World?s First Fair Trade Town

| July 21, 2003

Garstang, a small town in Lancashire, England, carries the distinction of being the first officially designated fair trade town in the world. In fact, it came up with the idea and declared itself as such three years ago. Following its lead, the Fairtrade Foundation launched a Goals and Action guide for other cities, towns, and businesses that want to follow suit.

Writing in The Guardian, John Vidal notes that ?90 of the town?s 100 businesses, both its schools, its local council, its chamber of commerce, its churches, garages, and hairdressers all sell or actively promote food that pays a fair price to small farmers in developing countries.? Garstang is so committed to the idea and practice of fair trade that it has paired itself with a ?twin? cocoa producing community in Ghana in order to learn more about their challenges, and plans are in the works for a resident exchange program between the two communities.

The Fair Trade Organization believes that ?everyone has the right to a decent existence, irrespective of the color of their skin, their origins, and the country in which they live.? Fair trade food includes produce, coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate, and other products grown and produced in developing nations. The fair trade mark is a symbol that farmers were given a fair price for their products. Without fair trade, millions of farmers are forced to trade at a loss. ?People are suffering to provide us with cheap luxuries like tea, chocolate, and fruit,? says Bruce Crowther, a leader in Garstang?s fair trade movement. ?When we look back on slavery we can see it was deeply immoral. It?s just the same today.?

?Can fairly traded foods ever go mainstream?? Vidal asks. ?Those who think they can point to the fact that organic food also rumbled along the bottom of retailers? priorities for years before taking off exponentially.? Other cities are beginning to follow Garstang?s lead and, perhaps in the near future, awareness and demand for fair trade products will cause a burgeoning market.
?Anne Geske

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