodify every aspect of our lives, including our abilities to connect with one another, here we have the opportunity to create something anew.