Humanity Runs on Coffee

What everyone must know about fairly certified coffee and how you can help. 

What is Fair Trade? 

On September 29th, millions of people across the world gathered together in public or on social media to celebrate National Coffee Day. More than 400 million cups of coffee are consumed everyday and our addiction is only growing. If one morning, everyone went out and bought fairly certified coffee, we would drive at least $2 million back to coffee farmers. Coffee is a huge staple in almost everyone’s life. Not realizing that the coffee industry is struggling, one day purchasing coffee is not going to be an easy task. But all you have to do is drink a cup of Fairly Certified coffee.  

Fair Trade is the principle that creates opportunities for disadvantaged producers, ensures no child labor, ensures fair payment to the producers, and transparency and accountability are promoted.  It is essentially an agreement by a seller to pay fair wages and provide good working conditions to those producing goods in developing countries. 

Here are three companies that support fair trade coffee. 

Green Mountain  


The Green Mountain offers the largest selection of Fair Trade Certified coffee in the United States. What began in 1981 in a small café in Waitsfield, Vermont, roasting and selling coffee. Soon demand for their coffee to be supplied at local restaurants increased. This coffee comes from parts of the world where coffee beans are grown in excellent condition such as Kenya and Ethiopia. Green Mountain’s message about Fair Trade is as follows “we are dedicated to purchasing high quality coffee while investing in quality of life for farmers today.” 

Equal Exchange  


Equal Exchange had one specific goal in mind when they started running their organization; what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? Equal Exchange was solely built upon Fair Trade ideals where all of their products ranging from coffee, tea, and chocolate, support the sustainability of farmers. What kickstarted this organization is the coffee they imported from Nicaragua. In 1986, Reagan’s administration placed an embargo on all products from Nicaragua and importing coffee from here would demonstrate solidarity and challenge old US trade policies. 

Burlap and Bean


In 2006, Media PA, became America’s first Fair Trade Town. This town was committed to the promotion of Fair Trade certified goods. Located in Newtown Sqaure, PA, lies a gem: Burlap and Bean Coffee where 100% of the coffee they source is Organic and Fair Trade Certified. They have a wonderful selection of specialty drinks, snacks, and baked goods provided by local bakeries. Burlap and Bean Coffee is famously known for their heartwarming hospitality, live entertainment and of course a nice cup of coffee.  

How you can show support 

  • In honor of National Coffee Day, upload your favorite cup of  Fairly Certified coffee with the hashtag #JustOneCup to show support for coffee farmers 
  • Read and watch videos about what Fair Trade is and how it can positively affect the environment. 
  • Subscribe to your favorite Fairly Certified Coffee Companies and start drinking their coffee 
  • Follow social media pages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and share their posts to reach a bigger audience 

2019-20: Fair Trade Year in Review

WE ARE Fair Trade campus! Penn State Brandywine has been a Fair Trade university since 2012 and WE ARE still working strong to support Fair Trade. It’s been several years since this website was last updated, and here is a recap of Fair Trade activities that happened during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Fair Trade has a special importance at Penn State Brandywine. First, our university is located in Media, PA, the first Fair Trade town in the United States. Second, Penn State Brandywine is the first and only Fair Trade University campus in the Penn State system.

Currently, Fair Trade is part of the Sustainability Committee on campus. This 2019-2020 year Dr. Mark Boudreau was the chair of the Sustainability Committee, and Dr. Samantha Pezzimenti and myself, Prof. Zoia Pavlovskaia, were members of the Fair Trade sub-committee.

I, Professor Pavlovskaia, joined Penn State Brandywine as a Lecturer in Business in August 2019 and I am a new Fair Trade representative for our university. I first learned about Fair Trade as an undergraduate student by traveling to El Salvador many years ago, and I have carried my passion through the years to now teach students about it. I am also involved locally with the Media Fair Trade Committee which recently featured Penn State Brandywine’s Fair Trade story in a blog post on their website.

To keep a Fair Trade designation, our university is required to host at least two Fair Trade events per semester. In Fall 2019, we hosted our annual Fair Trade banana and chocolate chip pancake breakfast, had a Fair Trade speaker presentation, and were part of the Destress Fest during finals week. In Spring 2020, we had a Fair Trade table at the MLK event and the Valentine’s Day event where students signed cards for farmers in Ecuador. All events were open to everyone on campus. For majority of events we partnered with other clubs and organizations on campus such as MarComm Club, BEAST, cafeteria, and the campus library. The Spring 2020 semester was interrupted with the COVID-19 virus and no events were hosted during the second half of the semester when classes were held online.

In addition to events, we distributed “For A Better World” free publication around campus; developed Fair Trade signs for the drinks cooler in the cafeteria; displayed a large Fair Trade banners around campus to educate about Fair Trade during the Fair Trade month of October 2019; participated in the Equal Exchange Fundraiser and in Virtual 2020 National Conference; and, lastly, we had  Elizabeth Killough of Media Fair Trade as our Fall 2019 commencement speaker.

We are looking forward to next year to host some annual events and new ones!

Thrilled to take position as Spring Fair Trade intern.

Hello! My name is Connor Harootunian, and I will be the new Fair Trade intern this upcoming Spring season. I am very excited yet motivated to take on Lisa’s role as intern. Warmest regards to Lisa, wishing her a successful future. Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and is looking forward to promoting Fair Trade advocacy!

– Contributed by Connor Harootunian, Fair Trade Intern

Warmest Regards for Fair Trade Trailblazers

Thank you all for this Fair Trade experience and I wish you the best in helping spread Fair Trade advocacy. My favorite thing to take away as a Fair Trade Intern is finding my career path. I would like to continue to find ways to help the greater good and have become passionate in speaking for those who may not have voices. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and remember to choose Fair Trade.

Now, I would like to pass on the position to Connor Harootunian, the new spring Fair Trade Student Intern.  Best of luck!

Contributed by Fair Trade Student Intern, Lisa Chun

Connecting Coffee Farmers and Consumers Around the World


I would like to thank everyone who showed up to our “Connected by Coffee” documentary event. We had plenty of yummy treats and beverages to satisfy any mouth. (And it was all Fair Trade!)

20141211_112903 20141211_11284320141211_112937

It was truly inspiring to see the lives that were touched by this Fair Trade movement. I was shocked to hear about the devastating threats to coffee farms from coffee rust.

“Coffee rust is caused by a fungus which causes powdery orange spots on leaves. The infected leaves drop from the coffee plant too soon. The coffee rust weakens the coffee plant, reduces yield and eventually kills it.” (Source)

Not many people realize the obstacles that coffee farmers face. But it’s the dedicated Fair Traders like you who can make a difference. Amazingly enough, Fair Trade sticks by all the hardships that farmers must endure which is what makes this organization great. I hope many viewers were motivated by this documentary and continue to choose Fair Trade and support our cause.

For more information, visit the Connected by Coffee website.

Contributed by Fair Trade Student Intern, Lisa Chun

The Dark Side of Chocolate Documentary

Fair Trade Trailblazers had the opportunity to show The Dark Side of Chocolate to our campus this month. The documentary recorded the truths of cocoa plantations and children trafficking in Ghana and Ivory Coast. It was heartbreaking to see children lost and confused as they are manipulated by human traffickers. Hopefully this documentary brought more people to realize the important of choosing Fair Trade. It was truly inspirational when they displayed this documentary in front of Nestle Headquarters.

These are some of the candy bars that were distributed at the event. Equal Exchange is Fair Trade Certified and its products contain organic ingredients.

Contributed by Lisa Chun, Student Intern

Recap of September events

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but I hope you are all in touch with our social media platforms. Because that’s where all the daily updates are happening! Click the Twitter and Facebook icons on the top right corner of this page–if you haven’t already done so–and follow us. So far, this semester has been flying by, and our club has already completed its assigned campaign initiative through events we participated in this past month. Here is an overview of what we did and what we have accomplished.

Penn State Brandywine Club Fair – #FairChocolate Photo Contest

We were able to recruit new members and reach out to our fellow student body on our Fair Trade campaign. In doing so, we were also able to snap some pictures of them enjoying Fair Trade chocolate and participate in this year’s #FairChocolate contest. Take a look at our happy students!

Penn State Brandywine Students

Penn State Brandywine Student

(more pictures can be found on our Twitter page!)

Constitution Day/Battle of the Bands – Penn State Brandywine Civic and Community Engagement

At this event, Civic Engagement collaborated with Fair Trade Trailblazers to bring an all-American celebration for Constitution day. Students munched on Fair Trade candy bars while listening to a band of our school’s students jam out. It was an exciting event and the candy bars really brought in new interest to our table.

Fair Trade Candy Bars

Overall, Fair Trade Trailblazers is working hard to wheel in students into acknowledging our campaign. Tomorrow during Common Hour, Fair Trade Trailblazers will be hosting our first meeting at 208 Tomeszko. Please come join us in hopes of a productive semester of Fair Trade!

Contributed by Lisa Chun

Fair Trade Student Intern

20 Ways to #BeFair for Penn State Brandywine Students

1. Visit the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market.


2. Drink some coffee made with Fair Trade cocoa beans at your local cafes:

Coffee Beanery & Seven Stones Cafe, Media

Burlap and Bean Coffee, Newtown Square

Fennario Coffee, West Chester

Good Karma Cafe, 3 locations in Philadelphia (The Pine St. address is the closest to school)

3. Shop at supermarkets that sell Fair Trade products.

4. Purchase some Fair Trade chocolate at the Lion’s Den.

5. Stay updated on Fair Trade news.

6. Follow us and all your favorite Fair Trade advocates using social media.

7. Not a coffee drinker? Then try some Fair Trade Tea!

8.  When you shop at the King of Prussia mall, choose Fair Trade:

9. Wear sustainable FT fashion, like People Tree.

10. Show your Penn State pride with a t-shirt from Alta Garcia. (Found at our campus bookstore)

11. Be eco-friendly at school or in the office.

12. Don’t forget America’s First Fair Trade Town is just around the corner!

13. Commute to school and spread the word about Fair Trade at the same time.

14. Bake some brownies made with Fair Trade cocoa!

15. Watch Fair Trade Films 

16. Participate at on-campus Fair Trade events.

17. Buy a bar, give a bar.

18. Stay energized with Scheckter’s Organic Energy Beverages.

19. Switch your gifts to Fair Trade!

20. Finally, spread the Fair Trade campaign among your friends and family!

Why Fair Trade Chocolate is AWESOME

As I was searching the web, I came across a fantastic poster on Fair Trade Chocolate. See it for yourself:
Fair Chocolate

Once I saw this, I was curious in knowing the special stories behind some brands. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

Equal Exchange incorporates ties with small-scale cacao producers from different countries in South America. With the National Confederation of Dominican Cacao Producers (CONACADO) in Dominican Republic, the Fair Trade premiums have contributed to school supplies and scholarships for members’ children, paving roads, constructing wells, improving health clinics with medicine and doctors, and so much more.

Another Fair Trade brand is Divine Chocolate, a co-operative organization largely owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana. Divine Chocolate has helped the lifestyle of its workers by providing training and empowering female workers. Currently, the Divine Bicycle Challenge–which ends on June 19–initiates a new transportation movement for children of cocoa farmers in Ghana.

Click the image for more details.

With the help from one of the leading UK chocolate brands, Cadbury, the Fairtrade logo on these chocolate bars have become a huge success. As a result, solar energy has become a part of Ghanaian schools, mills, health clinics, and homes. Read the entire article here.


Fair Trade and its impact on chocolate is truly encouraging and enlightening the lives of our world cocoa community. All things chocolate, I can’t wait to enjoy a pint of Double Chocolate Fudge ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.


Always remember…
Keep Calm Fair Trade Chocolate



Contributed by Lisa Chun, Fair Trade Intern


Following the Footsteps of Trailblazing

Fair Trade Trailblazer Hi there! My name is Lisa Chun, and I will be the new student intern for summer and fall of 2014. I am super excited to be involved in this amazing campaign and hope to reach out to individuals who are curious about the Fair Trade movement.

For my first post, I sought out reasons why Fair Trade is genuine and truly beneficial for farmers. It was encouraging to find that “all (fair trade) labels massively improve conditions for the farmers.”  As stated by swissinfovideos in the YouTube video seen below, fair trade label farmers’ incomes increased by a whopping 30% compared to incomes of non-label farmers. You may already know that the label represents improved working conditions and provides fair wages for small-scale farmers. But if you would like to gain insight on a first-hand experience at a factory in eastern Uganda, Elen Jones has shared her perspective on Fairtrade benefits. Click here for the article: Why I’m sure Fairtrade delivers benefits to farmers by Elen Jones, Fair Trade Wales



Overall, I believe that Fair Trade is a trustworthy organization and I’m delighted to be a part of it. In my view, the benefits are for both the consumer and the producer, but Fair Trade underlines the importance of helping the producer. For the consumer, we can expect high quality goods which we know have been made using sustainable methods, thus creating a better community and environment in the long run.

Thank you for joining me on this Fair Trade journey and have a wonderful rest of the week! And a big thanks to Leshaun Warner who introduced me to Fair Trade and had me assimilated into our school’s Fair Trade campaign.



Contributed by Lisa Chun, Fair Trade Intern

Spring 2014 Trailblazers Farewell Post

After a year of interning for the Fair Trade Trailblazers, the time has come for me to pass on the torch of justice to the summer fair trade intern, Lisa Chun.

The experiences that I have had working for the Trailblazers, have taught me many lessons and provided me with much experience. Through the course of my internship, I was able to organize a variety of events on the Brandywine campus. One in particular was an Letter Writing event to congratulate the kids of the Walden school for being one of the first elementary schools to reach Fair Trade status. Many students, staff, and faculty came out to write letter of encouragement and to congratulate them on this huge accomplishment.

It has truly been an amazing experience to work along side my peers, faculty, and staff to advocate for a cause. I know as I move on to future endeavors I will carry with me the knowledge that I have gained from this internship and will continue to advocate for social justice issues.



                                                                                                                 – Gandhi

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Schools


Recently, Fair Trade Campaigns lunched its newest campaign – Fair Trade Schools.

