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Jubilee Today:
Fair Trade

“Thank you … all the way from Kentucky! The kids from our Church youth group found your resources to be so helpful while they are doing a  fair-trade fundraiser in preparation for their trip to a third world country next year!”—Sarah Roberts (October 2013)

Fair trade is a market-based approach to sustainable development that links consumers directly with producers, thereby reducing the number of levels in the distribution chain. As a result, a greater share of revenue gets in the hands of small-scale farmers. The purchase of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate bars, bananas and other fruits benefits producers and consumers by promoting:

  • Fair prices
  • Cooperative workplaces
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Access to financial and technical support
  • Quality products

Fair Trade is a system of trade favorable to local growers and the environment and, therefore, consistent with a jubilee, One Earth economy. Free trade, by contrast, is a system highly favorable to the global corporations and ruling elites that create it resulting in “Multi Earth” economics.

In 2000, when JEM sponsored our first delegation to Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, a relationship was begun with a fair trade cooperative of coffee growers, Maya Vinic. There story is featured in the video, Grounds for Action, that JEM produced in 2003. It was directed by Marco Tavanti, professor at DePaul University, Chicago, and a JEM Advisor. The video is bilingual and has been used internationally to educate on fair trade in high schools, colleges, congregations, and informal groups.

JEM continues to work organizationally with fair trade groups, being the fiscal sponsor currently for Fair Trade San Diego and Fair Trade Berkeley. Board member Dan Swanson who lives in San Cristobal, Chiapas, continues direct relationships with the Maya Vinic Cooperative and other fair trade initiatives.

fair trade international logoLook for this label to indicate authentic Fair Trade goods

Cafe Virtuoso, a San Diego roaster, wholesaler, and retail coffee and tea shop, is featured in Episode 18 of The Common Good Podcast, and a related slideshow video, created by JEM. Listen and watch to learn more about how fair trade draws interest from local, socially-conscious entrepreneurs who find fair trade products an enhancement of their ethical mission.

When shopping for coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, rice, and other products, always look for the Fair Trade Certified™ label. If your local market doesn’t stock these fairly traded items, encourage the store manager or owner to do so. In different parts of the world, over 200 products now carry the FT certified label.

When we can buy products knowing that the workers and the land are being treated justly and kindly, we feel the convergence of our ethics, faith, and purchase. This is what happens in our practice of jubilee economics. We can help spread this feeling to others who seek to be ethical buyers. Our congregations, households, schools, and workplaces are all venues in which we can encourage the shift to fair trade, increasing awareness as we do so. In many cases it’s an easy “sell.” Though the free trade system has created many destructive international free trade agreements negotiated by countries and corporate alliances, we do have a choice. And an expanding one at that.

The following video illustrates how fair trade helps Mexico’s coffee growers live sustainably.

Learn More about Fair Trade

As advocates of justice for both indigenous workers and God’s creation, we offer educational workshops that focus on fair trade for organizations, businesses, churches, schools and college campuses. If you would like to arrange a fair trade presentation in the San Diego or Chicago areas, please contact us.

For a more comprehensive understanding of Fair Trade concept, please visit Fair Trade USA. For the history of Fair Trade, you can click here—a page suggested to us by the youth group in Kentucky who were helped by the information on our website as they prepared for a fair trade fundraiser to raise money for their misson trip.

We’ve created two podcasts on fair trade interviewing a fair trade expert and two local business people who have started a 100% organic, 80% fair trade roasting, wholesale, and retail business. Access them both on this website:

Additional information can be found on the following web sites:

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Jubilee Economics Ministries • 3295 Meade Avenue San Diego, CA 92116 • 619-528-8075

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