What is Fair Trade? Fair Trade is a way of doing business that aims to help small farmers and artisans around the world achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability.

How does Fair Trade affect our life as Catholics? The following from Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, demonstrates how Fair Trade practices align with Catholic Social Teaching:

Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Human dignity comes directly from God - The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the person is the foundation of a moral society - Fair Trade recognizes this by creating economically just, long-term relationships between diverse people from all over the world.

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our faith tradition instructs us to put the poor and vulnerable first - Fair Trade recognizes the dignity of the poor and vulnerable - When you choose Fair Trade products you are exercising a preferential option for the poor.

Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: Work is more than a way to earn a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation - Fair Trade promotes the dignity of workers by ensuring fair wages and by helping vulnerable producers maintain their livelihoods.

Stewardship of God’s Creation: We show respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation - Care for the earth is a requirement of our faith - Treating the environment with respect and ensuring that resources will be available for future generations is a core principle of Fair Trade.

Rights and Responsibilities: Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency - We all have the responsibility to work for economic justice - Fair Trade is a tangible way to respect the right to work of the poor and vulnerable.

Community and Participation: In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred, but also social - People have a right and a duty to participate in society and to seek the common good - When you buy Fair Trade products you are participating in the economy in a morally just way.

Solidarity: We are all part of one human family - whatever our national, racial, religious, economic or ideological differences - By purchasing Fair Trade products we stand in solidarity with the farmers and artisans that produce Fair trade goods by supporting their economic livelihoods.

How can you support Fair Trade farmers and artisans? You can make a difference, coffee cup by coffee cup, chocolate bar by chocolate bar, by looking for fair trade certified products at your grocery store or favorite coffee shop. As the fair trade movement grows, so does the demand for fair trade products. Fair trade products are not limited to coffees and chocolates. SERVV, in partnership with CRS, is one organization that offers a large selection of Fair Trade gift, home décor, and fashion items that are made by artisans around the world.

Fair Trade products have been a part of our SJV community since our first Fair Trade sales in December, 2008. Fair Trade coffees, teas, chocolates, and olive oil are sold 3 times a year. Look for upcoming sales in December, February, and September. Fair trade coffees and teas are also served at parish functions. 

Information for this article comes from crsfairtrade.org. You can find more information about Fair Trade online at crsfairtrade.org, serrv.org, and equalexchange.org.

Oakland Diocese Fair Trade Information