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Now that the month is nearly over, I've just become aware that October is Fair Trade Month. I can't tell you how tricky it is to keep up with everything going on in our ever-connected world.

Photo by Dave Anderson

Buying Fair Trade products is one of the ultimate ways to vote with your dollar. Yes, you will pay a premium price for that banana or bag of sugar. But that premium price not only pays a fairer share to the farmers who grew the products, it also allows the supported communities to pay for social, economic and environmental development projects through a community premium fund. You can read more about the impacts Fair Trade has on farming communities around the world on the Fair Trade USA website.

Heifer has a number of farmers around the world growing Fair Trade products. I had the pleasure of meeting Wilson Sanchez, an Ecuadorian farmer growing Fair Trade bananas back in August. His agroecological farm was amazing. And we've partnered with Green Mountain Coffee for quite some time on projects with Fair Trade coffee growers. Heifer's role with these farming communities is to help them diversify their diets and incomes, because even Fair Trade farmers benefit from growing more than single crops of bananas, coffee, sugar or the like.

Photo by Dave Anderson

The problem I'm finding in my personal life, however, is the low accessibility of Fair Trade options in my local grocery store. Here in Little Rock, Arkansas, my best bet on finding Fair Trade products is to go to Whole Foods. Problem is, the overall cost of shopping there makes it cost prohibitive to do my entire Sunday grocery trip there, and it's completely out of my way for a supplemental grocery trip. What I need is for my neighborhood grocery store to carry more Fair Trade products.

So here's what I've done. You can do it, too. I just submitted an online comment to Kroger, the grocery store where I do most of my grocery shopping. If your grocery store has a website, chances are you can submit a comment online. If not, this would be a pretty easy thing to hand deliver to your store manager. Here's what I wrote:

October is Fair Trade Month. I'd like to request that my local Kroger store (Beechwood in Little Rock, Arkansas) offer more Fair Trade options. The Fair Trade label assures a product that is socially and environmentally sustainable, and that is something I as a Kroger customer believe in. Specifically, I would like to see Fair Trade options for bananas and other fruits, cocoa and chocolate products, coffee, honey, herbs and spices, nuts and oilseeds, sugar and tea. 

When I want to purchase these types of products, I am currently forced to take my business elsewhere; namely to Whole Foods. Kroger is my preferred store, but often my desire for Fair Trade products overrides my preference. It would be fantastic not to have to make that decision, to have a wide range of Fair Trade products consistently available at Kroger.

Thank you for your consideration,

Brooke Edwards

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.

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