Out of six official fair-trade towns in the whole United States, two are one town away from me–Amherst, Massachusetts and Northampton, Massachusetts (I live in the town between them, Hadley–which, small as it is, has at least five stores that sell fair-trade products)–and a third, Brattleboro, Vermont, is only 40 miles away. (The others are Media, Pennsylvania, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Taos, New Mexico.)
Fair-trade towns have publicly endorsed the notion that it makes sense to buy fair-trade goods, where the farmer is paid a living wage. Of course, it also makes sense to buy local and organic (and fair-trade is most often organic as well)–but a lot of us aren’t ready to give up products that don’t happen to grow near us.
So for coffee, tea, and cocoa, for bananas, sugar, and for a host of other products, let’s not build our enjoyment on other people’s backs.
I’m a chocoholic, but when I read this article, I knew I didn’t want to be a party to child slavery–so I stopped bringing on-fair-trade cocoa into the house. I’m proud of my neighbors in Northampton and Amherst (and my friend Dan Finn of Pioneer Valley Local First, who spearheaded the campaign).
I’m also proud of people in more than 30 countries who have signed the Business Ethics Pledge.
And how about your town?