I was first introduced to the idea of fair trade while volunteering with Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB). Promoting fair trade products – coffee, teas, chocolate, bananas, and other commodities from the Global South – was a central platform for many EWB chapters across Canada. I even ended up helping with the weekly Fair Trade Friday events, whereby fair trade coffee and teas were given out for free and we tried to encourage students to adopt fair trade purchasing into their buying. A few years later, the city of Edmonton (like many others across the world) became a Fair Trade City.
Fair trade sounded like a brilliant idea. Ensure farmers in developing countries received a minimum cost for their products, helping to bring them out of poverty. The trouble was that when I began to educate myself there was very few books or news articles providing a balance assessment, let alone critiquing the idea. Books like The Fair Trade Revolution and others were written and/or directly supported by the regulating organisation Fairtrade International. How can they provide an impartial look. Continue reading