Why Should We Consume Fair Trade?
“Her family earned 12,000 rupees per year – less than US$0.74 per day – through farming. That’s when her husband, Kistaiah, was alive” (Patel 74). After reading Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved, I had a revelation and I have never looked at supermarkets the same way again. This particular narrative relates the unfortunate story of Parvathi Masaya, a widow from a small rural town in India, trying her best to provide for her family while mourning her husband’s loss to suicide. On August 11, 2004, Kistaiah succumbed to the troubled world of farming. He sunk deeper and deeper in debt due to the loans he took from local loan sharks to acquire land but he barely made a dollar a day from farming it. Certainly, it could not cover the costs to provide for his family, let alone pay for the money he borrowed. So, he decided to end his suffering by ingesting highly toxic pesticide. Surely, Kistaiah and his family are not alone in experiencing this tragedy. Unfortunately, farmers worldwide are descending to this bleak reality of poverty, which can be traced as a direct result of corporate corruption. As consumers, we can take part in purchasing Fair Trade items and supporting non-profit organizations, to ensure that farmers earn what they deserve to move out of these impoverished conditions.
Patel points out the truth behind the corporate food system that we as consumers overlook. The book stated that food retail corporations alone earned over US$4 trillion in 2009. With that, I realized the disheartening truth behind our global food system. Clearly, there is a great gap between the profits made by corporations and farmers. Most corporations act as the middlemen between the producers and consumers. Unfairly, as the items hit the supermarket shelves, these companies pocket most of the profits while the farmers only obtain a few cents for their labor. However, not all hope is lost to these moneymaking giants. We can create a bridge and lessen the gap through Fair Trade. This movement began in the 1940s through North American and European organizations, which aided impoverished communities, sell handicrafts for profit to well-off markets. Presently, Fair Trade is a global effort where consumers can vitalize developing nations, relieve exploitation while promoting environmentally-safe practices by purchasing Fair Trade-labeled tea, cocoa, coffee and etc.
For the most part, Fair Trade is an honorable and commendable act to reduce the corporate exploitation. Although, an argument published in The Economist, a London-based news publication, declares that corporations are taking steps to end corruption. According to the piece, “IKEA has gone to great lengths to fight corruption in Russia, including threatening to halt its expansion in the country, firing managers who pay bribes and buying generators to get around grasping officials holding up grid connections” (Coporate Corruption). This effort is not only...