I realized the other day that I mention fair trade products frequently on this blog, but I’ve never talked specifically about what fair trade is. In the United States, it is a certification that is given by a third party, TransFair USA, that indicates that the product you are buying has been produced under fair conditions to the workers.

What are the conditions for fair trade certification?

In order to be certified fair trade:

  • A fair price must have been paid for the product from its producer
  • Fair wages must be paid to the workers (fair wage meaning something that a family in that area can live on)
  • Working conditions must be safe
  • Child labor is strictly prohibited
  • Money made from the products get reinvested back in the community
  • Farmers must use sustainable farming
  • No harmful chemicals and pesticides can be used in the farming (this protects both the earth and the workers)
What products can be certified fair trade?

In the U.S., TransFair certifies the following products:

  • Coffee
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sugar
  • Rice
  • Vanilla
  • Flowers
  • Honey
Coffee and cocoa/chocolates are the two most common products you will find on your stores shelf with the fair trade certification, and they usually are comparable in price to other gourmet coffees (think Starbucks not Maxwell House) or chocolates (think Lindt not Hersheys). The other products can usually be found in stores that have a high percentage of healthy and organic foods in them, and will usually carry a higher premium than their conventional counterparts.

According to TransFair USA’s website, they are working on certification for other agricultural products.

These are the facts about fair trade certification. For more details, visit the TransFair USA website’s FAQ

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Fair trade facts
Just the facts on what it means to be fair trade certified and what can carry the certification.