Food You Should Buy Fair Trade List

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/13/22 •  6 min read

Food you should buy fair trade. Certified foods cost more money. How do you even know which ones need to be fair trade? What does fair trade mean anyhow? Let’s dig into this ethical issue…

fair trade food list

As a conscious consumer you care about how things you buy impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. Or HEAL for short. (Hmm, sound familiar?) 

Fitness junkies want health info. Sustainability-minded individuals are environmentally oriented. Vegans tend to put animals above all else. 

But the ‘labor’ aspect of stuff we consume too often gets overlooked.

Food You Should Buy Fair Trade
The concern for ethical consumers is whether we’re funding human exploitation. 

Take a moment to imagine the sheer (wo)man-power behind the products we purchase, specifically when it comes to food. 

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture?

Agriculture And Food Security

Reflect on the origin of what you eat and drink throughout the day. You can trace it all back to agriculture. 

For farm-hands food means physical labor, long hours in the heat and sun and repetitive motions -no easy task! Not to mention the fact that it’s unsteady, seasonal work.

For farmers, food profits depend on the weather/climate, consumer demand, pest invasion and crop yield. It’s no wonder so many growers have resorted to the more reliable -although toxic- route of using chemicals and GMOs that often promise a greater, more predictable turnout. 

Additionally, it takes planning, plowing and patients before crops are ripe enough to harvest, transport and sell. Talk about a delayed and return on investment!

It’s hard to believe many of our family members farmed for themselves only a few generations ago! Personally, I can hardly keep a basil plant alive long enough to make it to a second spaghetti dinner. And when my tomatoes fail to turn red forget about the homemade pasta sauce…fried green tomatoes it is!

human rights and farm workers
In some parts of the world there are no human rights laws in place to ensure people are taken care of properly. 

The concern for us ethical consumers is whether we’re funding human exploitation. 

Food sourced from underdeveloped countries is the most problematic because there are less human rights laws in place to ensure people are taken care of properly. 

However, in developed areas of the world that are agricultural powerhouses, say California for instance, mistreatment also occurs.

Many migrant workers are undocumented. Workers stay silent because they fear job loss and deportation. People is desperate, vulnerable situations are sadly the ones most likely to be taken advantage of!

Human rights concerns include:

That said, there are certain foods that statistically have a bad reputation for exploitation. What food should you buy fair trade? Here’s a quick list…

Food you should buy fair trade:

Cocoa is just one of many foods to always buy fair trade.
Cocoa is just one of many foods to always buy fair trade.

Other products you should always buy fair trade:

You should always buy cotton fair trade
Cotton: more controversial than you thought! The crop turned material is known to cause a lot of suffering throughout the world.

Did you know there is forced adult and child labor in Uzbekistan -one of the largest cotton exporters in the world! Every year the government orders schools to close and enforces millions of adults and children to devote all efforts for the nation to meet their cotton field quotas. Several hundred thousand children must give up their education to work in the cotton industry! –Human Rights Watch

Why You Should Never Buy Seafood If You Care About People

Some foods are too difficult for fair trade organizations to certify due to their ambiguous origins. Seafood is one such example…

Most seafood originates in southeast Asia where there are high numbers of trafficked people promised work but then held at sea against their will! (Source: SEAFDEC)

Boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years on end, keeping slave workers unseen and trapped at sea. Recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”. There is little to no compensation for their work. Seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected.

Seafood consumed in the United States is mostly from foreign sources. Only 3% of fish and shellfish is caught or farmed in American territory!

Fisheries of the United States, 2019 Fact Sheet – NOAA

The good news is: you can improve lives around the world if you boycott problematic products like fish and other seafood that are too difficult for human rights authorities to regulate.

Conclusion: Why Buy Fair Trade?

Why Buy Fair Trade?
Fair Trade funds can provide schools and education for children.

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

When you pay extra money for products that are fair trade certified it’s not just more money in the pockets of workers. It helps communities collectively!

Fair trade funds provide schools and education for children, clean drinking water and help convert farms to organic.

Certifying parties include: Fairtrade International, World Fair Trade Organization, Fair Trade USA and more.

You can improve people’s lives with foods you eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Want to teach your kids about the origins of their food and farmer appreciation? 

Teach your kids where food comes from and to be thankful for those who help grow it for us.

Check out this kids book I wrote and illustrated called The Roots Of Our Food.

Ideal for ages 2-8 and available in digital, audio and paperback formats.

It’s colorful! It rhymes!

It provides answers for your little ones’ inquisitive minds.

Peek inside the book here.

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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