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Natural Awakenings

Europe Leads: International Support for Small Farmers and Artisans

Although fair trade is still modest in scope, given the factors of smart product design, business strategies and economies of scale, Europeans are proving that it can be a viable market, even in recessionary times. More than 70 percent of the British populace, for example, now recognizes the fair-trade mark, while just 28 percent of U.S. consumers do, according to a recent survey by the Fairtrade Foundation. More, one in four UK shoppers now regularly buy several fair trade products, while fewer than 6 percent of Americans could even name a fair-trade organization.

Fair trade is based on the principle of paying workers a fair price for sustainable products. Damien Sanfilippo, a cotton project manager with the international Pesticide Action Network, points out yet another benefit: “Fair trade can provide a stepping stone for [Third World] farmers to convert to organic, because it’s easier to become fair-trade certified,” he says. “Once they have access [to higher fair-trade prices], they can decide to use the premium to finance the training that they need to move towards more sustainable practices—all the way up to organic.”

Source:  The Christian Science Monitor

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