Handbook of Research on Fair Trade
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Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Fair trade critiques the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and seeks to promote social justice by creating alternative networks linking marginalized producers (typically in the global South) with progressive consumers (typically in the global North). The first of its kind, this volume brings together 43 of the foremost fair trade scholars from around the world and across the social sciences. The Handbook serves as both a comprehensive overview and in-depth guide to dominant perspectives and concerns. Chapters analyze the rapidly growing fair trade movement and market, exploring diverse initiatives and organizations, production and consumption regions, and food and cultural products. Written for those new to fair trade as well as those well versed in this domain, the Handbook is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners interested in global regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives, social and environmental certification, ethical labeling, consumer activism, and international development.
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Chapter 19: The US market and Fair Trade Certified

April Linton and Claudia Rosty


Fair trade is a dynamic movement seeking poverty alleviation and empowerment of producers and workers through ethical trading between Northern consumers and Southern producers. The movement is constituted of alternative trading organizations (ATOs), formalized labeling and certification systems and social movement groups supporting fair trade principles (Wilkinson 2007). Each component played an important role in the evolution and expansion of the fair trade movement in the United States. In this chapter we briefly recount its history and address contemporary issues around its practice and growth. How does the United States compare to other markets for fair trade products? What do the differences mean for those who are attempting to grow fair trade in the United States? Can fair trade scale up to supply US markets without diluting its core standards? To address these questions we draw on recent scholarship and interviews with advocates working to promote fair trade and workers’ rights in US communities, schools and businesses. Fair trade’s US roots trace to small-scale ‘alternative’ and ‘direct’ models of international trade. On a 1946 visit to Puerto Rico, a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer met women skilled at creating beautiful lace, but who lived in extreme poverty. She began selling the lace in her home community, delivering the proceeds directly to the artisans. Her work eventually grew to become the fair trade enterprise Ten Thousand Villages (Fair Trade Federation 2014a).

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