Monday, May 07, 2007

Quakers Take on Fair Trade

A group of about 30 Fair Trade enthusiasts and curious consumers, including a contingent from Guilford College, gathered at the William Penn House, a Quaker study and hospitality center, in Washington, DC to discuss Fair Trade last night. Quakers have historic testimonies regarding the equality of all, environmental stewardship, and peaceful co-existence. They are naturals for Fair Trade one would think (full disclosure: I am a Quaker myself so I have some inside scoops).

As usual, the Religious Society of Friends kept me on my toes with questions about what Fair Trade means beyond stated Fair Trade Federation principles and FLO standards. Some queries put forward ran along the lines of... "Won't buying coffee and bananas from far-away countries overseas raise my ecological footprint?," "How does buying speciality chocolate and coffee, and elaborately embroidered clothing, promote simplicty?," "Why should we contribute to the skewed cash-crop economies of the Global South when those farmers should be raising crops to feed themselves?"

I did the best I could with these and other comments. What would you have said? Post here!

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