Fair Trade USA works with more than 1 million farmers and workers from over 70 countries around the world. These are the people who grow our flowers, pick our coffee, harvest our tea, and plant our bananas, the people who take care of our earth at its most basic level.
We recently had the opportunity to bring some of these farmers to the United States, not only to meet their international buyers and learn more about the Fair Trade industry, but also to visit their prized products on store shelves.
For many farmers and workers, the last time they see their crop is when it’s being packed on a truck headed for the shopping carts of conscious consumers like you. That’s why our trip to Costco  and Whole Foods Market  with a group of flower workers and coffee farmers from Central and South America was an experience we’re not likely to forget.
Flower Workers Visit Whole Foods Market
At Whole Foods Market  in Portland, Oregon, workers from the Hoja Verde  & Agrogana  flower farms in Ecuador discussed the amazing impact Fair Trade has had on their lives (all the while holding bouquets of their very own flowers).
These inspiring women told us how the sale of Fair Trade Certified roses in the United States has enabled them to invest in things like education for their children, pediatric care, cancer screening clinics, adult education (i.e. computer science), micro-financing for home appliances, and so much more. The breadth of their community development programs has benefitted the entire region, not just the workers on the farm.
Fair Trade has also enabled a deeper investment in product quality and environmental best practices.
“We grow every flower with love,” said Rocio Giron. “We hope you feel that love when you buy our roses.”
Coffee Farmers Visit Costco
Fair Trade began with a handful of small, mission-driven companies here in the U.S; it has now grown to be adopted by more than 800 companies of all different sizes. Fair Trade USA works with companies, both small and large, to help them source high-quality Fair Trade Certified products that help improve lives and protect the environment. While a majority numbers our partners are small mom-and-pop shops, small-to-medium sized roasters, local cooperatives and retail stores, we also work with larger companies who are working to make a difference in the lives of farmers and workers around the world.
When a nationally-distributed retailer like Costco  sources and sells Fair Trade Certified products, it amplifies the positive impact of Fair Trade for the people from whom they source-- It means more Fair Trade products on more store shelves from which consumers in more locations can choose.
Here you can see Cesar Rivas from CAC La Florida , a coffee cooperative in Peru. Cesar’s parents were also coffee farmers, and were part of the cooperatives in the early 90’s when the Shining Path guerrilla group burned the cooperative offices down and left the community in ruins. After the violence ended, only 50 of the original 1000 members remained.
Today La Florida is a strong, thriving business with over 1,200 members. They are growing day by day thanks to the increased commitment of U.S. businesses like Costco who source their high-quality, Fair Trade Certified coffee.
Before leaving the store we asked Cesar what he likes best about Fair Trade. He replied with a simple yet powerful message, “Fair Trade is our way of life.”
Fair Trade USA looks forward to bringing many more Fair Trade farmers and workers to the United States to share in this experience, and to provide more U.S. businesses with the opportunity to thank and acknowledge the people who work hard to grow the products they love.