Consumers & Businesses

Consumers:

Fair Trade Certification & Labeling

Learn more about certification and labeling initiatives that address labor conditions (please note that we are not endorsing any of the following certifications).

You can find more information about international efforts to promote fair trade at:

Talk to your farmer

Buying directly from farmers gives you the chance to talk with them and learn more about on-farm labor practices.  Here are some ways you might approach farmers to learn more about farm labor conditions. It’s important to be aware that many small farmers are barely making a living themselves. Let them know you support a fair price for farmers, so they can afford to provide their workers with good conditions.

  • How many people work on your farm?
  • Where are they from?
  • It is important to me to support farmers who are providing good labor conditions. Can you tell me a bit more about your farm? Is there anything you’re doing, or thinking about doing to make it a good place to work?
  • I know it’s difficult for farmers to provide expensive benefits like health insurance to workers when you can’t always afford that yourself. Are there other ways you’re working to improve working conditions on your farm?
What you can do as an eater
  • Buy local, buy direct, and get to know your farmer! When you have a personal relationship with a farmer it is easier to talk about workplace conditions on the farm.
  • Buy Fair Trade labels when possible.  By purchasing fair trade certified products you show support for workers and farmers all over the world and support the growing movement for domestic fair trade in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Join a CSA.  By being a member of a farm, you can get to know the farmer personally, and can meet the workers for yourself.  You can let your farmer know it is important to you for the farm to provide good labor conditions.
  • Talk with other people.  Potluck, share food, and share the stories behind the food: Where did it come from? Who grew it? What are working conditions like? Getting others thinking about these issues is crucial.
  • Get involved in local organizations.  Fair trade could be a great issue for sustainability groups or community groups.  Go to a meeting and see who else is interested in working with you.
  • Get in touch with a local farmworker organization to learn more about the issues in your area. Host an event such as a film screening or art exhibit, and have members of the organization come present beforehand.
  • Educate others.  Take a look at our Be an Educator section to learn more about how you can give a presentation and teach others about the issues.

Business advocates:

What you can do as a business
  • Purchase products with domestic or international fair trade certification when possible. Although domestic fair trade products can be hard to find, there are plenty of internationally certified products (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc).  Start with the easy low-hanging fruit and grow your program from there.
  • Implement a supply chain code of conduct to make sure that all your suppliers are practicing good labor conditions.  Think about how you will enforce your code of conduct after it is created.
  • Ask suppliers about labor conditions when seeking bids. This can be a good way to start a conversation.  Let them know fair labor practices are important to you.
  • Adopt a policy that ensures preferential purchasing from farms with good labor conditions.  Promise to buy certified fair trade food if it is available.
  • Direct sourcing. Do you purchase products directly from a farm? Source directly from farmers you know and trust when possible. Ask them what a fair price for their products would be, so they can make a decent living and provide their workers with better conditions. Visit their farms and talk with the workers so you can see what conditions are like for yourself.
  • Demand transparency from your suppliers.  If they cannot tell you where the food or other product was made, who made it, and how they were treated, don’t buy from them.
  • Buy fair trade for your coffee break room or cafeteria.  Make sure you label it well so employees and customers know what you are doing!
  • Support local farmworker organizations through donations or employee volunteer opportunities.
  • Purchase from farms with unionized work forces when possible.
  • Tell your customers you support fair trade. Whenever you do any of the above, make sure people know what you are doing and why.  Customers can then choose to support your socially responsible business.
  • Join the Domestic Fair Trade Association
Featured Businesses

The following businesses were featured in “Fair Food: Field to Table” for their important roles as change makers:

Find information about farms, processors, and other businesses that are certified or unionized (please note that this is not an endorsement of any businesses or labels):