According to The Canadian Fair Trade Network, in Latin America, workers on banana plantations can earn as little as 1% of the final price of the banana – and many of them work 12-14 hours of unpaid overtime. Workers attempting to unionize risk losing their jobs (or even their lives). And, the chemical sprays used on the plantations expose them to serious health risks.
When bananas are certified Fair Trade, workers have rights and salaries must be equal or higher than the national average or minimum wage. The forced labour of children under 15 is prohibited, and work cannot interfere with the education of children over 15 who do work. The plantation adheres to stricter health and safety measures, and even on non-organic bananas, the most dangerous pesticides and herbicides are prohibited.
Supporting Fair Trade certified products is a matter of life and death. Literally.
In Canada the following items can be purchased Fair Trade: bananas, cocoa, coffee, cosmetics, cotton, flowers, fruits and vegetables, gold, honey, olive oil, rice, quinoa, spices, sugar and sweeteners, tea, wine and even sports balls. Not only should you buy all of these items fair-trade, but every time you do NOT buy products that exploit people and our world, you are making change.
You will be paying fair wages.
You will be supporting safe, healthier and kinder working conditions for farmers and producers.
You will be supporting a healthier shared environment – healthier soil, air, water, plants and animals.
You will be supporting higher-quality products, as you are encouraging artisans to take pride in their work.
You will be supporting better tasting food by having farmers involved and invested in growing and harvesting the best food possible.
You will be limiting the overuse of agrochemicals – they aren’t good for us to have in our food system, in our ecosystem and certainly aren’t good for our farmers’ health.
You are supporting communities – artisans and farmers are able to invest earnings back into their communities to improve education, healthcare and their homes.
You are strengthening direct partnerships between buyers and producers, which allows profits to support local economies.
You are connecting with the best from other cultures and countries.
You are making a difference in the lives of the people, and their families who grow your food, and make the goods you use.
It really makes a difference when you choose these fairer, healthier, kinder options – and the more we ask for them, the more available they will become, the happier and healthier our world will be.
To learn more, we recommend the following resources that we used as sources:
The Canadian Fair Trade Network has a long list of companies that sell Fair Trade products in Canada, with information on why every industry needs Fair Trade. Start with their page on bananas.
People and Planet have a great explanation of the problems that make Fair Trade certifications necessary.
FAIRTRADE International is another comprehensive resource on every industry benefiting from Fair Trade standards.