There are a lot of uncertainties about what “fair trade” is and there’s no conclusive answer. It’s a fairer way of doing trade and the consumers interpret that as they wish. An easy way to know whether what you’re buying is truly “fair trade” or not is to look for the Fair Trade International logo.
Still, Fair Trade certified products are plagued with misconceptions. Hopefully this post can clear some of those up for you…
Misconception #1: Fair Trade is just an economic agreement
Fair Trade is not just an economic agreement but includes a manifold of other standards and regulations required for certification. Certified Fair Trade products guarantee farmers are not exploited receiving better prices and longer-term, meaningful trading relationships. To be a Fairtrade certified product, producers have to meet certain criteria ranging from labour standards to sustainable farming to democratic participation (ie. as a co-operative). Company relationships with producers need to maintain a minimum price and longer contracts regularly audited by an independent certification body (FLO-Cert). A Fairtrade certified product does not solely mean a fair price is given to the producers but encompasses a myriad of other requirements.
Misconception #2: Fair Trade is more expensive
Although the nature of Fair Trade necessitates higher prices for producers, it does not automatically mean the products are unaffordable for consumers. You’d be surprised at how inexpensive and available Fair Trade products can be.
Misconception #3: Fair Trade is difficult to find
Fair Trade products are more readily available than many assume. Regular grocery stores, even Metro, Loblaws, and the Campus Grocery Store, have Fair Trade products in stock. It is true that Fair Trade is not as easily accessible as regularly traded products but with consumer pressure for stores to start selling more Fair Trade this can certainly transform.
Misconception #4: I’m a student and Fair Trade just isn’t possible for me right now
Fair Trade products are available on campus at cheap prices! Oxfam at Queen’s started what is now known as the Fair Trade Co-Operative a few years ago. The sole purpose of the Co-Op is to have Fair Trade products available on-campus for the student body. The Co-Op sells Fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and other treats at whole-sale prices making absolutely no profit. Our products are from Canadian-based companies (Equita, Camino, and Just Us) who work with co-operative farmers from all over the world. The kiosk is run entirely by volunteers out of the Walkhome booth in the lower JDUC from 11:30-4:30 every Monday to Thursday.
No excuses now: it’s fair, it’s cheap, it’s on-campus, and it’s delicious.