Thanksgiving seems to be one of the most overlooked federal holidays on the American calendar. (Notice I said federal holidays. Days like National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day do not count and probably deserve to be overlooked.) There are barely any movies about it that people even remember and definitely nothing that could be considered a classic. One of the maybe three songs about the topic that may be recognizable (that I have only ever even heard because it was in an episode of The West Wing) was written 421 years ago.
It’s definitely not Christmas and it doesn’t have the costume- or candy- related excitement of Halloween, which may be the reason most stores go from selling plastic spiders and cauldrons to plastic snow and trees in the course of a day. But Thanksgiving is important because being thankful is important. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Gratitude is basically magic.” And I am all about celebrating gratitude, or anything else really, with food, but it doesn’t seem like eating to the point of discomfort should be the only thing we focus on. This year you can give thanks while celebrating with food with a Fair-Trade Thanksgiving.
When you have a Fair-Trade Thanksgiving, it’s a way of saying thank you to the people who put the food on your plate. You don’t have to catch the next flight to Colombia to personally thank the person who picked your coffee beans; you can thank them with your purchase.
Universal fair-trade standards ensure that farmers and workers are paid a fair and consistent price for their crops and labor in markets that can be unstable or are poorly regulated. The standards also guarantee appropriate working conditions, prohibit child labor and protect worker safety on the job. In addition, a percentage of a fair trade product’s sales go into a community account. Workers vote on how to spend the money, usually opting to fund community development projects like building schools or medical clinics in their communities.
It may seem like buying a cup of fair-trade certified sugar instead of another kind may not make a difference, but when you consider that it’s the biggest food-making holiday of the year, making your dish part of a Fair-Trade Thanksgiving can make a huge impact. Just like gratitude is a small thing that yields big rewards in our lives, having fair-trade standards is a simple idea with profound results. Food co-ops are all about empowering people to make a difference in the world with their food choices, that’s why you’ll find a great selection of fair trade fare at Good Foods.
Many products naturally lend themselves to a Fair-Trade Thanksgiving menu. Your Co-op has certified staples like olive oil, sugar, molasses, chocolate chips, cocoa, coffee, tea and vegetable shortening. They’re easy to find- just look for the pink circle on the shelf tag with “FT” in the middle or the official Fair-Trade Certified logo on the package.
Depending on the crowd, fair trade products can make for good dinner conversation as well as good dinner. Many of the foods and drinks that are certified and many of the people who are responsible for getting them to you have an interesting story behind them. (Like this story of a Wisconsin food co-op worker taking a trip to see where cacao comes from.) A Fair-Trade Thanksgiving can be observed even if it’s not actually Thanksgiving, and it can change lives especially when you get in that mindset every day.
That’s certainly something to celebrate and be thankful for!