Flowers for my Fair (Trade) Valentine
How are you celebrating heart day? Perhaps your sweetheart would appreciate a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. But stop and consider this: Valentine's Day also provides you a great opportunity to put the concept of fair trade into practice. When you make your purchase decision, make sure that the product has fair trade certification. This primarily ensures that the grower of the cocoa, sugar and flowers were paid a fair price for their products.
So instead of buying the commercial brand of boxed chocolates, you might consider purchasing the special products offered on this day by these popular providers of fair trade chocolate Divine, Equal Exchange or SERRV.
What about flowers? Most of us are already aware about fairly traded chocolates, coffee and tea, but fair-trade flowers are not as widely known. Fair-trade flowers have only been available in the U.S. since August 2007, due primarily to the efforts of Transfair USA.
For flower farmers, fair trade certification means more than just a fair wage. It requires that farms provide employee benefits including 12 weeks maternity leave and child care. Read more about the growers.
But the wages are important too. Did you know that for every fair-trade flower sold by the Hoja Verde flower farm in Ecuador, the cooperative is able send one more child to school? Most fair-trade flowers come from three countries: Ecuador, Colombia and Kenya. See list of producers
Where can you buy Fair Trade flowers? Here is a partial list of online retailers and supermarket chains nationwide.
The concept of fair-trade flowers is catching on rapidly. For Alaina Paradise, who owns Albuquerque-based One World Flowers, this was a very busy week. "Valentine's Day has been absolutely outstanding for business," said Ms. Paradise, whose company ran out of inventory a few days before Feb. 14.
Ms. Paradise, who started her local operation in March 2008 as a licensee of Transfair, offers a wide variety of bouquets and other products to her customers.
"We're excited because this holiday is making such an impact on the farms," she said. "When the farms are doing well, they're able to employ more people and sustain the fair-trade business model.
So as you consider what to give your sweetheart this Valentine's day, also keep in mind the countless workers who labored growing the products that the two of you will enjoy together on this special day.
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