22 October, 2015

A Nutritionist's View - Why I Choose Fairtrade Products

Fairtrade tea workers in India
by Margaux J Rathbun

Margaux J Rathbun is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares her knowledge of nutrition and health on her blog, www.authenticselfwellness.com. Margaux wrote a blog for Fairtrade America about how she came to understand what fair trade means and why she chooses Fairtrade certified products.

As a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I’m always on the hunt for products that not only facilitate my own health and wellbeing, but also support the health and wellbeing of the planet and all its peoples.

In my searches, I routinely come across fair trade products that seem to fit the bill; however, I was confused by all the labels, certifications, and claims. My clients who see me as a source of nutritional knowledge, often question these seals and logos too, wondering what they mean.

I reached out to Fairtrade America and wound up posting this blog for Organic India, a tea company that makes Fairtrade teas. I find it helps the everyman or woman understand what the label means and how it empowers others, the environment and themselves.

I was surprised, for instance, to know that different fair trade labels denote different types of certification. I learned that the FAIRTRADE Mark on Organic India’s packaging means fair wages for tea workers and fair prices for small-scale team farmers. It also means the worst forms of child labor and forced labor are prohibited and that farms need to promote safe working conditions for their workers. Further, if any unacceptable child labor is discovered, the Fairtrade system has an impressive protocol designed over the past 15 years to address the needs of those affected children and to work on the root causes. This response system puts the children first and encourages all parties involved to make long term commitments to continuous improvements.

What I didn’t know was that it also means that farmers and workers need to be organized in democratic associations so that they can not only vote on how to use their Fairtrade Premium (the extra sum of money that is invested in community initiatives and business improvement projects), but also so they can have more bargaining power with buyers or the employers.

It made me really appreciate companies like Organic India even more. They work with a system that simply does not pay farmers more – they work with groups of farmers that are truly enabled to grow and take more control over their own lives.

Do have a look at my blog and learn more about Fairtrade and tea farmers. Also, use Fairtrade America’s handy list of companies that make Fairtrade certified products for the next time you’re out shopping.

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