“Fair Trade Schools will empower students, teachers and staff to drive demand for ethical consumption from the next generation…Fair Trade Schools will officially recognize K-12 institutions committed to educating students about Fair Trade, an economic system that ensures products were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment. Schools may choose to host educational events, or even source Fair Trade products like coffee, tea and bananas in the cafeteria, offices and other school outlets.” – Fair Trade Campaigns

There are three schools in Media, Pa that have successfully reached Fair Trade status: The Walden School in Media declared as the first Fair Trade School in the country, Media Elementary is now the first public elementary school to achieve Fair Trade status, and Penncrest High School in Media, PA just became the first Fair Trade public high school.


Way to go!!! Keep up the good work and lets continue to raise awareness about Fair Trade!


Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern 

Looking Fair Trade-themed letters from PSU Brandywine Students, Faculty, and Staff

The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade Trailblazers will be hosting two letter writing days for Absolutely Incredible Kid Day!!! “Absolutely Incredible Kid Day is a day designated to honor our nation’s youth. Adults and teens are asked to write letters of encouragement and inspiration. It is a simple, meaningful way to let youth know how much they are appreciated.” Please consider coming out on Monday March 17 (Common Hour Tomezsko Lounge) & Tuesday March 18 (Common Hour Lion’s Den) to written brief letters of encouragement to the next generation. For more information please contact, Leshaun Warner at Thank you!

paper image

 Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

International Women’s Day!!!


International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.”

“This year theme is Inspiring Change It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.”

International Women’s Day (Website)


“Fair Trade strives to help women realize their full potential and to get the respect in their communities that they deserve. Women hired on Fair Trade farms and plantations are guaranteed access to health care, certain job rights, and freedom from harassment so that women are able to play a strong role in their families and in their coops. Fair Trade certified farms have empowered women through opportunities for education, leadership roles, and scholarships so that girls can imagine a future where they can be their own boss.”

–  Fair Trade USA (Website)

Fair Trade is much more than just a label on a product, it’s a movement! Seeking to empower those that have been taken advantages of or given unequal opportunities. During this weekend choose Fair Trade Products to empower women and men across the world.

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern


While many of you are safely inside your home keeping warm and staying far away from the snow. What better way to spend your down time then making some delicious banana coconut chocolate almond bread. The recipe comes from Fair Trade USA who retrieved it from Barefoot & Chocolate.

Banana Coconut Chocolate Almond Bread made with Fair Trade Certified Ingredients


Preparation Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Mash up the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl.  Add the egg, sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, shredded coconut, and almonds. Blend until well mixed.  In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture in a few batches and mix until well blended.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the sides and bottom of a standard 4X8 bread pan. I like to leave the paper a little long so there is paper draping over the edges of the pan. This allows you to simply lift the loaf out of the pan once its cooled. Fit the parchment paper into the bread pan, creasing the paper to align with the seams of the pan. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan, lightly dust with flour. Pour in all the batter.  Dollop Almond-Coconut Chocolate Spread along the top of the loaf. Use a skewer to swirl the spread into the banana bread mixture until the spread is mostly covered by the batter.

Place the bread into the center of the oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 350F. Test the bread to ensure doneness by inserting a clean knife into the center. Keep in mind it will continue to cook bit after you take it out of the oven.


Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Cacao & Blueberry Oatmeal

In Punxsutawney, PA Groundhog Phil saw his shadow earlier today on February 2, 2014. According to legend, there are six more week of winter ahead this year. Unfortunately, this forecast is not surprising, but I believe anyone living one the east coast would agree that we would prefer spring to come sooner rather than later. Although, more snow is on its way tomorrow I have a simply recipe courtesy of Fair Trade USA that should make your mornings a lot better.

Makes 4 servings
Cooking + Preparation time: 12-15 minutes

4 cups of water
2 cups of rolled oats
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of Fair Trade Certified Casacao Cacao Powder 
½ cup of blueberries
½ teaspoon of Fair Trade Certified ground cinnamon
Almond, soy, rice, or regular milk (optional)

1. Combine water, oatmeal, and salt in a saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil; then lower heat and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until water has been reduced, or oatmeal has been cooked to the consistency of your liking (about 7-8 minutes).

3.Take oatmeal off the heat and stir in Casacao Cacao Powder (a little goes a long way!).

(Add the optional Soy, rice, almond milk)

4.Serve oatmeal in a bowl and add the blueberries and sprinkle ground cinnamon (equal parts per serving).

Add or substitute with other great fruits, such as bananas and strawberries for variety.


Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Book Review: Fair Food

Fair Trade Trailblazer Leshaun Warner shares her thoughts about the book Fair Food.

Hesterman, O. B. (2011). Fair food: growing a healthy, sustainable food system for all. New York: PublicAffairs. 290 pages. ISBN: 978-1-61039-006-4.

Oran B. Hesterman’s book, Fair Food, is a book that aims to foster the creation of a redesigned food system, one that is healthy for people, communities, and the environment. After discovering a good diet was able to soothe the symptoms of a disease he suffers from; Hesterman passion for good food was ignited. He devoted his entire career to ensure that good food was available and affordable for everyone. Hesterman has been in a variety of different careers to help educate and push for more sustainable food practices. He was a professor of agronomy at Michigan State University. While there he was also a consultant to the W.K Kellogg Foundation and later left academia to work as a full-time program director at the foundation. However, he saw that there was a hug problem with the food system in America. Hesterman left Kellogg to start Fair Food Network, a new institution committed to building a more just and sustainable food system.

Hesterman’s book outlines the problems of our current broken food system, gives solution to redesigning it, and provides a practical guide to how we can get involved in the cause. While there are many broken systems in America which are education, health care, energy, and the financial system redesigning our food system is key to help solving the rest. In order to comprehend how to fix a broken system you must first recognize what is wrong with it. Why the current system is no longer working and the difficulties that it’s producing. After we understand that we can move forward to finding the principles a fair food system should have. A Fair Food system should allow everyone to have equal access to healthy, safe, and fresh food. A system that is diverse from the food we grow to how we grow them and also diverse in economic and ownership structures. Lastly, a fair food system must be environmentally sustainable and economically viable. Then we must take action and like Hesterman’s said shift from a conscious consumers to engaged citizens.

Hesterman’s book has truly opened my eyes to the current situation of our food system. Although it is not a book completely about Fair Trade it is very much relevant to the movement. To truly comprehend the Fair Trade movement and what it is trying to accomplish you must understand the state of our current food system. Our food system is failing so many individuals and causing so many problems that no one is addressing. Hesterman’s book not only seeks to address those problems but also provide ways for anyone to get involved in the cause.

Review prepared by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Spring 2014

The Brandywine Campus opens it’s doors to welcome back its Students, Staff, and Faculty as a new semester commences. With that being said it is time for us to continue to push the Fair Trade Movement forward on the Brandywine Campus and in the surrounding area. Many people do not know the importance of Fair Trade or the positive impact its has, education is key, so remember to spread the word and be an example to those around you.


Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Hot & Cold Fair Trade Chocolate

Monday, December 2

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Common Building (first floor) in front of the Lion’s Pit, Penn State Brandywine 

Join The Penn State Fair Trade Trailblazers as we bring the Fall Semester to a close. We will be giving out FREE Fair Trade Hot Chocolate during the last weeks of classes!!! Also, don’t forget to stop pass the Lion’s Pit to purchase Fair Trade chocolate bars which goes great with Hot Chocolate!!!


Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Trailblazers updates

This past weekend the Laboratory for Civic Engagement and Fair Trade Trailblazers participated in Penn State Day which took place October 26, 2013. The event was full of games, music, food, and fun. Many Penn Staters, Alumni, and residents of the media community came out and join in the numerous festivities that took place on the Brandywine campus. We where able to advocate the need to Buy Fair, Be Fair in the closing days of Fair Trade Month. Image

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Trailblazers updates

The past two weeks the Fair Trade Trailblazers have been on the move. On October 9, 2013 the Trailblazers where in the Commons building during common hour advocating the need to Buy Fair, Be Fair during Fair Trade month.  They gave out free samples of Fair Trade chocolate to their fellow peers and showed them other Fair Trade products that can be found on and off campus. This event was a huge success helping many students gain a better understanding of Fair Trade.


The following week October 16, 2013 the Fair Trade Trailblazers moved to the Tomezsko Building during common hour. The Tomezsko Building is mostly dominated with Business course and many students that hang out here are business majors. Since Fair Trade will most directly affect/relate to most students in business professions. This week the Trailblazers wanted to know how many students actually know what Fair Trade is, and if they knew that the Brandywine campus is a Fair Trade University. Most students have heard about Fair Trade our at least talked about it within their classes, with few knowing that we where indeed a Fair Trade University. The Trailblazers where able to help students better understand what Fair Trade is all about while passing out beverages with Fair Trade ingredients.


This upcoming week the Fair Trade Trailblazers will be participating in Penn State Day October 26, 2013  from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on the Brandywine campus in Media, PA. Come out and join us for free food, games and music, and don’t forget to stop by the Fair Trade Trailblazers table!!!

Contributed by Leshaun Warner, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Month 2013

Happy Fair Trade Month Everyone!!! This year marks the 10th annual Fair Trade month. It will be Penn State Brandywine second year in joining the national voice in October to further promote awareness about the movement.  Fair Trade USA has some insightful reasons on why it’s important to choose Fair Trade items in order to make Every Purchase Matters. Throughout the Month of October The Fair Trade Trailblazers will be on campus raising awareness about supporting the Fair Trade movement. What locations sells Fair Trade items, and also how to recognize Fair Trade products by learning about labels and brands that are Fair Trade.

Fall 2013 Introduction

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! A new semester has commenced at Penn State Brandywine and the torched had been passed to further promote and raise awareness about the Fair Trade Movement. It is with great excitement that I begin to embark on this journey to advocate the need of Fair Trade on the Brandywine campus, within the local community, and to whomever may come across this blog.

However, I do believe introductions are in order, my name is Leshaun Warner and I will be the Fair Trade intern for Fall 2013. I am currently a senior at Penn State Brandywine majoring in Communications Arts and Science with a minor in Business. During this fall semester I will be taking over the duties of posting to the Penn State Brandywine’s Fair Trade blog and other social media platforms.

I became interested in Fair Trade because everyone deserves the right to be justly compensated for the services or goods they produce. Many people in developing countries are taken advantage of and are unable to provide for themselves or their families. Those products are then sold in the U.S, products that you and I buy, products that support an unjust system. A system where children do not go to school but instead they go to work, a system where people work in hazardous environments with no health benefits, a system where communities are disintegrating. By supporting Fair Trade products you are helping to improve people’s lives by simply choosing to purchase one brand over another. As we embarked on this journey I hope that we can further this movement to greater heights so that we can ensure fair treatment to all.



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– Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Leshaun Warner

Fall 2013 Farewell Post

storypeople_connectionAs the fall semester gets underway, my time as the summer intern is coming to a close.  This will be my last post as the official fair trade intern.  I enjoyed updating the Penn State Brandywine fair trade blog and social media sites over the summer, and I look forward to taking part in the fair trade events that are going to be taking place on campus this school year.  Be sure to check this blog, as well as our Facebook and Twitter to receive updates on upcoming events.  I am handing over the fair trade internship to Leshaun Warner, who I know will do an excellent job as the fall semester intern.

On the 26th, I will be leaving to spend time as an undergraduate research assistant in Borneo, Indonesia.  I will be volunteering for seven weeks with the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) and earning course credit as a Penn State Brandywine student.  While I’m away, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for fair trade related products.  I also hope to gain firsthand insight on the environmental and social challenges facing developing countries, challenges which fair trade attempts to alleviate.

I encourage all Penn State Brandywine students to not only consider becoming a Fair Trade Trailblazer but to take advantage of the opportunities that only occur at a smaller campus.  I do not think that I would be having the opportunity to earn Penn State credit in Borneo as an undergrad if I had not attended Penn State Brandywine.  I wish the Fair Trade Trailblazers the best of luck and I look forward to continuing my involvement with the campus fair trade program when I return.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

Fair Trade Plum Tart

After successfully making a fair trade blueberry pie, I decided to try another fair trade dessert, once again using a recipe from my favorite cookbook Simply in Season.  The plum tart recipe (on page 157) was in the summer section, and appeared to be relatively easy, so I decided to try making it.

The recipe calls for:

Tart crust

(Optional) 1 tablespoon of tapioca (I did not use any tapioca)

“Small blue plums” (The recipe referred to them simply as “small blue plums;” I assume it refers to damson plums, however, if you know of another variety of plum that fits that description, please share in the comments section.)

3/4 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

For the tart crust, I used the Shortbread Tart Crust recipe (on page 335):

1 cup of flour (up to 1/3 a cup of whole wheat pastry flour can be used; I decided to use 1/2 a cup of flour and 1/2 a cup of whole wheat pastry flour)

1/3 a cup of butter

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

In order to create a fair trade plum tart, I used fair trade sugar and fair trade powdered sugar.  I also used a rather special ground cinnamon; more information about this cinnamon can be found here.

Fair trade SucanatePowdered Sugar

First, the oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees F.  The shortbread tart crust recipe was surprising simple.  The 3 ingredients (flour, butter, and powdered sugar) are mixed together in a bowl “…until crumbly, with no pieces bigger than a pea,” (Simply In Season, p. 335).  The mixture is than pressed into a 9 inch pie pan.

Once the mixture was pressed into a pan, I started the filling.  Although the recipe calls for small blue plums, I was unable to find any damson plums, and when I went to Linvilla I was told that they are not yet in season.  Instead, while I was at Linvilla, I purchased Shiro sugar plums and another type of plum.  I plan on making the tart again later this month when the damson plums are ripe.

Shiro Sugar Plums are the yellow plums on the left

Shiro Sugar Plums are the yellow plums on the left

To prepare the plums, the stems need to be removed.  Next, the plums need to be cut in half and have their pit removed.  Once the plums are prepared, they need to be placed in the tart crust “…cut side up, making slightly overlapping concentric circles starting at the outside,” (Simply In Season, p. 157).

