On A Fair Trade Mission
Many of my readers know that I’m from New England, and have a special “connection” with the State of Vermont.
My charming son-in-law is originally from Vermont, and his family still lives up there. When he married my daughter, their wedding was held over a Columbus Day weekend in Stowe.
Although I’ve never been (yet) to tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory, I hope to on one of my next visits.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream stores are an institution here in New England, and I’ve visited several – Connecticut has one in Ledyard; I’ve been to ones in Montpelier, Vermont; Newport, Rhode Island; Ogunquit, Maine; and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I’ve sampled so many flavors – they’re all my favorite, but I especially like their waffle cones!
Of course, when I’m not able to get to a shop, I’m able to enjoy my favorite flavors right from my grocery store freezer case!
I’d like to share with you some important information regarding Ben & Jerry’s commitment to Free Trade. Last month, October was Free Trade Month.
On A Fair Trade Mission
At Ben & Jerry’s, we make it our top priority to make the best ice cream, lead with our values, and do as much good for the world as possible. So, in 2003, we began working towards a partnership with Transfair USA, a non-profit organization in the U.S. that certifies products as Fair Trade. In late 2004, we were finally able to dig our spoon into the Fair Trade realm, and began sourcing our coffee beans from the Huatusco co-op in Oaxaca, Mexico. But hold on to your pints- there’s more! In early 2007, Ben & Jerry’s began using Fair Trade certified vanilla beans as well for its regular vanilla ice cream and Fair Trade certified cocoa for its regular chocolate ice cream. Today, Ben & Jerry’s sources from several Fair Trade co-ops around the world.
What is “Fair Trade,” exactly?
One of the most well-known components of Fair Trade is that farmers are paid a livable wage. Paying a fair price for Fair Trade Certified goods empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and acquiring the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. But did you know that there are other aspects as well?
Environmental sustainability: Farmers are not allowed to use harmful agrochemicals and GMOs. Preservation of the ecosystem surrounding these farms is very important: sustainable irrigation and crop rotation methods must be used, waste must properly be handled, and planting in virgin forests is prohibited. Also, conservation areas must be identified and left uncultivated.
Community development: Farmers invest their premiums in social and business developments, such as scholarship programs.
Safe working conditions: There is freedom of association between workers, and absolutely no child labor is allowed.
Direct purchasing: Those using FT products purchase directly from the suppliers, eliminating the middlemen usually involved in trade. This, in turn, empowers farmers to develop the ability to compete in an international market.
Democratically-handled revenue: Farmers and their workers work together in deciding how to invest their revenues.
Ndali Vanilla – an Example to Follow
In 1999, Lulu Sturdy left her home country of Britain to take over her uncle’s 1,000 acre tropical farm in the Ndali volcanic fields of Uganda. Though this move was a big change for Lulu, the results were well worth it. For the past ten years, Lulu has worked with approximately 1,000 native farmers and taught them how to grow vanilla of an exceptional quality and the skills needed to run the business.
By investing the premiums that the farmers are paid for their vanilla back into community developments, the local areas have improved dramatically.
When Lulu came to visit Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont, we learned just how important Fair Trade is to the local community of Ndali and have been working hard to get the word out about Fair Trade and tell the inspirational story of Ndali Vanilla.
Ben & Jerry’s is proud to support Ndali Vanilla, the farmers, and Lulu. Her inspirational story is incredibly powerful and the people of Uganda prosper through her program. Ben & Jerry’s has sourced from Ndali Vanilla since 2007 and encourages other companies and consumers to buy Fair Trade as well. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream wouldn’t be the same without it! You can raise two scoops to that!
Lulu Sturdy loves sharing her story and has made herself available (all the way from Africa) for interviews. You can also go to http://www.ndali.net/ for more information on the yummy vanilla that goes into our ice cream & how you too can get your hands on some!
More to Come…
Ben & Jerry’s currently has four Fair Trade certified ice cream flavors available in pints. They are: Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, and (the newest addition) Chocolate Macadamia. Additionally, Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz and regular ‘ol Coffee are also Fair Trade certified, and are exclusively sold in scoop shops.
Just recently, Ben & Jerry’s held the “Do the World a Flavor” contest. The contest asked fans to create the next Fair Trade flavor, and allowed ice cream lovers in 15 countries where Ben & Jerry’s is sold to submit their own ideas online. Toni Gunnison was chosen as the lucky US finalist, along with 15 other finalists selected from each participating country. All of the finalists will travel to the Dominican Republic to visit a Fair Trade cocoa co-op and see what Fair Trade is all about. There, the grand prize winner will be announced and his/her flavor will appear in scoop shops in 2010. Stay tuned!
There’s more to this than meets the eye! Fair Trade is helping so many underdeveloped communities, like the one surrounding Ndali Vanilla. Check out http://www.transfairusa.org/ to learn more about Fair Trade (and just how much it really does for the environment) or go to www.benjerry.com and read all about our Fair Trade adventures and our other values-led ingredients.
To learn more about Ben & Jerry’s other social mission campaigns and activism, you can also check out our SEAR reports (Social and Environmental Assessment Report.) Happy ice cream!
© Moomettes Magnificents
Opinions are my own.
Moomette’s Magnificents is hosting a Giveaway Contest! For a chance to win, there will be one (1) winner of a Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” T-Shirt (Size Medium) and coupons good for One Free Pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt or Sorbet.
Please include a way of contacting you. Should you be the contest winner, this information may be shared with the contest sponsor in order to send your prize.
This contest will run until November 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm. EST
Main Rule: (remember if this rule is not followed then no others will count)
a) Sign up for my free Newsletter Updates to my blog through my e-mail Feedblitz link (on the top of my right column or let me know if you already are, in a separate comment) AND
b) Visit Ben & Jerry’s and leave a comment about what you like best about their site and another product you’d like to try.
For Additional Entries, check out my Contest Entry Rules.