An unfortunate outcome of the global economy often involves the exploitation of Third World workers who make goods or grow crops for industrialized nations. Far too often, the production involves severe safety violations, abysmal wages, and child slaves. The goods are gobbled up by the big box stores and sold at a tremendous profit for the companies, while the overseas workers continue to be exploited.
Fair trade products are grown or made under international agreements that promote equitable and sustainable trading partnerships by creating opportunities that alleviate poverty. Fair trade puts more profit into the worker's hands, empowering the small farmer or crafts person to better their life. Many fair trade goods are hand crafted. Fair trade advocates reasonable prices for goods, versus the oft touted lowest possible price for goods at the cost of working wages and slows the socio-economic race to the bottom.
Fair trade is showing up in more mainstream stores around the nation. Free trade coffee, sugar, chocolate, and tea are frequently found with a fair trade label. Conscientious consumers can seek the fair trade label on the shelves of supermarkets and specialty stores, ensuring sustainable farming practices and fair wages for the people who grew the crops.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 14 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. They have produced a short film about the fair trade industry.