Next, the sugar and cinnamon need to be mixed together,  This mixture is then poured over the plums.

unbaked plum tart

The tart can then be placed in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.  As tempting as it is to start eating the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven, it really needs to cool a bit before it can be sliced.

plum tartI enjoyed the fair trade plum tart (although I preferred the fair trade blueberry pie).  I thought the tart crust was excellent, and very simple to make.  In my opinion, the Shiro Sugar Plums were more suitable for the tart then the more traditional plums, and next time I would like to try making it using the damson plums called for in the recipe.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

Fair Trade Blueberry Pie

I recently baked a fair trade blueberry pie; I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Simply in Season.  Simply in Season is organized, as its name suggests, around the seasons, with recipes focusing on foods that are “in season” for that particular time of year.  In the summer section I found a recipe for blueberry pie under the label Fresh Fruit Pie (on page 160).  There were several different pie options, but I chose blueberry 1) because I like blueberry pie and 2) because I had a ton of blueberries.

The recipe calls for:

3 cups of blueberries

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of tapioca (I used corn syrup because that is what I had)

(Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of rhubarb, but I am not a fan of rhubarb in pies, so I did not include any.  I did, however, substitute 1/2 cup of blueberries in place of the rhubarb.)

I also decided to make homemade pie crust for the pie, which can be found in Simply in Season on page 334 in the All Seasons section.

The pie crust recipe calls for:

1 slightly beaten egg

5 tablespoons of cold water

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 cups of flour

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup of chilled butter

1 teaspoon of salt

To make the pie fair trade, I used fair trade sugar (you can see the fair trade logo on the Organic Sucanat).


I started the pie crust before the pie’s filling because the crust needs to be chilled between 20 and 30 minutes before it can be rolled and baked.

First, the egg, cold water, and apple cider vinegar need to be combined in a bowl and than set aside.

Second, the flour, whole wheat pastry flour, butter, and salt need to be cut together; the cookbook recommended using a pastry blender.  I just used a butter knife and my hands because I do not own a pastry blender, and this worked fine for me.  According to Simply In Season, “Quickly cut together with a pastry blender until chunks of butter are nearly pea-sized,” (p. 334).  It is important to be fairly quick, because it is important that the butter does not become too warm.

Thirdly, the wet ingredients need to be mixed into the dry ingredients using a fork; the ingredients should form a dough ball.  The cookbook suggested cutting the dough ball into 3 pieces; I cut the dough into two pieces.  The dough is then chilled for 20-30 minutes ( I chilled my dough for 30 minutes).


While the dough chilled I prepped the blueberries.  This involved rinsing and sorting and took more time than I had initially anticipated.  This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.


Once the blueberries were prepped it was time to take the dough out of the refrigerator.  The two dough balls were rolled flat (using a rolling pin and a dusting of flour on wax paper) for a roughly 9 inch pan.


To move the flattened dough, “Fold carefully in half, then in half again, and place point of crust in center of pie plate, opening crust to fill pan,” (Simply In Season, p. 334).  Once in the pan, the crust needs to be trimmed with a knife to fit the pan.  Also, sprinkle a dash of sugar on the the crust that rests in the bottom of the pan.


Once the pie crusts are prepared, the filling needs to be started so the pie can be placed in the preheated oven.  The sugar, corn syrup, and blueberries need to be mixed; I did this by hand in an effort to mix the ingredients thoroughly while avoiding damaging the blueberries.

Once the filling is mixed, it can be poured/scooped into the pie crust.

Once the filling is in the pan, the second pie crust can be moved (in the same way as the first one) and placed on top of the filling.  Like the first crust, it should be trimmed to fit the pan.

Using a fork, press the outer rims of the pie crusts together and cut vent holes in the top.

The pie should be placed in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.

The oven’s heat should be reduced to 350 degrees F and the pie should bake for another 25-30 minutes.

blueberry_pieA picture of the finished product; it tasted great, despite (or perhaps because of) the amount of liquid in the center.


Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper 

Fair Trade Chocolates

A couple of fair trade chocolate bars I purchased at Martindale’s Natural Market…

choc_equalexchange_mint1Above: Equal Exchange mint chocolate.

choc_madecasse_pinkpepper2Above: Madecasse chocolate, pink pepper and citrus (I had to try it because it was such a unique and interesting sounding chocolate)



choc_madecasse_seasalt3Above: Also a Madecasse chocolate, although this one was Sea Salt and Nibs

choc_divine_bakingbarAbove: Divine Milk Chocolate, you can just make out the Fair trade logo in the upper left corner

I thought that these chocolate bars were a good example of how there are so many different “fair trade” labels to choose from.  How these labels compare to one another, however, is a subject for another post.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

“You Can’t Wake a Person Who’s Pretending to Sleep”

The more I have learned about fair trade, the more I have realized how complicated global supply systems really are.  I have also realized how difficult it is to purchase truly ethical products, because a product that is “good” in one way may be “bad” in another way (e.g. is a product both socially and environmentally sound?).  This TED Talk explains some of the issues associated with unsustainable products and realistic solutions.  I recommend it to everyone, and yes, watch the entire video.

This TED Talk (“Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity”) mentions 15 Key Commodities related to the loss of biodiversity. These commodities are: palm oil, cotton, biofuels, sugarcane, pulp & paper, sawn wood, dairy, beef, soy, fish oil & meal, farmed salmon, farmed shrimp, tuna, tropical shrimp, and whitefish.  I have a particular interest in palm oil, for reasons that I will explain in another post; however, I am also interested in how fair trade could be applied to the 15 commodities and how fair trade could fit into the framework described in the video (if you have any ideas, please add them to the comments section).  Environmental sustainability is a crucial aspect of any system that will be fair in the long run, as this article rather direly outlines.

There are many things I love about this TED video, but I want to focus on the ones that I think are most applicable to fair trade.  The video discusses shifting the entire supply chain of the 15 commodities by focusing on the top 100 companies that control 25% of the trade of these commodities (for the full picture and details watch the video).  It will be difficult, but I think this could work for sustainability.  Could the same concepts be used for fair trade?  Could a more socially fair system be implemented at the same time as an environmentally sustainable system for the 15 products?

One of the things I love most about the video is that Jason Clay is not afraid to say that we, as consumers, should be paying the true price for our products.  I could not agree more, but I have found in my own experience that many people balk at fair trade because “it costs too much,” or “I can get the same product for less if it isn’t fair trade.”  Excuses like this ignore the very real social and environmental, as well as economic, costs of our consumerism.

This leads to another point made in the video, that sustainability needs to be an integral part of the global trade system, not a choice.  I agree, and I also think that social equity needs to be a part of the system, and not a choice on the part of the consumer.  I know, for example, that I have bought plenty of unsustainable and non-fair trade cotton shirts; wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where all cotton was fair and sustainable?  I know for sure that I do not have all the answers (but perhaps you have some, please comment if you do) but what I have realized is that we all have to stop pretending to be asleep.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

Summer 2013 Introduction

StoryPeople Making a World

Before I start writing the posts for Penn State Brandywine’s fair trade blog this summer, I thought I should introduce myself.  My name is Megan Draper and I will be the fair trade intern for Summer 2013.  I am a senior at Penn State Brandywine and a psychology major.  My goal is to pursue a career in primatology (the study of nonhuman primates), which is one of the reasons I have become interested in fair trade.  Although equity and social justice are the primary (and important!) motivators of a fair trade system, environmental concerns are also weighed when a product is deemed “fair trade.”  For most primate species to survive in the wild during the coming decades, the sustainability of human food systems is a must, and fair trade is one way to improve food production.  Despite my initial interest through primatology, the more I learned about fair trade, the more I became passionate about fair trade in and of itself.  I hope to share what I find particularly important about fair trade through this blog, and I hope to hear from you in the comments and on our PSU Brandywine Fair Trade Facebook and Twitter.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

A TrailBlazer’s Farewell Post

After a year of interning for the Laboratory for Civic Engagement and the Fair Trade Trailblazers, the time has come for me to pass on the torch of justice to the summer fair trade intern, Megan Draper.

The experiences that I have had working for the Laboratory, for Dr. Guertin and David Rosenberg, have taught me some of the most important and challenging lessons. Through the course of my internship, I was able to organize a fundraiser from scratch, a goal that I had been aspiring to accomplish since the very beginning of my college career.

The path to hosting such an event involved a vast series of obstacles, as I learned to consider the more practical aspects of charity work. For instance, being flexible and open to change were the two biggest lessons that I garnered. After spending months planning the Fresh Artists event, Hurricane Sandy unexpectedly came along during the week of the event, bringing all my plans to a screeching halt. It all worked out in the end, though, when a short conversation revamped the entire event, making it more successful than ever! We were able to get students from The Walden School involved, and we not only collected enough money to make a significant contribution to Fresh Artists, but also were able to spread awareness on the fair trade movement.

It was amazing to get involved with people in the local community and to work with everyone to discuss ways to combat human trafficking and unethical labor practices. Of course, my journey does not end here. This internship has given me just the foundation I needed to embark on my own journey to further promote global social justice issues.

I leave today with the powerful words of Anne Frank:


— Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee

Icelanders Like Their Ice Cream Fair Trade!

I recently returned from a trip to Iceland.  I was there for a geology field seminar, but I also had my “Fair Trade” hat on and kept an eye out for fair trade products in stores.  I was disappointed to see so few fair trade items on the shelves, especially since Icelanders have to import so much of their food.  One food item did not let me down – that familiar fair trade logo was on all varieties of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

I can spot that logo anywhere - even in Iceland!

I can spot that logo anywhere – even in Iceland!

5th Annual Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest

An announcement from our friends at the Fair Trade Resource Network!

We welcome you to participate in the 5th annual Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest!  Educate about Fair Trade, or help spread the word about your business or organization and the beauty of Fair Trade.  Enter photos from producer or consumer countries. The 12 winning Fair Trade photos will be featured in our 2014 Fair Trade Calendar.

1) Submit Photos (June 7-26, 2013)

  1. Read contest Guidelines/Eligibility for details on qualifying, specifications, etc.
  2. Email each photo, with a caption up to 50 words , to
  3. Pay submission fee of $10/photo at FTRN’s Online Store

2) Vote for Photos (June 27 – July 9, 2013)

Vote online, with a link announced here June 27, for your favorites. The 12 winning photos will be featured each month in the 2014 Fair Trade Calendar. Over 2300 people voted for their favorite photos in last year’s contest!

To learn more about the Fair Trade Calendar Photo Contest, visit or email

Meeting Divine Chocolate Cocoa Farmers, Christiana & Afriye

As the season turned to spring on the first of May, it came time for the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade Trailblazers to once again don the great banana suit and conduct one final performance on fair trade to a energetic group of students at Media Elementary School.

The fantastic event, organized by Earth & State, invited fair trade Divine Chocolate farmers, Christiana Adusei and Afriye Kwesi Boateng, to discuss the cocoa farming process to all of us in Media. Let me tell you, all of us were amazed by the amount of hard work that went into harvesting cocoa!

As consumers, we only really get to see the neatly-packaged end product of hours and hours of painstaking labor. And so, meeting Christiana and Afriye in person and hearing their stories helped so much to bring the process alive; engaging in conversations with them about their lives humanized the great effort in producing a simple bar of chocolate.

The event made me realize that in this era of increased globalization and amazing technological advancements, communication is truly the key in making the world a more transparent and more moral place–one in which unethical labor practices cannot go unanswered.

Aimee and I performed the prelude to the event with a short dialogue. While Aimee had a basket of fair trade items that she enthusiastically showed off and explained to the crowd, I was dressed in a banana suit, telling the crowd of the story of the lives of bananas as they are farmed and, later, sold in the USA.

Overall, we had a wonderful time meeting so many amazing people in the local and national fair trade action team. It was an absolute privilege to talk to everyone from Divine Chocolate and Earth & State!

To learn more about Afriye and Christiana, check out the Media Fair Trade Committee’s May newsletter!

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee.

When Fair Trade Meets Earth Day…

Earth Day, 1990

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day – one of the few days of the year that all of us, internationally, come together for a common cause: to help further initiatives to protect the environment.

A movement that started as a grassroots movement in the 60s (the official Earth Day event was held on April 22, 1970!) has led to the development of hundreds of environmentally-conscious organizations nationwide!

Earth Day, April 1970

Today, the Fair Trade movement follows the Earth Day mission in working hard to  foster both social and environmental responsibility. After all, Fair Trade plays a huge role in not only advocating for the human rights of laborers worldwide, but also in the promotion of more sustainable agro-ecological practices.

Fair Trade’s commitment to sustainability promises, among many other things, the reduction of toxic chemical usage and the protection of complex ecosystems. As the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) states:

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.

This means that roughly thirty-percent of Fair Trade farmers dedicate their premiums to powerful initiatives that promote community development, reforestation, environmental education, and water conservation! So, choosing Fair Trade-certified goods means that we care about both the people & environment where our food is produced.

On campus, our Laboratory for Civic Engagement is encouraging everyone to get involved by answering the question, “Where on Earth is your favorite outdoor destination?” via Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #PSUEarthDay in your tweet when answering. All tweets will be gathered at the end of the day and posted on the Laboratory’s Facebook and Twitter pages to find out some of Penn State Brandywine’s favorite destinations!

If you’re interested in volunteering for the day, check out the EPA website to find exciting new options in your local area! Here is the link:

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

The Justice Conference & Social Responsibility

On February 23rd, I attended the 2013 Justice Conference in Philadelphia, where I had the privilege of listening to a large variety of speakers, ranging from the CEO of World Relief to the leader of social innovation at Twitter.

The diversity in subject matter and the enthusiastic audience made the conference a terrific success, rekindling the embers of inspiration and passion among all of us.

Today, we are so much bombarded with callings for “justice” and “activism” that we have become somewhat numb to the serious reasons behind them.

As Gary Haugen, CEO of the International Justice Mission stated, “As we are constantly ambushed with stories of suffering, they begin to dull at our ears and the sense of urgency dissipates….But, to those suffering, the realities are immediate, never fading.”

I have recounted some of the highlights of the conference in an attempt to revitalize that sense of urgency for justice that these world leaders tried to foster within us.

