US stores take centre stage for national Fairtrade month campaign
Fairtrade America has launched its second annual, national campaign highlighting how buying its certified products can make a powerful difference to nearly two million farmers- including cocoa workers, participating across the movement’s global schemes, writes Neill Barston.
‘Choose Fairtrade. Choose the world you want.’ campaign features murals in three major US cities — Austin, Minneapolis, and Tacoma, Washington that connect stories of the people who produce the things we enjoy every day, such as cocoa, bananas, coffee and more, who stand to significantly benefit from the additional advice and support provided by the international movement seeking to deliver sustainable supply chains.
Now in its second year, the campaign, marking Fairtrade month, brought inspiring murals to Denver, Los Angeles and Nashville in 2020. Throughout October, consumers can participate in online giveaways and learn more about the organisation via educational resources at choosefairtrade.org. Underlining the organisation’s impact in 2019, its dedicated product premium funds contributed more than $228M to farming communities.
When shoppers see the Fairtrade America label on a product, it means farmers were fairly compensated and the ingredients were sourced in compliance with the organisation’s rigorous gender equality, fair wage, climate change and child labor standards.America partnered with notable mural artists and key retailers in three major metropolitan cities where mural art is already a prominent part of the culture. Each mural features real farmers and a key benefit of choosing the movement’s series of products.
While the organisation noted that consumer awareness and purchase intent of its products is increasing in the U.S., this campaign is intended to reach more Americans and educate them about the value of purchasing such certified products.
“We are thrilled to continue a campaign that beautifully celebrates and honours the hardworking farmers and workers who produce the goods we enjoy everyday, while overcoming tremendous challenges to do so,” said Peg Willingham, Executive Director of Fairtrade America.
“We hope this positive expression of Fairtrade’s mission inspires shoppers to give more thought to the people behind the foods they purchase, and opt for Fairtrade certified products when possible. Choosing Fairtrade certified products actively supports initiatives that fight poverty, foster gender equality and more across the globe.”
The key campaign murals
Firstly, the Johnny Gabriel Navas Aquim Mural, by Reggie LeFlore, located at the Twin Cities Co-op Partners’ Wedge Co-op, Minneapolis (main image) This work is located at the Twin Cities Co-op Partners’ (TCCP) Wedge Co-op. TCCP was excited to partner with Fairtrade America because of their shared values, including supporting farmers and educating community members about the importance of equity for the people producing our food and sustainability for our planet.
Local mural artist Reggie LeFlore captured Johnny Gabriel Navas Aquim, a 26 year-old, third-generation, small-scale banana farmer in Ecuador who has implemented aquaculture techniques to farm more sustainably. Johnny is a proud member of the Fairtrade certified AsoGuabo Cooperative, a grassroots organisation of banana farmers committed to improving their quality of life. Reggie is inspired by Johnny and his fellow farmers who work hard to take care of their communities. Bananas from AsoGuabo are sold, in part, through Equal Exchange, a key vendor partner of TCCP, once again taking the story from farm to store via these murals.
In Tacoma (above), Fairtrade America partnered with Central Co-op, a full-service grocery store that empowers its customers to make ethical choices when it comes to food purchases, to create a mural featuring a Fairtrade cocoa farmer. Local artist Mari Shibuya portrayed
Carmen Mueses, a member of a Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperative, CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic. Cocoa from CONACADO makes its way into a variety of Fairtrade certified items, including chocolate from Washington’s beloved local purveyor, Fran’s Chocolate.
Carmen has demonstrated resilience and ingenuity to make a living from her cocoa crops, and even started a small business selling sweets and liqueurs made with her cocoa pods and coffee beans to diversify her income. Mari’s mural is inspired by the strength and determination of the female leaders in farming communities, like Carmen.
Fairtrade America joined with the Wheatsville Food Co-op, voted ‘Best Neighbourhood Grocery ’ by the Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll for eleven years running, to commission a mural by local artist J Muzacz (above) This mural celebrates three female farmers and cooperative leaders who grow cocoa used in Fairtrade certified goods, including Tony’s Chocolonely bars available at the local Co-op.
Sarah Larweh is a cocoa farmer and board member of her cooperative in Ghana where she works to address and resolve instances of child labor, an injustice that is rooted in poverty. A cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire, Eugenie Lago leads a women’s association that helps members diversify their crops to increase profits and alleviate poverty within the community. Lastly, Assata Doumbia, cocoa farmer and president of her cocoa cooperative, has led her cooperative to become one of the top three in Ivory Coast. J hopes the strength, humanity and drive of the farmers depicted inspires current and future generations to shop ethically and sustainably.