We envision a food system that keeps all families fed with nutritious foods, one where all farmers are paid fairly, and food is grown in a way that nourishes the soil rather than depletes it. Our fair trade partners are carrying out this vision through relationships with small-scale farmers, distributors, and retailers across the globe. This fall, we’re shining a light on the fair trade products in our stores and the stories behind them. Read on to dig deeper into learning more about what fair trade means and why it matters.
Through a unique pricing model, rigorous standards, support networks, and creating demand for ethical goods, Fairtrade organizations are building a better system for imported products.
- Better for the People
A Fairtrade model ensures that farmers are getting fair wages and safe working conditions. Fairtrade standards also address gender equality, child labor, and worker rights.
- Better for the Planet
Fairtrade organizations help farmers implement environmental standards that protect the local ecosystem. They also incentivize farmers to become certified organic by offering additional support funds to farms with both a Fairtrade and organic certification.
- Better for the Product
When something is Fairtrade certified, consumers know that the dollars spent on that product are going to small-scale farmers, investing in equality and worker rights, and a more sustainable future.
Why does it matter?
Around the globe, farming is the single largest occupation. Yet, many farmers live on $2 per day. The injustices that farmers face exist because of historical inequalities and injustices, many of which were solidified during the Colonial era and continue to through today.
Purchasing Fairtrade certified products directly address those injustices and brings us closer to an equitable future.
The bananas you find at the co-op come from Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange partners with banana farmer co-ops to source organic Fairtrade bananas at fair prices. AsoGuabo is one of those farmer co-ops and Johnny is a young farmer and AsoGuabo member. Johnny is featured on our new mural on the outside of the Lyndale Ave side of the Wedge.
“My grandfather, Jacinto Gabriel Aquim Ruiz dedicated his life to agriculture, specifically to banana and fruits production. He told me that before agriculture was different, it was harder work because they didn´t have the technology we have now, they had to carry the banana bunches on their shoulders for long distances and they sold them in bunches. When I was a kid, I liked to wake up early and accompany my grandpa Jacinto Aquim to the ports and to walk around the plantations, besides I liked to plant many different fruit plants.
At school, I was interested in biology and my teachers made me the chemistry lab´s assistant because I was very responsible. When I was finishing high school, I took the responsibility to have a property of 0.95 hectares that my parents bought for me so I could work and learn more about the field. When I started it was very hard because I didn´t have a place to deliver my boxes and I didn´t have a stable price. I entered AsoGuabo in my last year of high school, but at that time they didn´t have their own infrastructure. Following my grandpa´s advice, I also planted fruit trees to have something else to eat, besides bananas. I studied aquaculture engineering at the University. I learned about microorganisms that can be used as probiotics and about organic production and then changed my production to organic. Once I graduated, I started to work on many projects to combine aquaculture with agriculture.
I also saw changes AsoGuabo. I saw many improvements including having our own building, giving food supplies, and a Christmas bonus. Additionally, we have school benefits for producers. Now with Edwin Melo as president we have seen other benefits, we have a bio factory, we produce our own fertilizer and recycle plastic, we have medical care, improved packing and fertilizing cycles, and many benefits for members. I feel very happy to have seen the change of AsoGuabo and I am very proud to be part of this association.”
AsoGuabo is a farmer-run co-operative with 350 small-scale banana farmers. Each farmer is committed to improving the quality of life for themselves and their communities. In addition to earning a fair price for their bananas, the co-op receives a Fair-Trade social premium that members voted to spend on education, health care, retirement, environmental projects, and infrastructure improvements. Additionally, AsoGuabo is giving back to the local and global community by sharing their highly successful cooperative model with other producer groups in Ecuador and throughout the world.
The new mural at the Wedge Co-op was painted by talented Twin Cities muralist, Reggie LeFlore.
How long have you been painting murals in the Twin Cities?
I’ve been painting murals and taking part in public art projects in the Twin Cities since 2016, starting with Intermedia Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Where can we find your murals around town?
