You know how every now and then, you take a bite of something and it’s so insanely good, your eyes involuntarily roll back into your head? Moments like those are few and far between for most of us, especially because food that divine is often outrageously decadent or made with rare, expensive ingredients. But sometimes what makes that food so delicious – even beyond brilliant flavor combinations and expert preparation – is the knowledge that every single aspect of its production was handled with the utmost care and responsibility.
Call me crazy, but for me, that’s why Fair Trade Certified foods taste even better than food made with the same exact ingredients but produced in a way that screws over the environment, workers and community that created it. Would you treat a bar of Hershey’s chocolate the same way that you’d treat a bar that is not only organic, but sourced directly from well-paid Mayan farmers? Nope. While you might scarf down a cheap candy bar without a thought, this chocolate is special.
For Fair Trade Month, I got to try a few certified food products including a bar of Green & Black’s dark chocolate, some La Yapa quinoa and a tin of Rishi Wild Berry loose tea. All of these products are certified by Fair Trade USA, an organization that ensures that products labeled ‘Fair Trade Certified’ meet strict criteria including fair price, fair labor conditions, direct trade without unnecessary middlemen, democratic dealings between the producers, community development and environmental sustainability.
Not only were the raw ingredients that went into each of these products sustainably grown by knowledgable farmers in a healthy working environment, those farmers often spend Fair Trade revenues on social and business development projects like scholarship programs and organic certification.
Are any of the products I tried unbelievably, eye-rolling good? Maybe not (though give a good chef that La Yapa quinoa – a brand owned by farmers in the salt flats of Bolivia – and your odds are definitely favorable). All of them were delicious, no doubt about that.
But beyond that, there’s a wonderful satisfaction in knowing that your purchase not only did no harm, but helped improve the quality of life of farming families and their communities – and this knowledge will induce you to slow down and savor that bite of chocolate, and truly enjoy that cup of tea.
Learn more about all kinds of Fair Trade Certified products at TransFairUSA.org.