As we move into the beautiful fall season here in Vermont, there is much to celebrate. From a bountiful local harvest to the changing leaves and cool air, it’s clear that fall has arrived. In addition to the kick-off to foliage and hiking season in our state, October is a celebration of two things near and dear to us: Cooperatives and Fair Trade. October is both National Cooperative Month and National Fair Trade Month, giving us a whole lot to celebrate here in the store!
Did you know that there are over 40,000 cooperative businesses in this country alone with over 350 million members? In Vermont alone, there are 15 food co-ops with over 42,000 members. These co-ops collectively employ over 800 people, generate over $133 million in revenue annually, and contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to community organizations each year.
With this year’s theme for National Cooperative Month as “Co-ops Commit” it’s clear that these co-ops (just a small percentage of the national total) have committed to living out the cooperative principles and contributing to their communities.
In a similar vein, Fair Trade is a commitment to both farmers and consumers—a commitment of a fair price to farmers and a commitment to consumers that the product they are purchasing adheres to “rigorous social, economic and environmental standards.” Fair Trade is an alternative trading approach focused on establishing long-term relationships with small-scale farmers and providing both a minimum price and a premium that is used to invest in community development projects.
When purchasing Fair Trade products, consumers can feel confident that the product was produced in accordance with Fair Trade Principles including payment of a fair price, ensuring good working conditions, and respect for the environment among others.
Here at the co-op we carry over 300 certified Fair Trade products from bananas and roses in our Produce department to coffee and tea in Bulk, soaps and lotions in our Wellness department and even wine in our Beer & Wine department! To learn more about our Fair Trade products, check out our brochure here and swing by the store this month for Fair Trade demos.