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Give Thanks and Pay It Forward with Fair Trade

Fair trade cinnamon producers in Yen Bai Province, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Frontier Co‑op.

This Thanksgiving, consider paying your gratitude forward. The holiday meal is the perfect time to consider swapping out a few items on your shopping list for fair trade certified products. You get to enjoy delicious food while supporting life changing projects for the farmers who produced it.

Fair trade standards ensure that farmers and workers are paid a fair and consistent price for their crops and labor in markets that can be unstable or are poorly regulated. The standards also guarantee appropriate working conditions, prohibit child labor and protect worker safety on the job. In addition, a percentage of a fair trade product’s sales go into a community account. Workers vote on how to spend the money, usually opting to fund community development projects like building schools or clinics in their communities.

It might seem like a small thing to buy fair trade certified sugar instead of sugar that isn’t certified, but every purchase adds up. If everyone swapped out just one item at Thanksgiving, the single largest food holiday of the year, imagine the impact we could have! Just like gratitude is a small thing that yields big rewards in our lives, fair trade is a simple idea with profound results. Food co-ops are all about empowering people to make a difference in the world with their food choices, that’s why you’ll find a great selection of fair trade items at your co-op.

Many fair trade certified products naturally lend themselves to a Thanksgiving menu. Look for fair trade certified staples like olive oil, sugar, molasses, honey, cinnamon and vegetable shortening as well as fair trade coffee, tea and wine, where available. Choose fair trade pecans to make this tasty cranberry pecan skillet stuffing and look for fair trade almonds for this traditional green beans amandine.

For those who like to bring whole grains to the holiday table, make fair trade quinoa the star of this delicious quinoa, squash and cheddar casserole or use fair trade rice to boost this savory pilaf. If you plan for leftover turkey, buy a little fair trade wild rice to make this classic wild rice turkey soup extra nice.

Depending on your crowd, fair trade products can make for good dinner conversation, as well. Most fair trade products have an engaging story attached that your dinner guests may also appreciate. Fair trade certification makes it easy for us to make a difference in the world, now that’s something to celebrate!