Archive - September 2010

FTJ at the Fair Trade Futures Conference!

Fair Trade Futures ConferenceSo exciting to be at the Fair Trade Futures Conference, joining over 780 fair trade artisans, farmers, advocates, retailers, and wholesalers from around the globe. It was inspiring to be among so many people committed to a fair trade world based on transparency, respect, and justice, as well as a willingness to self-critique where the movement may be falling short.

The stars of the conference were the farmers and artisans who came from South America, Africa, and Asia to tell their personal stories. It was the first opportunity for many of us to meet them directly, and there was strong support for their voices to be heard more loudly within the certification process.

Fair Trade Judaica was the only visible Jewish presence at the conference, and we were greeted with much support and enthusiasm, and many opportunities for collaboration. There was a lot of interest in developing the fair trade Judaica niche.

One of the highlights was being able to speak directly with artisans and fair trade organizations about creating new fair trade Judaica products – lots of interest in helping us build the movement. Keep your eyes open over the next year for these new Judaica products:

  • Wire and bead kippahs for women from Guatemala
  • Small wooden dreidels from India
  • Beautiful baskets made from recycled metal
  • Bracelets made from recycled paper in Africa

Fair Trade Judaica Fair

Only a month away from the first ever Fair Trade Judaica Fair, to be held in Berkeley, CA on October 17. This will be the largest gathering of all the fair trade Judaica products currently available in the marketplace, including challah and matzah covers, kippahs, tallitot, home decorations, menorahs, cards, jewelry and kosher chocolate and coffee! The Judaica products embody traditional cultural and artistic designs from countries in Latin and South American, Asia, and Africa.

Imagine praying in a kippah or tallit handmade by an artisan who you know was paid a fair wage for their work? Or knowing that the jewelry you are wearing may have helped a young child go to school?

If you’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area, please let friends and family know about this wonderful opportunity!

Fair Trade Futures Conference

Looking forward to attending the Fair Trade Futures Conference beginning Friday September 10 – a three day opportunity to meet with over 700 people from around the world, committed to the principles and practice of fair trade. Attendees will include producer groups (like Fair Trade Group Nepal), fair trade organizations here in the U.S. who represent some of the artisans making fair trade Judaica products, fair trade umbrella groups like Fair Trade Federation and Transfair USA, student campaigns for fair trade, and advocacy organizations like Fair Trade Judaica.

I’m hoping we will find a few producer groups who will be interested in working with FTJ to design and produce new Judaica products, meet fair trade retailers who are interested in adding Judaica items to their inventory, and talk about expanding the range of Kosher fair trade food products!

Stay tuned for a report back from the Conference!

Fair Trade Rosh Hashanah

Chiapas Collective BeekeepersOne of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions is dipping apples into honey (and eating them!) as a symbol of starting the Jewish new year with sweetness. Last year I found out about fair trade kosher honey from Wholesome Sweeteners, and knowing that the farmers were paid fair wages and that they were able to preserve a long community tradition, made the enjoyment of the apples and honey even sweeter. Here’s some info on their story:

High in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico 46 beekeepers have formed a Fair Trade Certified cooperative, and the whole community prospers from the honey harvest. The hives have been tended by Mayan communities for generations, creating meaningful employment. The hives are isolated, deep within organic perimeters, and the bees forage only on native plants—wildflowers and, for one brief week every year, organically cultivated coffee blooms. As the season progresses and the flowers change, the honeys’ character changes too, deepening in color and flavor.

Before they formed a fair trade cooperative, middlemen, or “coyotes,” took a majority of the beekeepers’ income. Now, there are no middlemen involved and the cooperative works autonomously and directly with customers. The beekeepers are able to improve standards for their families (like sending their children to school), their communities and protect precious rainforests and habitat.

It’s a win-win for farmer and consumer alike.