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Our Opinion: Fair trade: Commerce with a mission

Fair trade may be characterized as commerce with a mission.

Purchasing a pound of coffee can help an orphanage in Guatemala. Buying hand-crafted jewelry can aid impoverished communities and children in Africa.

Venues for fair trade are growing in Jefferson City and include churches, community centers and businesses.

Fair trade is defined by the Web site, Wikipedia, as “an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability.”

In addition to elevated social and environmental standards, fair trade involves returning a portion of the sales to the artisans — often from third world countries — who created them. Fair trade products frequently include hand-crafted items, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.

Among local examples:

• The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship offers fair-trade “Good Coffee for a Good Cause” at events. Kath Connor, fair trade organizer, said: “We can do the right thing and have good coffee, too.”

• A fair trade store at Common Ground, a community center at the corner of Atchison Street and Clark Avenue, has been organized by First Presbyterian Church. “Fair trade is an opportunity in a direct way to assist people who have so little,” said David Henry, associate pastor.

• Three Story Coffee, which specializes in fair trade, recently was opened in the 100 block of East Dunklin Street by Tony Anderson. He plans to share the stories of Third-World growers and said: “I hope it makes people look at a cup of coffee a little differently.”

Defining fair trade as commerce with a mission also has a literal interpretation because, for a number of area churches, fair trade is an outgrowth of relationships forged through mission trips.

Fair trade also is commerce with a conscience. Aiding the impoverished while insisting on social and environmental standards is commendable activity.

Ultimately, fair trade is best characterized by its description adjective. It is fair.

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