Posted by permission this post was written by Alisa Gravitz of Green America
In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to recognize that making small changes in our purchasing habits can make a profound difference. (the editor)
When I was kid, my favorite Thanksgiving blessing was the one that ended, “and bless all those whose hands made and grew this food so that we could enjoy this day in celebration of our blessings.” I would picture all the people around the world who had a hand in setting our table.
This Thanksgiving, many will take that same moment to consider all the human connections involved in assembling such a meal. Maybe your cranberries, or potatoes, or turkey came from a farmer you know at your local market, or maybe you traveled to a locally owned pumpkin patch to pick the perfect main ingredient for your pie.
For other ingredients that aren’t so easy to find locally, there are often Fair Trade options that you can choose, to create a world where everyone, everywhere can have a fair deal. The Fair Trade premium associated with these products helps producers build a better life for their families and communities.
The first Fair Trade products to be certified in the US — coffee, tea, and chocolate — are getting easier and easier to find, even in conventional grocery stores. If you don’t see them, please ask for them. Below, please find links to companies in our Green Business Network™ who supply some harder-to-find Fair Trade products. Look for additional green and Fair Trade options at our Green Pages online, and ask your local supermarkets to stock these items too.
This past September, Frontier Natural Products Co-op greatly expanded its offering of Fair Trade spices. In addition to the vanilla (beans and extract) already available, Frontier worked closely with Sri Lankan growers to add whole cloves, ginger root powder, cinnamon sticks and powder, whole black peppercorns, ground white and black pepper, ground nutmeg, and ground turmeric root.
2. Olive oil
Two companies in our business network offer Fair Trade olive oil from the Palestinian territories. Holy Land Olive Oil buys directly from farmer coops, or through partner organizations such as the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee. Canaan Fair Trade works directly with the cooperatives of the Palestine Fair Trade Organization to offer not only olive oil, but also whole olives, tapanade, couscous, and thyme.
3. Rice and quinoa
For your side dishes, consider creations made with Fair Trade rice from the producer cooperatives of rural northeastern Thailand. Alter-Eco offers four kinds of Thai rice, along with four kinds of Fair Trade quinoa from Bolivia. Andean Naturals (a business funded by New Resource Bank, another member of our business network) also offers a wide selection of Fair Trade quinoa. (Join our “break up with your mega-bank” campaign to help finance more businesses like Andean Naturals!)
For your Thanksgiving baking, consider sugar from Fair Trade farmers. Find sugar from Paraguay from Dean’s Beans, and sugar from the Phillipines from Alter-Eco. Simply Organic offers baking mixes — carrot cake, brownie mix, spice cookies — that incorporate Fair Trade sugar or cocoa.
Okay, so this one’s not exactly a Fair Trade item for your dining room table, but you’ll need it for cleaning house before the guests arrive, and after they leave. Dr. Bronner’s soaps are made with all Fair Trade oils.
Alisa Gravitz is the Executive Director of Green America.