When a product is fair trade certified, you can rest assured that it’s produced according to strict environmental, economic, and social guidelines. And though fair trade goods have been touted as simply a trend or fad, the numbers show otherwise. Since 2012, global fair trade revenue has steadily climbed. In 2016, fair trade products brought in about $9 billion dollars globally.
Those who choose to purchase fair trade items understand the positive impact their purchase has on the environment, but are fair trade products better for your health as well? At the very least, they improve the quality of life of the farmers and suppliers.
Defining Fair Trade
Put simply, fair trade is defined by a set of business principles that advocate for fair wages, independence, and health of workers across the world. Fair trade standards are strict and industry-specific, but the general principles of the methods are all-encompassing across all types of consumable goods.
To meet fair trade standards within the fashion industry, for example, brands must adhere to the Fairtrade Textile Standard, as well as a Factory Standard, which requires that all workers have access to healthcare. Fair trade certification in the textile industry also means that workers are guaranteed a living minimum wage.
As for foods, fair trade standards prohibit the use of chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. By default, many fair trade certified food products are organic as well.
In every industry with fair trade certification, forced labor is prohibited, and there are several ways to learn whether a company or product is fair trade certified. Look for fair trade certification seals, which are issued by only three companies in the U.S. You can also utilize non-profit websites such as KnowTheChain to look up certification stats on a particular company.
What Fair Trade Health Standards Mean
Fair trade certification is a two-way street where global health is concerned. The farmers and workers producing fair trade certified goods have access to health care, along with safe working conditions. On the other side of the coin, research shows that fair trade products are better for the consumer’s health as well.
Serious health problems, including obesity, have been linked to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Choosing to include as many fair trade items as possible in your diet can help combat obesity, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Healthy dietary choices may lead to increased lifespan and fewer incidences of illness and disease.
Environmental Benefits of Fair Trade Products
Along with the individual health benefits, fair trade farming and production methods are inherently healthier for the planet. Pesticide use is discouraged or completely prohibited, depending on the fair trade certification entity, leading to improved soil health.
Mindfulness is also a guiding principle of fair trade farming methods. By understanding how to grow certain crops together in order to increase the yield of both, food production is diversified, and income increases.
Environmental adaptation is another essential skill among those adhering to fair trade farming standards. Increasing biodiversity and finding natural methods of pest control equates a healthier harvest and bigger yields.
Fair trade is part of the worldwide green energy revolution, helping improve environmental health. Many fair trade certified companies offset their carbon use with fair trade carbon credits and sustainability projects, such as reforestation.
The future of fair trade looks bright, according to industry insiders. Fair trade’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down, which means a healthier outlook for both workers in impoverished nations and the planet overall.