Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fair trade bananas, rice, sugar, and more: 12 types of fair trade products and where to find them

If you think fair trade is just about coffee, tea, and chocolate, take another look-- new products are being produced and traded fairly all the time!  Co-op America's put together an article called Twelve Ways to Shop Fair Trade Now and a brand-new 24-page Guide to Fair Trade(PDF).
The types of fair trade products available are expanding at a fantastic rate. There's fair trade sugar (and molasses), which is already available at a grocery store near me and maybe one near you.  A number of varieties of fair trade rice are in stores and online as well. Fair trade bananas and other fruit are being certified now, including mangoes, pineapples, and grapes. And where there's fair trade grapes, there's fair trade wine-- it debuted in the U.S. this spring.
There's fair trade vanilla, in a starring role in Ben and Jerry's ice cream and increasingly available in stores and online. Fair trade olive oil from rural Palestinian farmers is a new trend.   Fair trade spices including pepper, ginger, turmeric, curry, nutmeg, lemongrass, lemon verbena, peppermint, and oregano are available in Europe and are about to start showing up in the U.S. And don't forget the fair trade sports balls-- soccer, volleyball, and more-- if you're thinking fair trade is all about food. (It's not, of course; the movement began with fair trade handicrafts decades ago.)

I wrote about how to find coffee, tea, chocolate and handicrafts here and here, so let's move on to some of the newer products:  
  • According to this search using the Transfair store finder, there are 162 stores nationwide selling fair trade sugar, rice, and/or fruit. These 119 sell fair trade sugar, here's 91 selling fair trade rice, and 110 stores offer fair trade fruit. And I am sure that I will shortly be in the happy position of having my numbers be out of date, as new stores start offering the products.
  • You can order Frontier fair trade vanilla extract through their website-- or through Amazon Grocery.  A few stores, including some Whole Foods/Wild Oats locations, stock it too, and more will soon!
  • Etica fair trade wine is available in a few stores, in states like Minnesota, California, and Illinois, or can be ordered online if it's legal for you to receive it by mail in your state.
  • Buy fair trade olive oil online and keep an eye out for it to appear in stores.
  • Mountain Rose Herbs say they are the first U.S. distributor of fair trade spices and herbs-- at the time of writing I can't find confirmation on their website, but give them a call or order their catalogy!
  • Fair Trade Sports has fair trade sports balls online, and I've seen them occasionally in stores as well.
  • Alter Eco, which sells fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, rice, and even quinoa and hearts-of-palm, sells products in  these stores (no details on which stores carry which products) and online.
  • And the National Green Pages are a good tool to find all sorts of online and offline stores selling fair trade products-- so if you haven't found what you were looking for yet, search away!
  • If you can't find what you're looking for near you and/or would like to help expand the availability of fair trade products, Co-op America is always working on this-- right now they have a letter-writing campaign to get supermarkets to carry fair trade bananas.
I continue to be amazed and pleased at how quickly the fair trade movement is growing.   I bet this post will be out-of-date within a few months, and I couldn't be happier about it!  In the meantime, I hope this is a good resource to help you track down the new fair trade products in stores and online-- let me know if you have other intel I can add.  (And again, I know this post is very U.S.-centric, but the availability of fair trade is so different between countries that I just couldn't do the research for everyone-- I'm glad to add links for other countries if readers can suggest them.)

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