I have quite a few spread out throughout the Twin Cities – Two in Uptown (Black Lives Matter, All Year Round, and a commission done inside the Moxy Hotel), one that’s depicting a group of Twin Cities kids over on 16th and Lake, a mural in St Paul (The Afrocentric Spectrum), and two recently finished murals in downtown Minneapolis (an X Games mural) and in Bloomington (a collaborative mural done with Ua Si Creative).
Does your art typically have specific messages or themes?
The central theme involves the references of “everyday people”. I try to tell a story about the various cultures and identities of the people I paint, which usually ends up becoming a collaborative process as I learn more about the folks I’m depicting.
What’s your favorite mural you’ve done?
My recent faves have been with the X Games and Ua Si Creative projects, but I really enjoyed the reception behind The Afrocentric Spectrum. The concept honors the vast spectrum of Blackness told through the stories of two characters – a demigoddess whose Black history had been wiped away and a mortal man who’s essentially a vessel of Black knowledge in modern times. It was painted in 2020, a time that was incredibly challenging for Black folks, so it felt good to paint something positive and not so triggering.
Why were you interested in doing the mural project at the Wedge?
This project falls in line with the types of work I want to take part in, which involves using my talents to uplift others’ stories through large-scale portraits. This one is special because it depicts a young banana farmer who realizes his overall impact among the world, as well as his surroundings and the folks that came before him. There’s a lot to learn from Johnny’s experiences.
Learn more about Reggie and his work on his website, ral86.com.
We’re proud to carry a variety of Fairtrade-certified products throughout our stores. Look for the Fairtrade certified label to guarantee that your purchase supports small-scale farmers and workers around the globe. Here’s just a sampling of some of customers favorite Fairtrade products!
Equal Exchange Organic Earl Grey Tea
A feel-good alternative to a classic cup of tea. Perfect for a cozy fall afternoon.
This blend includes tea grown by a community of small-scale landowners committed to environmental preservation. The organization that processes their tea grants market access to small farmers so that they can stay on the land, provide strong livelihoods for their families, and maintain healthy and vibrant communities.
Endangered Species Almond + Sea Salt + Dark Chocolate Bar
This decadent treat features California-grown almonds and a pinch of sea salt. A customer favorite!
Endangered Species uses only Fairtrade certified cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast of West Africa. Other ingredients are Fairtrade certified when possible.
Equal Exchange French Roast Coffee
Our go-to, top-selling Equal Exchange coffee. A dark and nutty classic, great for starting your day on a positive note.
Equal Exchange partners with democratically run farmer co-ops around the world to source their products. Their coffee beans are purchased from twenty-three cooperatives in twelve countries.
Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Ice Cream
An indulgent frozen dessert – vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough, swirled together with fudge brownie pieces.
Ben & Jerry’s was the first ice cream maker in the world to use Fairtrade Certified ingredients. About ten years later, they committed to sourcing Fairtrade certified alternatives for every possible ingredient in all flavors of their ice creams.
Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap
Co-op shoppers love this simple castile soap scented with organic peppermint oil. It leaves skin feeling cool and refreshed!
Dr. Bronner’s is committed to building relationships with organic farmers and producers to create equitable supply chains. They guarantee fair prices for farmers, living wages and excellent working conditions, and respect for the earth and its people.
Organic India Turmeric Formula
A customer favorite for joint health, anti-inflammatory and pancreatic and liver support.
Organic India works with a network of over 3,000 farms throughout India. All farms use organic, bio-regenerative agriculture and have enjoyed social, environmental, and economic recovery as a result.
Equal Exchange Bananas
Equal Exchange bananas come from three organic farmer cooperatives in Peru and Ecuador. The farmers in the co-op share resources, capital, and knowledge that helps them leverage their resources and gain access to a global market.
The Equal Exchange bananas you find at the co-op are ripened to perfection at our very own Co-op Partners Warehouse.