Here are the links to the conference summaries:

>Running the Justice Marathon: Close-Up on Eugene Cho of One Day’s Wages

>Stephan Bauman, CEO of World Relief, Talks Human Trafficking and Immigration Policy

>Twitter’s Claire Diaz-Ortiz Discusses Using Social Media for Good

>Half the Sky’s Sheryl WuDunn at the Justice Conference

Also, if you are interested in listening to any of the main speakers from the event, check out the conference videos posted on the Justice website:

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Looking for Fair Trade-themed art from PSU Brandywine students

Calling all Art Enthusiasts! The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers are now collecting artwork from any student for the 2013 “Spring into Art” Exhibition to be held by the Media Arts Council in early May! The exhibit will feature artwork created by students from The Walden School, Penncrest High School, and Penn State Brandywine.  Please consider submitting any original piece of artwork that reflects on what Fair Trade means to you. This is a great opportunity to get involved in the community and contribute to a meaningful cause. The deadline for submissions is on Friday, April 26th. If you are interested and would like more details, please contact Labanya Mookerjee at Thank you!

ArtEdit Flyer Media-page-001

Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training

It all started with an idea for an event… and then, making the event happen!

Join Fair Trade Colleges & Universities and our host Penn State Brandywine for the Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Training! The training session will focus on helping students, faculty, administration and others organize their campaigns in order to become the next Fair Trade College or University.

Sharpen your tools and skills, learn what others are doing on campus to promote Fair Trade and get to know the network of students, faculty and staff across the region who are working on Fair Trade College & University campaigns!

Guiding the training will be:

Dr. Laura Guertin – Founder of the Fair Trade Trailblazers and professor at Penn State Brandywine, the first Fair Trade University in PA and 8th in the nation.

Sarah DeMartino –  National Steering Committee Member for Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, and student leader of Fair Trade Penn State at Penn State University Main Campus. Sarah also served on the Trailblazers steering committee before transferring to PSU-Main Campus.

Billy Linstead Goldsmith – National Coordinator of Fair Trade Campaigns

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the "welcome bananas" for today's events!

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the “welcome bananas” for today’s event!

So on a sunny-yet-windy day (with La Colombe Fair Trade coffee to warm us up from Seven Stones Cafe in Media!), students and faculty from Penn State Brandywine, Penn State University Park, Saint Joseph’s University, Cabrini College, and Drexel University gathered at the Brandywine campus to spend time discussing individual campus campaigns for Fair Trade University status.  The group discussed a range of topics from successes and challenges to having events on campus, to renewing leadership, and engaging the faculty, staff, food providers, bookstore managers, and everyone else on campus in creating a sustainable effort and program for Fair Trade.

A range of Fair Trade-themed events have been taking place at our schools.  Drexel and Penn State University Park have shown Fair Trade movies.  Saint Joe’s held a tasting event with chocolate (Kopali), tea (Runa), and soda (Maine Root).  Cabrini College held a Fair Trade Catholic College Philly gathering with speakers from Philly Fair Trade Coffee and Ten Thousand Villages.  Penn State Brandywine shared the success of our Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale.  All of us want to increase the opportunities for students to take trips that incorporate Fair Trade and to purchase (or at least taste) Fair Trade food items – to quote Billy, we want to “taste the equity!”

The day ended with everyone thinking about how to prepare for the fall semester.  Yes, even though the spring semester hasn’t ended yet, it is important for all of us to think about how to keep the momentum of our efforts continuing through the summer and to start the fall semester strong with recruiting efforts.  At least in southeast PA, we hope to get students/faculty together from our neighboring colleges for one or two Fair Trade meetings to continue today’s conversations.  Anyone up for some Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade ice cream this summer?  😉

— Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Penn State Brandywine Hosts Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training

Today is the day that Penn State Brandywine is hosting college students from across the region for the Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training! Our own Dr. Laura Guertin and founding Fair Trade TrailBlazer Sarah DeMartino are leading the event, along with Billy Linstead-Goldsmith (national coordinator of Fair Trade Campaigns). Keep an eye out for our summaries of the day!

Also, keep updated on the latest news by following us on Twitter (@PSUBW_FairTrade) and by liking us on Facebook (!

Victory: Hershey’s Finally Commits to 100% Fair Trade Certified Cocoa

After years of activism by passionate fair trade activists, the Hershey Company has promised to purchase all of its cocoa from fair trade certified sources by 2020!

The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Coalition has identified forced and child labor practices and has been very active in demanding Hershey to: a) “trace its supply chain to the farm level”; b) source “from farmers who can show through independent verification that they do not use forced labor or child labor”; c) ask “suppliers to end such practices at the farms from which they source.”

The Coalition states that although this is a very significant step in the right direction, it will still continue to “hold Hershey accountable for the treatment of cocoa laborers” and to “pressure major corporations, working in chocolate and other sectors to address the issues of forced labor, child labor, and human trafficking in their supply chains.”

As committed fair trade activists, all of us at Penn State Brandywine are deeply encouraged by this victory – with time, all the hard work and patience pays off! It reminds me of a few words that Gary Haugen, CEO of the International Justice Mission, had spoken at the Justice conference: “The book of justice is long and boring…full of waiting rooms, long lines, and instructions for perseverance…but I love it. I love it, especially, when we read it together.”

As we continue this journey together, feel free to send a thank you note to Hershey to encourage it’s commitment.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee

A Fair Trade Crossword Puzzle!

I was trying to come up with a creative way for my students to review the information they learned this semester about Fair Trade.  My classroom review became a Fair Trade crossword puzzle!  I’m sharing it here with the world, and feel free to contact me for the answer key through the “Contact Us” tab at the menu across the top of the blog.

To complete the crossword puzzle, I strongly recommend having the Fall 2012/Issue 5 and Spring 2013/Issue 6 issues of For A Better World handy to search out some of the answers.  Thank you, Fair World Project, for having such a great publication!

Crossword Puzzle (PDF file)

Good luck!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin



The TrailBlazers get a graduation shout-out in Fig!

The Fair Trade TrailBlazers are thrilled to have a shout-out in the Spring 2013 issue of Fig Media, PA magazine!  Thank you, Fig, for your kind words and recognizing the hard work of our students for the local Fair Trade community and beyond.  And what an honor it is to be on the same page as Hal Taussig! If you don’t have a paper copy of the issue, flip to page 30 in this electronic version.

Explore the issue online!

How to host a Fair Trade-themed clothesline art sale

I feel so fortunate to be at a campus with some amazingly creative students that are not afraid to step up as leaders and take on a project that I myself was overwhelmed to even think about organizing (of course, I didn’t tell them that!).

Here were our ingredients….

  • Fresh Artists – a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia dedicated to saving artmaking for all children and creating real opportunities for children to be philanthropic.
  • The Walden School – the nation’s first Fair Trade preK-8 school, recently designated a Fair Trade School in November 2011.  our students gave a Fair Trade Show-and-Tell presentation at their school, and were eager to find a way to connect and collaborate on a future project.
  • Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers – led this semester by our Fair Trade intern Labanya Mookerjee, Labanya successfully coordinated and organized the communications with Fresh Artists, The Walden School, campus maintenance and facilities, and the student volunteers to make this event the success that it was.

Fair Trade Intern Labanya Mookerjee with some of the young artists from The Walden School

Fair Trade Intern Labanya Mookerjee with some of the young artists from The Walden School

Our goal – have children at a local Fair Trade School create artwork on what Fair Trade means to them, bring that artwork to Penn State Brandywine for a Fair Trade-themed clothesline art sale, share/discuss their artwork with members of the Penn State Brandywine and greater communities, collect donations for the artwork, so that art supplies can be purchased for kids in the city of Chester that do not have any art supplies in their schools.  (whew – quite a goal!)

We have reported on the events with a video in this post and an overall summary, and we encourage you to review these posts first to get a feel for what the event was and how it ran.  In addition, here are some tips we felt were important to make note of during our preparations and execution of the event.  We hope that our experience can help other campuses learn how to best host a Fair Trade-themed clothesline art sale!

The Walden School artists sitting in front of their artwork, strung for all to see

The Walden School artists sitting in front of their artwork, strung for all to see.

  1. Get permission first! We CANNOT stress this enough!  Since this event was going to involve bringing minor children to campus, we first contacted our business office, who then contacted the Office of Risk Management of the University.  Because this was a Walden School event that was hosted at our campus, there were a series of forms that had to be signed by The Walden School and submitted to us and processed at least two weeks before the event.  Warning – this process will take longer than you may think – get started EARLY on securing all the permissions/signatures you need.  If you are just doing the event on campus with artwork by/for college students, then you should still check to see what rules may apply if your event is open to the general public from outside the campus.
  2. Get the word out. We created a logo, flyer, blog post, and did a social media blast to get the word out.  We used our campus’s social media sites our own social media sites.  Our local town’s Fair Trade committee was kind enough to spread the word and promote the event in their newsletter and on their social media sites.  It worked!  Although most of the visitors to the event were campus staff and students (although, we sent a special invitation to our Chancellor to attend – and she came!), at the end of the day, all pieces of the student artwork found a home, and Fresh Artists received $375 to purchase more art supplies for students in the city of Chester.
  3. Consider the time and location for the event. The best space for us to have the event on campus was a large student lounge, surrounded by benches and railings so we could easily keep the kids all sitting in one spot in front of their artwork on the clothesline, in a building with four classrooms off the lounge.  We were originally going to have the event on an afternoon when no classes were held during the time the school kids could come and visit, but then, the date changed and we ended up with 60 preK-8th grade kids in a large lounge (where yes, the noise echoed) and classes taking place.  Despite several attempts to keep the kids quiet, the children were just so thrilled to talk about their artwork and be at our campus.  It was a struggle for me, because I wanted the kids to be excited and to be happy to be participating in the event, but I was sensitive to the classrooms and college students in their rooms.  Fortunately, the campus faculty were very understanding when I explained what was going on.  One faculty member even asked how her daughter’s school could become a Fair Trade School!
  4. Expand your volunteer base – connect with a faculty member/course. Early in the semester, we had a faculty member that teachers Introduction to Business ask if her students could help out with any of our Fair Trade events.  Her students assisted last semester with our Go Bananas for Fair Trade and Alta Gracia T-shirt Swap events, and we were thrilled to have her students assist again!  These volunteers were essential in helping hang up the artwork, helping the children get name tags when they arrived, distributing the cupcakes and beverages, etc.  We used 20 student volunteers the day of the event, and I do not think we could have pulled this off with any fewer.  This was also a great opportunity for us to spread the Fair Trade message to students in a freshman course and to grow our volunteer base.  These students have been asking more and more questions about Fair Trade, and we bet we are going to see them at our future events!
  5. Have your volunteers easily identifiable to the children.  We had all of our college volunteers wear the same Penn State t-shirt and name tags, so the children would know who was an official student helping with the event.
  6. Start the event with a short lecture/description of the event and ground rules.  We wanted to make sure the kids knew the impact of not only “selling” their artwork and sharing it with others, but what the impact would be for other kids in the region.  We showed the kids a video about Fresh Artists that also described the purpose of a clothesline art sale.  Our twist was the Fair Trade theme!  We also took the opportunity to remind the kids that they were still “in school” – no running in the halls, yelling, etc.
  7. Arrange for your mascot to stop by and visit.  What kid doesn’t like a school mascot?  We had our Nittany Lion come by at the beginning of the event.  As you can imagine, the kids were thrilled!  After doing some dance moves with the Lion, they posed for some photos, showed off their artwork, and then the Lion was on his way as our event continued.
  8. If you have young artists, have a snack.  Since the event was after lunch, we decided to keep with the artistic theme and ordered several cupcake cakes, each with their own design.  We had college student volunteers handle the cupcakes – they each wore plastic gloves (for sanitary purposes) and placed the cupcake in a bowl to catch the crumbs when the kids ate the cupcakes.  It worked!  We did not have a cupcake mess to clean up.  We also had water, iced tea, and lemonade for the kids to drink.
  9. Not all of the young artists will want you to take their artwork home!  Some of our campus staff were disappointed when they tried to “purchase” the artwork, and a child did not want to sell their creation!  Some kids were so proud of their work that they wanted to keep the pieces themselves.  The school principal promised these kids that she would take their pieces back and hang them in their school, which she has!
  10. There’s no need to put a price on the artwork – it is all priceless.  We did not put a price on the pieces of art – we only had a basket out and asked for donations for the pieces.  We figure that some college students might only be able to afford one dollar for a piece of art, while some adults could afford more.  Our strategy of not setting prices was successful beyond our dreams!  For approximately 70 pieces of art, we raised $375 – for Fresh Artists!
  11. Take lots of photos, and share the results. FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY… we knew we could not take photos of minor children and post these images online, unless we had signed parental permission.  (Legally, we could use photos that had the backs of the heads of children, or the faces blurred out.)  Fortunately, we did have parental permission!  As this event was a Walden School event, their school had the permission of all of the parents for pictures to be taken of their children, which allowed us to take the photos as well.  Knowing that we had the permission in place to take photos of minors, we took pictures and tweeted them during the event and posted a collection of photos online.  It’s a great way to document what we did and to share the results with others.  We hope the conversation continues and people are inspired to try their own event after seeing and reading what we did!

Our collection of creative and artistic cupcake cakes to share with the young artists - perfect for an artistic event!

Our collection of creative and artistic cupcake cakes to share with the young artists – perfect for an artistic event!

The Nittany Lion gets to know one of the young artists from The Walden School.

The Nittany Lion gets to know one of the young artists from The Walden School.


Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


Mission Accomplished: Fair Trade Art Sale for Fresh Artists

On Thursday, February 21st, The Walden School joined forces with the Fair Trade Trailblazers at Penn State Brandywine to host the Fair Trade Art Sale for Fresh Artists. The event was a huge success, raising over $375 to support art programs in Chester schools and engaging the community in a vibrant discussion on all things fair trade!

Colorful artwork made by K-8 Walden School students to describe the role that fair trade in their worlds!

The event began with a short presentation on the important work that Fresh Artists does in the community. Here is a short feature clip from 6abc news on Fresh Artists:

With hearts full of excitement and anticipation, we finally moved on to the art display, where all the students stood by their artwork, explaining the meaning of their pieces to everyone who passed by. We all even had a chance to enjoy fair-trade and Fresh-Artists themed cupcake cakes!

