Today is National Food Day , a time to come together and think about the food-related choices we make every day. Throughout our busy lives it's easy to forget that our food had a long history before it arrived on the sheves of our local supermarket, that it was grown and harvested by people with rich cultural histories in countries all across the globe. While we may be geographically separated from the people and places that produce the things we eat, we are actually all connected. Everybody eats.
In this era of corporate responsibily, comsumer awareness and demand for sustainable sourcing, it's important to step back and make sure that the food we buy helps improve lives and protect the environment.
“We cook at home to nourish our families. Using Fair Trade products teaches your kids that our nourishment is just as important as everyone else’s.” - Ashley Koff, RD on Meals that Matter 
Let's take a moment to look a little closer at where a few of our favorite Fair Trade Certified foods  come from:
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream: Vanilla
Last year ice cream guru Ben & Jerry's  made a committment to a full Fair Trade conversion by 2013. There's a lot that goes into making an ice cream, but one of the most important elements in many of the Ben & Jerry's flavors is vanilla. Much of the Fair Trade Certified vanilla is from a farm in Uganda called Ndali. Ndali sits about 200 miles West of the capital, Kampala, near a town called Fort Portal. The farm is run by a woman named Lulu Sturdy, who "inherited the farm from her uncle, and gained a community." With the help of ice cream lovers around the world, Fair Trade now helps over a hundered vanilla farmers and workers earn a fair price for all of thier hard work. Watch this video to learn more about Fair Trade vanilla in Uganda. 
Andean Naturals: Quinoa
The quinoa farmers that Andean Naturals  works with reside near the town of Salinas , at the shores of the Bolivian salt flats. Bolivia is a landlocked country in the heart of South America; It is the second poorest country in the Americas after Haiti. In a recent trip to the Fair Trade quinoa growing villages from whom they source, General Manager Sergio Núñez de Arco reported back  on his visit to a local school: "I asked below how many children had parents who were quinoa growers and 95% raised their hands. Three years ago nearly all of these children, eight years and up, would have been out in the fields harvesting quinoa alongside their parents. Instead they now attend school, and unlike many of their older siblings, have a chance to go onto high school."
By choosing Fair Trade Certified quinoa, you are helping farmers and their families earn better wages for their hard work, allowing them to hold on to their land, keep their kids in school, preserve their cultural heritage and invest in the quality and productivity of their harvest. With Fair Trade, Bolivians are one step closer to eliminating food scarcity and making sure there is enough quinoa for all who want and need it.
January 12th, 2010 marks the day that a 7.0 magnitude quake  killed or injured thousands of Haitian people and left nearly two million people homeless. It was a day that changed everything in the small, colorful Caribbean nation of Haiti . Amidst chaos and devastation, the farming communities there are working to rebuild their lives through Fair Trade.
Fair Trade USA went to Haiti to provide institutional support to the umbrella organization FENAPCOM  and their 10 memeber organizations, the only Fair Trade Certified mango cooperative in the region. The mission was to help these groups regain their Fair Trade certification.
After months of work on the ground, the Fair Trade program and the actual increase in revenues that the farmers see from participating—in addition to the important structure that the Fair Trade standards instill like democracy, participation, transparency, empowerment, environmental protection, and equal opportunity for all—is providing each farmer an avenue to rebuild their own future by themselves.
The first shipment of Fair Trade Certified mangos from FENAPCOM  became available at select Whole Foods Market  locations in the spring of 2011. Look for them and ask for them. Every mango matters more than you think. (Check out this VIDEO  to learn more).
As you can see, a mango isn't just a mango, nor is a scoop of ice cream just a yummy treat. Everything has a history. This Food Day we challenge you to ask questions, to demand from cafes and grocers that they carry responsibly sourced products, and to spread the word about Fair Trade to your friends and family. Use these these stories for inspiration. We may all have different opinions, cultural backgrounds and ways we like our coffee, but remember--everybody eats. Let's make sure our food choices today send a kid to school tomorrow, that our dinner here in the United States helped put dinner on the table of farming famiies Uganda, Bolivia, Haiti and 70 other countries across the globe.
Happy Food Day  everyone!