Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Open Letter to the Fair Trade Marketing People

Dear Fair Trade Marketers:

I understand your interest in  marketing products as Fair Trade, and I applaud these types of efforts.  Fair Trade products make me feel better about what I purchase, consume, and enjoy.  When I see the Fair Trade logo, I am more likely to buy it, and even may pay a little more for it. 

This brings me to my lunch at Whole Foods.  I love Whole Foods, which is not only filled with healthful, affluent, organized people but also seems to promise to make me the same.  I enjoyed my salad, my tofu, and my time with friends.  I also thought my iced tea (with a hint of mint) was delightful.

I was not delighted, however, by this picture on my can of iced tea.

This is reality for these people, even under Fair Trade conditions?  The lady looks undernourished, overworked, and (is it possible to look) undereducated.  She looks tired, and burdened, and old before her time.  And I'm pretty sure her 8+ kids aren't in a regulated daycare.

She reminds me of the millions of people all over the world who live this way every day, when they're lucky enough to find work.  Much less find a farm involved in fair trade and become a poster-child-mint -tea-uncompensated-celebrity for third world agriculture.  She reminds me about my good fortune in being born when, where, and to the people I was so I could seek education, purchase big things, and build a careful career.  Instead of, oh, say, pick tea leaves by hand with a basket strapped to my head.   

Thanks for the Whole Foods buzzkill, Mr. & Ms. Marketer.


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