“Home Run for Fresh Artists!”

The event was such a great way to keep the conversation going about the importance of fair trade in the community – the enthusiasm and creativity of The Walden School students brought fresh energy to the dialogue!

Here are a few more pictures from the event:

Dr. Laura Guertin, Professor of Earth Sciences & director of the PSU-BWFair Trade Trailblazers with Carly Tolson, Assistant Head Of The Walden School

Penn State Brandywine Students enjoying their newly-purchased fair trade artwork!

Art supplies collected by the Penn State Brandywine Community for Fresh Artists

PSU-BW student & Media Fair Trade Intern, Aimee Ralph, with the donations collected at the end of the day!

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee

The Walden School’s Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale

We will be adding more details to this post soon to fully describe our incredibly successful and unique event!  View the video below to see a snapshot of the Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale that The Walden School recently held at Penn State Brandywine.  All of the art was sold, and $375 was raised for Fresh Artists to purchase school supplies for schools in Chester!

To view a video of the Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale, please click here.

The Walden School, Penn State Brandywine, and Fair Trade – what a collaboration!


Upcoming Event: Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale for Fresh Artists


The Walden School in Media, PA will be holding a Fair Trade clothesline art sale for the non-profit, Fresh Artists, on Thursday, February 21st at the Penn State Brandywine campus! The event is an initiative taken further spread awareness on the fair trade movement, while also supporting art programs in Philadelphia through Fresh Artists.

So, What’s in the Program? The Walden School students have created their own colorful artwork to express what fair trade means to them. In turn, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers of Penn State Brandywine’s Laboratory for Civic Engagement is setting up the artwork on clotheslines for display. This is a great chance to hear kids talk about their art and fair trade! The event is free, although donations will be accepted to support Fresh Artists. There will be refreshments for those who attend!

What’s Fresh Artists? Fresh Artists is a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that aims to support art programs in under-resourced schools in the area. The organization has a rather innovative business model that is structured to make children philanthropists — students are asked to make their own artwork, which is then donated to businesses in the area; in return, businesses donate to Fresh Artists to keep art-making alive! The Walden School is actively working hard to support the program through the art sale! 

When/Where is it Taking Place?  The event will be taking place in the Tomezsko Lounge at Penn State Brandywine from 1PM-2:30PM. Here is the campus address:

Penn State Brandywine
25 Yearsley Mill Road
Media, PA 19063

We hope to see you there!

Auction 2

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Facing the Monster Together during Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Panelists: Assistant District Attorney Pearl Kim, Detective Mark Bucci, Author Carol Metzker, Professor Sam Lemon

“What’s past is prologue,” said Neumann University professor Dr. Sam Lemon, kicking off the evening’s presentation on January 30 at the Media Municipal Building on “Slavery Then and Now” by quoting a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. “And that means that what happened the year that slavery occurred [in early America] doesn’t matter. It’s the impact that matters.”

Dr. Lemon, whose ancestor, Martha Jane, had escaped the bonds of slavery in the 1860s, noticed a connection between slavery in the early nineteenth century and today.

Martha Jane, he said, was a “breeding woman” in the early 1860s, meaning that she would bear children for her owner, who would then sell the children to other traders.

“The part that’s not often discussed is sexual exploitation,” noted Dr. Lemon. “Americans have a strange disconnect when it comes to real life tragedies…when we see real horror…We need to overcome this and learn to face the monster.”

A part of Dr. Lemon’s plan to combat human trafficking involved simply gaining more awareness on the issue and sharing the knowledge with others. He said, “We can’t do much for Martha Jane, but we can do something about human slavery today.”

Carol Metzker, author of Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery, was up next with her talk on Jaya, a powerful woman who escaped the chains of slavery in India in 2011.

Jaya, born into a family nearing the point of starvation in a small village in India, fell victim to her trafficker, who had captured her with promises of a better life. Locked in a dark room for two days, she experienced unspeakable horrors.

However, in time, Jaya was able to escape imprisonment and was accepted into an ashram that was supported by Pennsylvania Quakers and Rotaries. There, she was given the chance to read and write.

“When you are illiterate, you may not know that you have certain human rights that you are entitled to,” said Metzker.

Given a second chance, Jaya soon grew to become the first female tailor in the area; she also began developing more efficient ways of producing rice, and all of this was accomplished in 2011, when she was only 17 years old.

Slaves…work unpaid, unable to leave, held by violence or threat of harm to themselves or their families.

Today, India and Africa remain as the two biggest locations of human trafficking. However, in the United States, itself, there are over 100,000 slaves, and it is predicted that by 2013, the number will double.

In fact, just last year Detective Mark Bucci of the Delaware County Criminal Investigations Division and Pearl Kim of the Delaware County Courthouse caught a sex trafficking case in the area.

Metzker went on to name the four main components that enable human trafficking:

  • Vulnerable People: “When you are illiterate, you are vulnerable to being deceived.” Individuals that do not have access to proper education and resources are most prone to exploitation. Solution: Donate to organizations, like Dawn’s Place to support vulnerable people
  • Traffickers: “Historically and today, traffickers are hard to talk about,” especially because they are difficult to identify. Solution: Learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking and report any suspicious behavior to the hotline (1-888-3737-888)
  • Apathy/Helplessness Feeling in Society: This is the destructive sense that the problem is too big to be handled; one way to overcome this feeling is by further education on the topic. Solution: Start by reading Metzker’s own book:  Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery
  • Consumers: “I don’t want just the deal, I want the steal.” Metzker asked us to contemplate on what exactly it was that we were “stealing.” If it looked too good to be true, then it probably was; there was a human cost to everything. Solution: Switch to fair trade products, which can be identified by any of these symbols:

Following the presentation, we (the Fair Trade TrailBlazers of Penn State Brandywine’s Laboratory for Civic Engagement) had set up a table with the Media Fair Trade Committee to distribute more information on fair trade!

Photo credit: Dress for a Good Cause

Want to Learn More?

a) First, start by calculating the number of slaves that work to maintain your lifestyle by visiting;

b) Help us spread awareness about SB75, a senate bill proposed to extensively revise laws on human trafficking;

c) Lastly, check out the Fair Trade Federation to learn more about the fair trade movement!

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Gathering over Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

After weeks of rainy days, the sun came up strong and bright for our meeting with Elizabeth Killough, chair of the Media Fair Trade Town Committee, and David Rosenberg, generous donor of the Laboratory for Civic Engagement. Over lunch, we discussed  the inspiring origins of the fair trade movement in Media and talked about ways to sustain and expand awareness in the coming years.

The interesting thing about fair trade, said Killough, is that “it is something that appeals to everyone across the spectrum.”


Dr. Laura Guertin with Elizabeth Killough

The conversation took on a whole new dynamic as lunch turned into a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream social, which was part of the celebration for our winning the nationwide Go Bananas for Fair Trade campaign. Students that had helped with Fair Trade events in the fall semester (the Alta Gracia t-shirt swap and bananas) were treated to free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Director of the Penn State Brandywine Laboratory for Civic Engagement, Dr. Laura Guertin, assembled this incredible pyramid of fair trade greatness, composed of 18 delicious fair trade flavors of Ben & Jerry’s. She even created fresh whipped cream with fair trade sugar to top off our dessert creations!


Ice-cream has a special way of bringing everyone together, and between scoops, we not only talked about the social issues surrounding the fair trade movement and its impact on communities internationally, but also on Ben & Jerry’s trailblazing path to a more just world. The company truly stands as a model for other influential corporations to follow.


Senior and Fair Trade Intern for Media’s Fair Trade Town Committee, Aimee Ralph, enjoys her bowl of Ben & Jerry’s

Overall, the celebration was quite a success and each of us departed, brimming with enthusiasm for future fair trade events!

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Ben & Jerry’s switch to international FAIRTRADE Certification Mark

Ben & Jerry’s has been a strong supporter of fair trade and is adding fair trade ingredients, such as vanilla, chocolate, and sugar, to more of their flavors.  Ben & Jerry’s even has a Fairtrade page online (website).  With the questions/discussions/frustrations swirling around fair trade certifiers, does this recent move get us closer to “whirled” peace?

HEADLINEBen & Jerry’s Fortifies Farmer Focus with Faritrade Effort
Ice cream maker solidifies its commitment with Fairtrade International’s US Headquarters, Fairtrade International USA

Sine Fairtrade International USA (website) has established themselves in the United States, the Fair Trade USA “bucket boy” logo has been disappearing on products such as Divine Chocolate, and now Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Does it make a difference who certifies Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?  Does it taste any different, or do you feel any different eating the ice cream under a different certifier?  The answers to these questions are all personal and individual, but we think everyone agrees that the commitment to fair trade is a priority and should be a priority for more companies that have the power to make a difference.

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Upcoming Event: “Facing the Monster: Slavery Then and Now”

In support of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Media-Upper Providence Public Library is sponsoring an action-packed event to spread further awareness on the issues surrounding human trafficking.

The event, titled “Facing the Monster: Slavery Then and Now,” is taking place right here, in our home town of Media, PA, on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013.

The program will involve a series of diverse segments including:

  • A short presentation on the stories of runaway slaves in the 1800s as well as in the present; Dr. Sam Lemon and Carol Metzker will also speak on the various actions taken to battle trafficking
  • A book signing with the author of Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery, Carol Metzker
  • Five information tables with representatives from the Delaware County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Media Fair Trade Committee & Brandywine Penn State Trailblazers, the Delco WAR and Domestic Abuse Project, CASA, and Dawn’s Place
  • A vibrant discussion about slavery in modern society and methods that can be employed to eliminate trafficking
This event is free and open to the public! However, donations are always welcome to support Dawn’s Place, a local shelter for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Doors open at 6:30PM and the event is scheduled to start at 7PM in the Parlor Room of the Media Municipal Building.

Of course, members of our very own campus fair trade organization will be at the event to show our support and to spread the growing fair trade movement. We hope to see you there!


Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Starbucks USA vs Starbucks UK

The UK has long been known as the birthplace of the fair trade movement. It is only fitting that the Starbucks UK market can boast that 100% of their espresso based coffee drinks are Fair Trade Certified (Starbucks UK 100% Fair Trade Espresso Based Drinks), but what about the U.S. market? The U.S. market offers the Italian Roast as their Fair Trade Certified option. I found a great article on a petition for Starbucks to offer a Fair Trade Certified brewed coffee option daily by a former partner. The main reason Starbucks USA has not acted is because there is not enough demand for the same Fair Trade standards as the UK stores. Please take a look and let your voice be heard!

Former Barista Tells Starbucks: Brew More Fair Trade Coffee

Coffee harvesting (image source)

I also found a link to an article about how Starbucks UK is creating a Fair Trade Access Fund, check it out! Introducing Starbucks Fair Trade Access Fund

Contributed by Jack Ramaika, founding Fair Trade TrailBlazer

Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices vs. Fair Trade Certified Coffee

Hello supporters of all things fair trade! My name is Jack Ramaika and I am a student here at PSU Brandywine. I am also a lover of coffee, which would lead me to find a job at Starbucks Coffee. I have been a partner at Starbucks since 2006. In my time at Starbucks, I have been very proud of the company and the principles on which we stand. When I joined the Fair Trade movement at PSU Brandywine, I began to take a serious look at how Starbucks purchases and deals with the producers of their coffee beans. I found that Starbucks has created, with cooperation from Conservation International, what they call Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices. Starbucks believes that this scorecard-based system helps farmers grow coffee in a way that is better for both people and the environment. It is focused on product quality, economic accountability, social responsibility, and environmental leadership.

Responsibly Grown Coffee, from Starbucks

When I began to ask the company why we only had one fair trade certified coffee in the U.S. market (Italian Roast) the response was that the C.A.F.E. Practices model actually was superior to the fair trade standards. Starbucks is quick to point out on the same web page that it is the number one purchaser of fair trade certified coffee in the world. In fact, Starbucks writes that they increased their purchases of fair trade certified coffee from 19 million pounds in 2008 to 39 million pounds in 2009. Responsibly Sourced Coffee I found some websites that support this belief, such as I also found criticism at Bean Activist.

A percentage of these purchases come from the UK. Market where Fair Trade Certified Coffee is used for every espresso based drink. My next question is… Why not have fair trade coffee beans be used for all espresso based drinks in the US market? Can you imagine the increase in purchases of fair trade coffee beans? The answer is that there is not enough demand for fair trade in the US market. As consumers we must demand fair trade coffee options. Another reason why I love Starbucks coffee is that they are open to ideas. You can voice your opinion on this matter at My Starbucks Idea. I went to the site myself and searched Fair Trade Certified Coffee and here you can see the results,

Starbucks CAFE Practices, from Coffee & Conservation

I am very proud to be a partner at Starbucks Coffee. Our commitment to the community and to the ethical purchasing of the coffee beans that are used to create the Starbucks Brand. What I will say is that old saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Starbucks Coffee has the chance to lead the coffee industry into a new era of social responsibility. By truly backing the fair trade movement and uniting behind the same cause, Starbucks could provide the leadership to bring about true change. So all you lovers of the coffee bean make your voice heard!

Contributed by Jack Ramaika, founding Fair Trade TrailBlazer

A TrailBlazer’s Final Post

This is my last post as the Fair Trade Intern on campus. I graduated Penn State Brandywine on December 21st and will be moving on with life. This semester as the Fair Trade Intern has meant a lot to me. I feel closer to my school more than ever. A lot of great things were accomplished and I hope next semester goes even better. The Fair Trade movement on the Brandywine campus grows all of the time and I have faith in our students, faculty, and staff to continue its growth.

Thank you to Pam and Nick from the cafeteria for helping get Fair Trade food on campus. Thanks to Prof. Olear and her students for helping out at our Go Bananas and Fair Trade T-shirt Swap events. Thank you everyone who helped us this semester, and to everyone that participated in our events, we could not have come this far without your support, and thanks to Dr. Guertin for getting me involved in the first place.

I will certainly miss working on campus and helping to make it a better place. I hope whoever fills my spot as the Fair Trade Intern will know just how lucky they are to work with such great people for such a great cause.

– Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern
To read more about Louis, see his profile on our Laboratory for Civic Engagement website

The Walden School Fair Trade Announcement

If you did not make it to the Media Theatre on the evening of December 17, please allow us to share a recap with you of a very special evening.  On this chilly Monday evening, Labanya Mookerjee and I headed to The Walden School‘s Holiday Sing-A-Long to hear the preschool, elementary, and middle school students perform some beautiful songs.  We thoroughly enjoyed hearing these children and seeing them perform songs such as Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney, Hanukkah Festival, and The Peace Song.

But looking down the front row of the theater, anyone in the Fair Trade community would have known that something else was going to happen this evening – something significant, something exciting!  Seated down the row were myself and Labanya of Penn State Brandywine, Elizabeth Killough of the Media Fair Trade Town Committee, Hal Taussig (Media’s Fair Trade pioneer), Mary Le Fever (Walden School’s founder), Monica Simpson of the Media Borough Council… and the list goes on!


The evening started with Walden’s Head of School, Mary McKeon (pictured above, left), and Assistant Head of School, Carly Tolson (pictured above, center), making an announcement that (drumroll, please….) The Walden School has been officially granted status as the nation’s first Fair Trade School for pre-K through 8th grade!  Monica Simpson came on to the stage to make the presentation of the official certificate from Fair Trade Universities (who oversees all school campaigns).

To view a video of the Fair Trade announcement, please click here.

Congratulations, The Walden School!  Penn State Brandywine looks forward to connecting and collaborating with you on future Fair Trade awareness, education, and advocacy events.

– Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

#FairTuesday – November 27, 2012

If Black Friday wasn’t your thing, and you have already supported Small Business Saturday, we encourage you to breeze right through Cyber Monday to #FairTuesday!  Launched by the New York-based nonprofit Global Good Partners, “the goal of #FairTuesday is to inspire conscious consumerism and show how an everyday purchase can change lives in a whole community.”  So spread the word, and shop Fair Trade this holiday season (and year-round)!

So where can your purchase your Fair Trade items?  Check the online listing of supporting retailers of Fair Trade and the listing of Fair Trade Federation shops.



2012- A Year to be Thankful

Although the year 2012 has not yet ended, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers of Penn State Brandywine have much to be thankful for this year.

We are thankful for our Penn State Brandywine community that supported us becoming a Fair Trade University.  Without our students, staff, faculty, and alumni taking the time to learn about Fair Trade and agreeing that Fair Trade is significant and important for us to connect with, we would not have been able to establish such a strong community of passionate people that are continuing to educate others and using their purchasing power to make a difference.

We are thankful for Hal Taussig and America’s First Fair Trade Town.  Would Fair Trade even be here without Hal pursuing the idea of bringing Fair Trade Towns to the USA?  Would we have any Fair Trade Towns without Media taking the first steps to gaining the approval?  Would we at Penn State Brandywine have even considered becoming a Fair Trade University if Media wasn’t a Fair Trade Town?  We thank those that are the true “trailblazers” for bringing Fair Trade to America.

We are thankful for the certifiers.  Yes, you may not all get along, but we appreciate the challenges you offer each other.  By keeping the conversation going, it keeps the Fair Trade discussion moving forward.  Fair Trade has come far, but there is still so much further to go.  All movements have growing pains, and we as a university value informative, detailed, constructive, and civil discussions of all sides of the issue of Fair Trade certification.

We are thankful for social media.  OK, so this item may not seem like it fits in with the rest of what we are thankful for.  But if it wasn’t for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Flickr, etc., we would not have made our initial connections with Fair Trade Campaigns National Coordinator Billy Linstead Goldsmith, or Divine Chocolate’s Amanda White.  We would not be exchanging tweets with Alta Gracia or other Fair Trade supporters from literally across the globe.  Thank you, social media, for allowing our campus to be connected in a global conversation about Fair Trade.

Most importantly, we are thankful for the farmers and the makers of Fair Trade products.  For the people that give so much of themselves to produce food and crafts ethically sourced that benefits not only their communities but our entire planet Earth – thank you for your tireless, beautiful work.


Making Thanksgiving Desserts Fair Trade

Every year for Thanksgiving, my husband makes two desserts from scratch that he brings to the family Thanksgiving feast.  Fortunately, because he has been brought up to speed on the impact of his purchasing Fair Trade products, he didn’t blink at all at my suggestion he swap some of his standard ingredient purchases for Fair Trade food items.  One dessert was a White and Dark Chocolate Ice Box Cake (including Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate and 72% Dark Baking Chocolate).  But here, I’d like to share his other creation.

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake


1 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (he used Woodstock’s Organic Powdered Sugar)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
12 large egg whites
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar (he used Wholesome Sweeteners Organic & Fair Trade Sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (he used Frontier Vanilla Flavor)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (unfortunately, we could not find any Fair Trade instant varieties!)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (he used Divine 85% Dark Chocolate), grated on the fine holes of a hand grater, or in a rotary grater
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted as a chocolate drizzle (again, Divine Chocolate)

STEP ONE:  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray (notice we used a cake pan with a cathedral design).

STEP TWO:  Sift the cake flour and confectioners’ sugar together onto a piece of waxed paper three times; set aside.

STEP THREE:  In the 4 and 1/2 quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, using the wire whip attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed, adding the sugar gradually, until the whites are glossy and stiff, but not dry.  Add the vanilla and espresso powder and continue mixing until just incorporated.  Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

STEP FOUR:  In three batches, resift the flour/sugar mixture over the whites and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula until just combined.  Gently fold in the grated chocolate until combined.  Scrape the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.  Using a knife, loosen the cake form the pan.  Let sit on a cake rack for 5 minutes and invert onto another cake rack.  Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

STEP FIVE:  To garnish the cake, dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.

STEP SIX:  Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

The Walden School visit, with a Fair Trade show-and-tell

On November 14th, The Walden School in Media, PA, recieved their certificate declaring them a Fair Trade school! This makes The Walden School the first Fair Trade elementary school in the nation!  The next day Dr. Guertin, Aimee Ralph, Lavanya Mookerjee, Zanya Stephenson, and I (Louis Donaghue) stopped by to give The Walden School’s students a presentation on Fair Trade. Once we got to the school, we found out that not only would we be presenting to the students, but that Hal Taussig would also be attending our presentation. Hal (seen in the photo below with our Nittany Lion) has been at the front of the Fair Trade movement in America since day one, and he is the reason Media, PA, is the first Fair Trade town in America. There certainly was a large amount of pressure added to our presenters due to Hal’s pressence, but it was really a honor to meet him and show him the impact of his hard work in his community.

The format of our presentation at The Walden School was to do a skit where Dr. Guertin was the teacher and the rest of us were students in her class, and that day was Fair Trade Show and Tell. We each brought in a Fair Trade product to talk about. First, Lavanya brought in a Dolma Fair Trade scarf and some jewelry made from the tagua nut by Minga Fair Trade Imports, then Aimee came in wearing her favorite banana suit to talk about Fair Trade bananas. Next, I came in with a Senda Athletics Fair Trade soccer ball, and lastly, the Nittany Lion arrived to hand out stickers we custom made. The kids were great and asked some fantastic questions about Fair Trade.

Thanks to everyone at Walden School for letting us visit and talk to your awesome students. We are very happy to have another Fair Trade school in the area! And thank you to Hal Taussig for coming out to see us – you made this experience even more special.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern


Hand In Hand Soap talk @ Penn State Brandywine!

On Tuesday, November 13, at 11:30AM in the Tomezsko Classroom Building at Penn State Brandywine, co-founder Bill Glaab from Hand In Hand Soap came and talked to our students about his company. Hand In Hand Soap is a specialty soap company that uses Fair Trade ingredients in its product, and donates a bar of soap to a child living in Haiti every time you buy a bar of their high quality products. Bill and Courtney Glaab started Hand In Hand Soap less than two years ago, and the company has been growing ever since. Hand In Hand Soap focuses on donating their soap to Haiti because of the damage done to the country’s infrastructure as a result of recent natural diasters, including Hurricane Sandy. Because clean water is such a hard resource to have access to right now in Haiti, hygiene is extremely important when it comes to staying disease-free. And the worst part is the people who often suffer the most are children, with death tolls extremely high due to things like cholera which could be prevented with something as simple as a bar of soap. It is Hand In Hand’s vision to one day extend their reach to all parts of the globe in need.
Hand in Hand Soap seminar

Bill’s presentation at Penn State Brandywine focused on how Hand In Hand started and the company’s mission of providing people with sanitation challenges with the basic means to live healthier lives. Students also picked Bill’s brain for details and asked questions including how to run a small business such as his, what it has meant to him to be involved in such an impactful organization, and how do you manage to work side by side with your significant other. Bill was very open and rewarding as a speaker, he was not afraid to talk about past mistakes and life changing moments in his career.

Hand in Hand Soap seminar

Afterwards Bill sat down and had lunch with a small group of us while we casually talked about the influence of people like him and his wife. I think everyone walked away with something valuable after meeting with Bill, whether it was marketing tips, learning about Fair Trade, or becoming inspired to do something great yourself. Thanks to Courtney and Bill for helping further spread Fair Trade.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern

WANTED: Facebook and Twitter followers (for ice cream and chocolate!)

If you have been following our website, you’ll see posts by Dr. Guertin and her experiences at the recent Fair Trade Campaigns Conference for Fair Trade Towns & Universities in Chicago.  At the conference, all students at Fair Trade Colleges & Universities were issued a challenge, and at Penn State Brandywine, we love a good challenge!

We were all asked to take a major step forward with our campus Fair Trade campaigns.  It is education and awareness about Fair Trade that changes our purchasing patterns, so we are thoughtful about the impacts we can have on the lives of farmers and artisans.

The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers have decided to accept Challenge #1, the Social Media Challenge!  Fair Trade Colleges & Universities are challenging campaigns to increase the number of people following their Facebook or Twitter pages by 100.  We, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers, have decided to increase the number of followers in Facebook by 100 AND in Twitter by 100!

This is where we need your help!  If you are on Facebook and/or Twitter, please follow us to learn more about Fair Trade, what we do, and what YOU can do as an individual and with our group to make a global difference.  Spread the word to family and friends to follow us as well!


This is the number of “Likes” [53] our Fair Trade TrailBlazers Facebook page had at the start of the challenge (the last day of the conference), October 28, 2012.


This is the number of “Followers” [156] our Fair Trade TrailBlazers Twitter account had at the start of the challenge (the last day of the conference), October 28, 2012.

OK, maybe the “education and awareness” side isn’t enough to get you joining us online.  How about some Fair Trade chocolate and ice cream? (yum!)  For our first 50 new followers in Twitter and 50 new followers in Facebook, each person will entered into a raffle to win a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (any one of their Fair Trade flavors)!  For all of our 100 new follower in Twitter and Facebook, each person will win a free Fair Trade Penn State t-shirt and a selection of Fair Trade chocolate.  Now, we hope we have your attention, and that we can keep your attention, energy, and enthusiasm for Fair Trade.

Questions?  Please contact

2012 Fair Trade Campaigns Conference – Day 3

The third and final day of the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference in Chicago – filled with more great conversation and nervous conference attendees that were not sure if they would be able to leave Chicago (thanks to Hurricane Sandy).

The third day started with a Producer Panel, where banana farmers and artisans talked about how Fair Trade makes an impact in their communities.  Felipe Echeverri Zapata and Jorge William Restrepo represented Bananeras de Uraba in Columbia, Hannah Dodoo represented Global Mamas in Ghana, and a third panelist Andreas represented Minga Fair Trade Imports.  The group shared some fascinating information, such as the challenges of climate change and El Nino causing a loss of up to 30% of banana production, and shared some inspiring quotes, such as Hannah Dodoo telling us that “if you train a man, you train an individual, but if you train a woman, you change a nation” (I’m guessing she based the quote on this African proverb).

The Producer Panel ended with the panelists being asked about what they saw as future challenges for Fair Trade.  Hannah stated that Fair Trade must be embraced in all businesses, with continued purchasing from Global Mamas.  Andreas said that he did not see a challenge because many people know what the tagua is, but he stated what he really needs are better designs of products.  Jorge ended with the comment that those who market Fair Trade products are still “missing,” and the system still needs to be much more transparent.  It was inspiring to hear how Fair Trade has had a positive impact on their lives, and how they believe that this impact will continue in the future.

For the morning breakout session, I attended the Building a Strong & Sustainable Committee talk by Gwendolyn Tedeschi and Ben Thomas.  We at Penn State Brandywine certainly have built our committee, but sustaining a committee when most of our students leave after the first two years is a challenge for the future I am worried about.  The session had some great discussion about making sure the committee is diverse across students groups, faculty, administrators, food service and the campus bookstore.  There were also suggestions to add staff and alumni.  Finding an institutional anchor is key, as well as giving each student an important task/responsibility with the movement.  I am excited and nervous about the future of the Penn State TrailBlazers, but this information is great for me to bring back to my group as to what we need to keep focused with, and information that I can share with students at other campuses looking to form their own Fair Trade movements.

Our working lunch had everyone split into two groups – the Fair Trade Towns people in one room, and the Fair Trade Colleges & University people in another room.  I was excited to see Parker Townley, coordinator of Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, show us a new tool kit for campaigns looking to be approved, and I had some great conversation with the students from Penn State – University Park in attendance at the conference as to what they could do to keep the movement moving forward at their campus.  Having more online resources available should better assist all campaigns, especially the University Park group.

Parker ended his session with the “Let’s Get to Work!” challenge.  Parker is asking all university campaigns to create change by moving our campaigns forward by major steps.  We are asked to either increase the number of our social media followers, add more Fair Trade products or host two educational events, or reach out to two new groups to form new partnerships.  We are totally going for the social media challenge (stay tuned for a future blog post about this!).

The final session of the meeting was a closing keynote by Kirsten Moller, the co-founder of Global Exchange.  If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, it is a must!  She is so passionate about social, economic and environmental justice.  And her sharing of the Raise The Bar, Hershey! campaign energized the entire room.  I think her take home message was that we have done great work, but there is still much more to do and we can’t sit back and assume it will get done by others.

