Fair Trade Celebrated

HNP Communications Features

Thousands of people around the world celebrated the fair trade model on May 13. Fair trade brings consumers together with disadvantaged artisans and farmers from around the world.

The theme this year was “Fair Trade Organizations NOW.” It urged consumers to support organizations, like the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Fair Trade Program, which are committed to making the economy work for disadvantaged producers worldwide.

Jud Weiksnar reports that in Camden they use Equal Exchange coffee, and that it is also used at Mount Irenaeus.

“In Camden, we get it in five pound bags of beans, so when we grind it in the morning we get that great smell of fresh ground coffee,” Jud said. “It comes in a variety of flavors and comes from different countries. We have tried it from Mexico, Bolivia and Peru so far. The only mishap we had was when one time we put decaf beans in the regular container. It took a few days for me to figure out why I was feeling so sluggish in the morning, even after two cups.”

“The Equal Exchange brand we get is already fair trade, shade grown and organic. In trying to complete the cycle of ‘coffee with a conscience,’ we are now composting the coffee grounds to put in our organic vegetable garden,” Jud said.

The Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Program celebrated its sponsorship of World Fair Trade Day by announcing it surpassed $1 million in fair trade sales for the second year in a row in 2005, and has distributed over $100,000 in grants to help expand the Fair Trade market.

In the United States, the CRS Fair Trade Program and its partners promote fair trade products to U.S. Catholics, including fair trade coffee from Nicaragua, fair trade chocolate from Ghana, and fair trade handcrafts from dozens of countries around the world. Overseas, CRS and its partners provide credit, technical assistance and marketing support to disadvantaged farmers and artisans to help them sell their products to the U.S. fair trade market.

“Fair trade brings us together in mutually beneficial relationships with our brothers and sisters around the world,” said Michael Sheridan, CRS’s economic justice program officer. “We are proud to sponsor World Fair Trade Day celebrations in the United States, and encourage U.S. Catholics to act on the event’s theme and Support Fair Trade Organizations Now!”

“Our partners are all fair trade organizations,” Sheridan explained. “Their commitment to pay a fair price to struggling farmers and artisans complements the long-term efforts of CRS to promote sustainable development around the world. Their contributions to the CRS Fair Trade Fund have enabled us to make more than $100,000 in grants to allies at home and overseas.”

According to Jud, “On my trips to El Salvador and Colombia I have asked local people if fair trade coffee really makes a difference or if it’s just a gimmick, and everyone has told me that it does help for us to buy it.”