I think it is going to take me some time to digest all of the information and interactions from this conference.  I do not think that I have yet realized all of the impacts this conference has made on myself as an individual and the impacts it will make on my students, my campus, and possibly, even on the larger Fair Trade movement.  I wonder what I will be blogging about a year from now….

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


2012 Fair Trade Campaigns Conference – Day 2

Day 2 of the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference, our first full day of Fair Trade connections and conversations!  It has been exciting to be in Chicago, the second largest city in the world to be a Fair Trade City.

The morning began with a Panel Discussion: Building Partnerships for a Stronger Movement.  The panel consisted of individuals representing Local First Chicago, Pioneer Valley Local First, UC Davis/Sodexo, UC San Diego, Five for Water Foundation, Fair Trade Towns, and myself representing the “town and gown” connection of Media Fair Trade Town and Penn State Brandywine as a Fair Trade University.  The questions from the moderators and the audience were very thought-provoking and provided new ideas to think about as well as a refresher of items and programs already in place.  Even as a participant, here are some of the takeaways I had from the panel:

  • Go back and think about the term “partnerships”… What do partnerships mean to us? How do we define “what is a partnership”?
  • Who else can we work with to think outside of the box to make a partnership?
  • Partnerships are efficient if you have the same audience
  • Have an inclusive message, such as “buy local, buy fair”
  • Brush up on “appreciative inquiry”

It was off to Breakout Session 1, where I decided to stop in to hear more about the History & Scope of Fair Trade by Jackie DeCarlo (Catholic Relief Services) and April Linton (Author, Fair Trade from the Ground Up).  The presenters started with a reflective question, when did YOU first become involved in Fair Trade?, then moved in to a true/false format of posing questions to the audience to move us through where Fair Trade has been and where it stands now.  For example… TRUE OR FALSE…. Fair Trade only encompasses products that bear certifiers’ labels.  Jackie encouraged us to check out the CRS Fair Trade website for more information and history of Fair Trade.

For the next breakout session, I headed to Bringing Fair Trade to the Classroom.  The session was filled with university students and faculty sharing ideas and strategies for bringing Fair Trade to every discipline and making it either a part of a course or an entire course.  The group shared how courses in statistics, economics, geography, agriculture, and even writing could have a Fair Trade component.  Suggestions I am going to follow up with included checking out the anti-Fair Trade literature, the scholarly articles listed on the Fair Trade Resource Network website, seeing if our campus common read program can select a Fair Trade book, and looking for K-12 curriculum for outreach purposes on the Global Exchange website.

I then grabbed my box lunch and headed to the networking session by Green Mountain Coffee.  It was interesting to hear them talk about their Fair Trade varieties of coffee, but there needs to be more consumer demand for more Fair Trade options to be available, as Green Mountain makes less money off of this line (it costs more, but those costs are not passed along to the consumer).  Several people from Fair Trade Universities and Towns also shared how they are struggling to get attendance at showings of films on Fair Trade topics, and everyone in the room suggested strategies that could be pursued (partnering with other groups to increase attendance, perhaps just call it a film festival and not a Fair Trade film festival, etc.).  In the end, we got back to a message heard several times previously at the meeting – get the word out to consumers.

The Open Forum on Fair Trade had some interesting and challenging questions, and again, some great statements to think about:

  • Fair Trade is dialogue, transparency, and respect
  • Do we ask everyone to purchase more Fair Trade, or just have all purchases be Fair Trade, and is there a difference?
  • Moving forward, let’s not agonize, let’s organize
  • If Fair Trade is all over, the world will be at peace (this statement was made by Hannah Dodoo of Global Mamas)

For the Crafting & Tasting Demonstrations, I decided to attend the jewelry making session led by Minga Fair Trade Imports.  We learned about the tagua bead (actually an ivory-like nut harvested from palm trees indigenous to South America) and got to make our own necklaces, bracelets, key chains, and earrings.  Personally, I’m not a big jewelry-wearing person, but I love my tagua necklace I made, and each time I wear it I’ll be sure to tell the Fair Trade story behind it.

Next up was Courtney Lang reviewing the Go Bananas for Fair Trade Challenge and announcing the winners.  Guess what???  Penn State Brandywine and Fair Trade Boston were declared co-champions!  (more to come about this in a future blog post…)

Fair Trade Chicago gave a keynote on their stories and lessons about Fair Trade, sharing interesting activities such as mapping out where Fair Trade items are sold, connecting Fair Trade to job creation, establishing an education program, and bringing Fair Trade fashion shows and soccer balls to young adults and kids.  Way to go, Chicago!

The final activity for the night (phew! such a long, information-packed day!) was fascinating.  I attended a talk by Felipe Echeverri Zapata and Jorge William Restrepo from Bananeras de Uraba, (English summary), who discussed the benefits of Fair Trade for banana farmers in Columbia.  The Zapata family clearly cares deeply about their workers and has done much to help them.  Alas, the realities of climate change are impacting the growth of the bananas, preventing them from providing a constant number of bananas for the market.  I will certainly be keeping an eye out for their bananas! (they recommended checking out Sam’s Club and Walmart)

Another day filled with great information and connections.  Day 3 should be just as exciting – with Hurricane Sandy coming towards the east coast for an added bit of excitement!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

2012 Fair Trade Campaigns Conference – Day 1

Today, supporters of Fair Trade gathered in Chicago, Illinois, for the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference, “Building Partnerships for a Stronger Movement.”  My flight from Philadelphia to Chicago had several people heading to the gathering, with Ira Josephs representing the Fair Trade Towns USA side of the conference for Media, PA, and Sarah DeMartino representing Fair Trade Colleges & Universities for Penn State -University Park.

Sarah DeMartino with the Nittany Lion in Millennium Park in Chicago

I won’t summarize all the details of everything that was covered Day 1, as my head is still spinning and trying to process some really powerful information that was shared with the group.

We started the evening session with a Regional Networking Dinner.  Each person was to sit at tables with other people from their geographic region (in my case, the Mid-Atlantic region).  I ended up at a table filled with Penn State – University Park students working towards making their campus a Fair Trade University.  It was great to be able to share my insights and suggestions for connections they can make at their campus.  We also met some very energetic students from Saint Joseph’s University, and we looking forward to connecting with them more in the future and hopefully collaborating on future events.  I also saw someone with a Cabrini College sweatshirt… many universities are represented at this conference!

Next came the general welcome and announcements.  It’s always great to see Billy Linstead Goldsmith and Courtney Lang get up and speak, even if it is just for logistical announcements.  Their passion really keeps the rest of us excited for all things Fair Trade.  We received a welcome from the Fair Trade city of Chicago and heard comments/saw videos from Green Mountain Coffee, where the new battle cry for everyone this weekend is “great coffee, good vibes, pass it on!”  Their videos online are a MUST SEE!

Next up – the Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade Ice Cream Social (check out all of their Fair Trade flavors!) & Tweet-Up.  Ice cream and Twitter – you can’t go wrong with that combination!  Several people have been tweeting with the conference hashtag #FTCconf, and some people jumped in and joined Twitter this evening to get in the online conversations of 140 characters or less.

The Keynote Speaker for the evening was Kelsey Timmerman, the author of “Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that make our Clothes.”  I greatly appreciated how Kelsey made us all stop and think – where do the clothes we wear come from, and who made them?  What is his/her story?  The stories he shared about Solo and iPod Girl were very moving.  My favorite takeaways from his talk – use personal stories to inform others about Fair Trade, form a League of Superheros, and think carefully about being a “No Impact Man” to being someone that takes actions to have an impact.

I’m exhausted already!  But I’ll definitely be ready for Day 2 of the conference – so many more connections to make, so much more to learn!

One of my goals for Day 2 is to try to get names and email addresses of students from all the Pennsylvania schools that are here.  It’s time we do a better job partnering and networking in our own state to move Fair Trade forward.  So if you are reading this and are from a PA school, please leave a comment or email me at so we can add you to the list!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap, benefitting Planet Aid

We just finished our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap on campus, swapping gently used t-shirts for brand-new special-ordered Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia shirts!  All collected and donated shirts are being donated to Planet Aid, a nonprofit organization that collects and recycles used clothing to protect the environment and support global sustainable development.

We are still swapping out some last-minute t-shirts, but we have given out at least 70 Alta Gracia shirts and collected over 120 to donate to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

For those of you that follow our website, you may recall reading about our first t-shirt swap and our recommendations for how to host a t-shirt swap.  Instead of repeating that same information, we are going to add a few updates in this blog post.

  • As with our Go Bananas for Fair Trade event this semester, the students of BA 100 (Introduction to Business) helped out again in running the event.  We have to thank Professor Olear and her students once again for their enthusiasm and assistance!
  • We provided a three-fold brochure with every shirt describing Alta Gracia, Planet Aid, and included our mission and vision statements for the Fair Trade TrailBlazers.  It never hurts to put the information directly into people’s hands!
  • Tweet like crazy during your event!  We were thrilled to have @wearaltagracia and @planetaid both follow us and retweet our images and tweets during the event, as well as other groups.  This made us feel that we were really getting the word out and making an impact beyond our campus event.
  • We were disappointed that, although we sent out campus-wide emails and posted flyers, that the announcement didn’t appear on our campus website or campus Facebook page.  We have to remember to directly ask for the assistance with this publicity from our University Relations Office to get the maximum reach across the campus population.
  • And a friendly warning message… don’t assume that where you get your funding from for the t-shirts the first time will fund you a second time!  For our first t-shirt swap back in Spring 2012, our campus Student Acitivty Fee (SAF) committee funded us and even encouraged us to apply for more funding to get more shirts for a second event.  Fast forward to Fall 2012, a different SAF committee composition of students and faculty – we applied for more funding for more shirts, and we were completely denied funding – unless we became an official student club, which is not what the TrailBlazers are about (see Sarah’s post describing our campus identity).  Soooo… we had already special ordered the shirts through the campus bookstore, and the shirts were on the way, so we needed to find some funds, and fast.  We really need to thank the Laboratory for Civic Engagement for funding the student shirts, and our campus Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska for purchasing 50 shirts specifically for faculty and staff to swap.

If you would like to see more photos from our event, please visit our Flickr site.
Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Below, some of the shirts on their way to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

“Go Bananas for Fair Trade” Event

On October 9 and 10, we held our “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event on our campus. On Tuesday and Wednesday we gave out Equal Exchange Fair Trade bananas in front of the Lion statue. with the help of Professor Olear’s BA 100 (Introduction to Business) students. After two days of standing in the rain we gave out all 611 of our bananas. Thanks to the Fair Trade Town committee in Media who assisted us with securing the donation of all of the bananas.

On Thursday and Friday of the same week, the staff in the cafeteria baked up some delicious Fair Trade banana pancakes and muffin specials, and sold 55 of them. We have submitted our numbers in Fair Trade Towns USA, and are now waiting to see if we won the”Go Bananas for Fair Trade” challenge. If we win, Penn State Brandywine can select to receive free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for a year! So keep your fingers crossed for us.

Here is a picture of our beautiful setup for the banana hand out.

And here are our two awesome banana suits that worked really hard to give out bananas.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern

How to host a “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event on a college campus

The “Go Bananas for Fair Trade” event at Penn State Brandywine, a nationwide campaign organized by Fair Trade Towns USA, was a huge success! As we continue on our journey as a Fair Trade University, we continue to work this fall semester toward raising awareness of the Fair Trade movement on campus, specifically with the first-year students, staff and faculty. On October 9-10, 2012, we hosted an event where campus and community members could come to campus and receive a FREE Fair Trade banana, information about the different Fair Trade labels, and take a Fair Trade banana quiz on an iPad. Be sure to read about the lead up to our event and the resulting success! We hope that our experience can help other campuses learn how to best host a Fair Trade banana event!

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

For starters, we consulted the Go Bananas website and found their Resources page for setting up a banana event. This was very helpful! But there were some other considerations we had to make, especially doing this event on a college campus.

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Here are a few of the important lessons we learned about “Going Bananas” on campus:

  1. Get permission first! We CANNOT stress this enough!  Our campus has rules with regards to food and food service on campus, and we are sure yours does as well.  Some schools may require that all food be ordered and/or served through your dining services on campus.  We received permission from the business office on campus to obtain the Fair Trade bananas from off campus and to distribute them.
  2. Get the word out. As the Go Bananas campaign ran the first two weeks of October, this was far enough into the fall semester so we were not still trying to get the semester under way.  We used our campus’s social media sites our own social media sites, as well as the template from the Go Bananas website to create 11×17 inch posters with the banana logo/template.  Our local town’s Fair Trade committee was kind enough to include us in an announcement sent to our local paper.  It worked!  In a two-day period, we were able to distribute all of our bananas.
  3. Consider running the event for more than one day. We scheduled the event over two days, as we are a commuter campus and some of our students are only on campus Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, while other students are only on campus Tuesdays/Thursdays. By having the event over two days, we were able to reach as many student across our campus population as possible.
  4. Expand your volunteer base – connect with a faculty member/course. Early in the semester, we had a faculty member that teachers Introduction to Business ask if her students could help out with the Go Bananas event.  This was a first for the Fair Trade TrailBlazers, having a faculty member be proactive in contacting us and getting her students involved.  We decided that after we secured the bananas, we would let the business students RUN the event!  This was a great opportunity for us to spread the Fair Trade message to 40 first-semester freshmen in the course and to grow our volunteer base.  These students have been asking more and more questions about Fair Trade, and we bet we are going to see them at our future events!
  5. Purchase more bananas than you think you will need. We actually ran out of bananas before the second day of the event was complete.  Our original plan was to just distribute one banana per student/staff/faculty member, but we couldn’t say “no” to the handful of students that asked for bananas and flyers to provide to family members (again, we are a commuter campus where most of our students still live with their families).  This provided us an opportunity to spread the “fair trade” message beyond campus!
  6. Think about jazzing up your bananas with additional ingredients. We wanted to do chocolate-covered bananas, but we couldn’t figure out how to have warm, melted Fair Trade chocolate in the location we were doing the event for people to dunk their bananas in.  We saw some photos online of other universities doing some innovative slicing of bananas and pouring chocolate and sprinkles on top – what fun!  We think taking our event to the next level with more “trimmings” next time will bring a new twist for us the next time, to bring more people back for more bananas.
  7. Choose a good time, overlap with the breakfast/lunch hours. We set our event at 10AM to 1PM both days, so that people could grab a banana between our morning classes and when they arrived on campus.  Don’t be concerned if you don’t have a large group right when you begin, as people will filter in during the event – most likely, as we say, different students in the morning than over the lunch hour.
  8. Choose a good location on campus.  Typically, most groups on our campus set up tables to promote events right outside the doors of the building that has our cafeteria and athletic center.  We decided to set up outdoors in the center of campus, right next to our Lion Shrine statue.  This allowed us to be visible as students left most of our academic buildings between classes, and we could “spread out” and direct people walking on sidewalks to walk over to our display to grab a banana.  We certainly feel that location, location, location really mattered!
  9. Have a backup plan for bad weather.  We booked an indoor location to give out the bananas, in case of really bad weather.  Well, it actually ended up raining BOTH days of our event, but a little wet weather kept us outside and our energy was not dampened – we still had a successful event!  The only part we were disappointed with was that because of the rain, not many students stayed by our tables outside to eat their banana, they went inside instead.
  10. Have a banana costume (or two). We had two banana costumes (Halloween costumes) available for students to wear.  At first, we were not sure if anyone would wear the costume, but then it turned out we had more students that wanted to wear the costumes than we could manage!  Having very energetic students willing to go around campus in the costumes really helped pull people over to our tables and added alot of fun to the activity.  We were a popular spot for photos!
  11. Include an education component. We gave out a half-page flyer with every banana that provided some websites that talked about Fair Trade bananas and a list of where Fair Trade bananas can be purchased locally.  We also included an information table (pictured below) with samples of products and another handout listing the different Fair Trade certification labels and describing what these labels mean.  We even created a banana quiz for people to take on the iPad, which provided a fun way to bring technology and an interactive activity to the event.
  12. Include an advocacy component. Our original plan was to have a petition for our students to sign to get our campus dining services to serve Fair Trade bananas – but, as it turned out, they started serving Fair Trade bananas the week we had our event.  We’re thrilled that they are STILL serving Fair Trade bananas, and we hope this lasts the entire academic year.
  13. Be environmentally responsible – compost those banana peels.  We checked with the head of our campus landscaping, and it turns out he has two compost piles on campus.  He was more than willing to provide a wheel barrel for us to collect the banana peels so he could compost them (see photo).  This was a nice addition to our event and our campus environmental mission.
  14. Take lots of photos, and share the results. We took pictures and tweeted them during the event and posted a collection of photos in our flickr account after the banana event.  It’s a great way to document what we did and to share the results with others.  We hope the conversation continues and people are inspired to try their own event after seeing and reading what we did!

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Go Bananas for Fair Trade 2012

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Hand in Hand Sustainable Suds Seminar

Tuesday, November 13


Tomezsko Building Classroom Lounge (first floor), Penn State Brandywine

Directions to campus and campus map (Building #3)

The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers, in conjunction with the Campus Common Read Committee, will be hosting a seminar by the co-founder of Hand in Hand Soap Bill Glaab.  Hand in Hand Soap is a product certified by the Natural Products Association and Fair Trade USA (see this article on FTUSA’s website).

From Hand in Hand’s website:

Hand in Hand Soap was conceived in 2011 by two social entrepreneurs who believe that business can do so much more than just make money… Courtney and Bill set out to start a business based on sustainable giving.  By directly tying charitable donations to the sale of an everyday product, Hand in Hand is able to give soap to those in need and save lives without depending on a single donation.  For every bar purchased, Hand in Hand will donate a bar to save a life… Each bar of soap is 100% eco-friendly, biodegradable, and contains ingredients ethically harvested from sustainable resources.  We have created what we consider to be the most environmentally friendly and ethically conscious soaps on the market today.

On the day of the seminar, the campus is carrying out a one-day soap drive for My Neighbor’s Children, an organization Hand in Hand teams up with to deliver soap to orphaned children worldwide.  We are asking everyone to bring a bar of soap (or two or three or four!) to campus the day of the seminar to then be donated.

The seminar is free and open to the public.  If you have any questions, please contact Connie at (610) 892-1249 or via email at


“Fair Trade” additions to our campus library collection

We are thrilled to report that the John D. Vairo Library at Penn State Brandywine is adding books to their collection relating to the subject of Fair Trade! Students, the next time you are in the library, be sure to check these out!

Available in the CAT as an e-book:

  • Artisans and Fair Trade: Crafting Development (Littrell and Dickson, 2010) (Call Number – HD9999.H363 I46 2010) (book information)
  • Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies (Lyon and Moberg, 2010) (Call Number – HF1379.F342 2010 eb) (book information)
  • Brewing Justice (Jaffee, 2007) (Call Number – HD9199.D442J34 2007 EBOOK) (book information)

Print books in the stacks:

  • Fair Trade: A Beginners Guide (DeCaralo, 2007) (Call Number – HF1413.D429 2007) (book information)
  • The Fair Trade Revolution (Bowes, 2011) (Call Number – HF5417.F35 2011) (book information)
  • Fighting the Banana Wars (Lamb, 2009) (Call Number – HD9011.5.L35 2009 – ordered and arriving soon!) (book information)
  • Fair Trade from the Ground Up: New Markets for Social Justice (Linton, 2012) (Call Number – HF1379.L563 2012 – ordered and arriving soon!) (book information)

If anyone has any recommended books we should add to our collection, please comment on this post.  Thank you!

Fair Trade Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Alright so this Saturday my girlfriend and I decided to bake up some glorious Fair Trade pumpkin bread. Now before we get started, there is no such thing as Fair Trade pumpkins. But a good number of general baking ingredients are made under Fair Trade standards. We found all of our Fair Trade ingredients at the local Whole Foods store. This recipe makes about two large loaves.


  • 3 cups white Fair Trade sugar*
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. Fair Trade vanilla extract*
  • 3.5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 9 oz. bag of Fair Trade chocolate chips*
  • 2 tsp. ground Fair Trade cinnamon*
  • 1 tsp. Fair Trade nutmeg*
  • 1 tsp. salt

* =Fair Trade


Step 1

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease two large bread pans.

Step 2

In a large bowl, mix sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs together. Then add in everything else except the chocolate chips. Beat until smooth. Then fold in chocolate chips.


Step 3

Pour mix evenly into the two greased pans. Put the pans in the oven for 1 hour, and enjoy a few of your favorite pumpkin beers while you wait.


Step 4

Make sure the loaves are cooked all of the way through. If they are not done cooking just put them back in the oven for five or ten minutes. When you know they are done cooking, leave them in the pan to cool for a while before touching them.

If you did everything right they should look like this! Hope you enjoy this easy Fair Trade recipe.


Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern


Hershey Announces 100% Certification by 2020!

That’s right you read correctly, Hershey has announced that they plan to be 100% Fair Trade certified by the year 2020, and that by next year they should have one of their top name brands certified. For years the Raise The Bar, Hershey! campaign has been actively pressuring the chocolate company to reevaluate their child slavery practices and work towards a more ethical system.

Hershey stated that they will make this change in small increments over the next eight years, but did not address how they will do this or what certifications they seek to gain.While there is still a lot to question about Hershey’s statement, this is definitley a victory for Raise The Bar, Hershey!

Read the article here

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern


Ten Thousand Villages hosts a Going Bananas Cook-Off

As part of the Go Bananas for Fair Trade campaign, Ten Thousand Villages on State Street in Media, PA, will be hosting a Going Bananas Cook-Off!  During “Second Saturday,” October 13, bakers/chefs are asked to bring their Fair Trade banana creation, made with at least two additional Fair Trade items, to the Ten Thousand Villages store on State Street before 12:30PM.  All entries will be judged between 1PM and 4PM by the staff and store customers based on use of fair trade ingredients, presentation, creativity, and taste.

To learn more, please visit:

To find Fair Trade bananas locally, please visit Whole Foods, Swarthmore Co-op, or Martindale’s Natural Market in Springfield.  Most Sam’s Clubs in Pennsylvania and Delaware also sell Fair Trade bananas.



Fair Trade Month 2012

Happy Fair Trade Month everyone!  We’re pleased to be able to participate in the 9th annual Fair Trade month.  This is the first time Penn State Brandywine is joining the national voice during October in making ethical purchases to provide a “hand up, not a hand out” for workers across the globe.  Fair Trade USA has some helpful hints with 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Fair Trade Month, and we have found our own ways to get involved appropriate for our campus community.

First up – we are Going Bananas for Fair Trade!  We are joining the Fair Trade Towns & Universities campaign with what we are sure is going to be a fun event on campus.  We’ll have 400 bananas to give out to 400 people to consume, along with an information table to educate people about where to purchase Fair Trade bananas locally, learn about Fair Trade labels on products, and even take a banana quiz on iPads!  If you are in the area, feel free to swing by our campus (Penn State Brandywine) between 10AM and 1PM on October 9 and 10, and look for us at the Lion Shrine in the middle of campus.  We are going to be environmentally responsible with the 400 banana peels – we will be composting all those peels on campus!  Look for photos during our event on our social media sites.

Next up in Fair Trade Month – our second Fair Trade t-shirt exchange!  This event was so popular in the spring semester, we are back asking for slightly worn t-shirts to be swapped for a Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia t-shirt (yes, these shirts will say Brandywine on them!).  All collected t-shirts will be donated to Planet Aid.  Stay tuned for dates and times of the event in late October.

At the end of the month, Dr. Laura Guertin and one of our original Fair Trade TrailBlazers, Sarah DeMartino (now at the Penn State University Park campus) will be attending the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference in Chicago.  Look for them to bring back more innovative ideas for education/awareness/advocacy of Fair Trade!



From HuffPost – Beyond Volunteering: Civic Engagement in Action

If you have not had a chance yet to read this article, I strongly encourage you to do so.  It is written by Dr. John Anderson, President of Alfred State, titled Beyond Volunteering: Civic Engagement in Action.

You might already be wondering what this post has to do with Fair Trade – and I’ll get to that.  But let’s start with Dr. Anderson’s discussion of volunteering versus civic engagement, terminology that is easily confused by students, faculty, and the general public.  I have always told students that volunteering is usually a “one and done” service event, where only a band-aid fix is applied to a problem – for example, a canned food drive.  Now volunteering is certainly important.  We NEED to have food drives to help the food insecure in our region, but a food drive does not help address or make progress in solving the issue of hunger or eliminating the need for these collection drives.  This is where I tell students civic engagement comes in, using the content knowledge and skill sets we’re learning in college and applying them to real-world situations to find sustainable solutions to local-to-international challenges.

And Dr. Anderson does a great job addressing the differences between volunteering and civic engagement.  He relates volunteering to the term “what” – what are the problems?  What can be done?  But to get to civic engagement, that’s where the “why” and “how” comes in – why does this circumstance exist?  Why is there a need?  How can action be taken to change the current situation?  How can a solution be put into place?

Students involved in Fair Trade University campaigns across the United States (and the globe!) play a strong role in civic engagement on their campuses.  These students are leading events on campus, online, and in the community.  Students are helping others make informed purchases of Fair Trade products from food to clothing to athletic equipment.  Through events such as Alta Gracia t-shirt swaps (our what and how) and Fair Trade s’mores (our what and how) to the upcoming Going Bananas for Fair Trade event (being organized by an entire course on campus), my own Penn State Brandywine students are learning that education and awareness can lead to advocacy and the change they want to see.

Imagine how much further we could move the Fair Trade movement with even more civic engagement on college campuses.  Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for reminding us that we need to continue to ask “why.”

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


Bandi Mbubi: Demand a fair trade cell phone

Your mobile phone, computer and game console have a bloody past — tied to tantalum mining, which funds the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Drawing on his personal story, activist and refugee Bandi Mbubi gives a stirring call to action. (Filmed at TEDxExeter, LINK to this TEDx Talk).

You can also visit the website of Bandi’s organization, Congo Calling, to learn more.

Whole Foods Supports Child Slavery?

Most people that follow the Fair Trade movement know that Hershey’s chocolate  has been accused of using child slave labor for a long time now. Many petitions have been aimed towards trying to change this. Recently Hershey’s has made  a new brand of chocolate, trying to appeal towards their ethically minded buyers, that wears the Rainforest Alliance symbol called Dagoba. Many thought that Hershey’s was taking a step in the right direction, until it was discovered that even this more ethical version of their chocolate bar, along with another Hershey’s side brand named Scharffenberger, was using child slave labor.

As a response many markets and buyers of Dagoba and Scharffenberger boycotted the products and have signed petitions trying to change this. When Whole Foods was offered a spot on the list to petition Hershey’s crimes many were shocked when they withheld their support. Whole Foods is a large advocate for the Fair Trade movement, even having their certification labels call Whole Trade. Fair Trade fans are now asking where Whole Foods loyalties lie, with ethically minded consumers and poorly treated workers around the world, or big companies who use slave labor?

No one can disregard everything Whole Foods has done so far to benefit Fair Trade, but it makes one wonder if they honestly believe in these ethical practices, or if they see them as a convenient vehicle for more sales.

Voice your opinion here.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern

At the “local” Noodles & Company – China Mist Iced Teas

This is a post our Penn State followers in State College will enjoy!  This summer, during one of my trips to State College, I noticed a Noodles & Company under construction and getting ready to open at the intersection of College Ave and Burrowes Street.  Seeing as the only Noodles & Company in Pennsylvania is in Pittsburgh, I’m excited this restaurant is moving across the state.  One of my former students, Abbey Dufoe, the first student to do an independent study on Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine (now she’s at the University Park campus), told me that she was able to score a ticket to a pre-opening party to sample some of the food.  While she was feasting on her pasta, she sent me this DM in Twitter:

Leave it to Abbey, always having her eye out for Fair Trade items!  I asked her what brand the beverage is, and she tweeted back:

This is a brand I’m not familiar with, and there is nothing on the Noodles & Company website about serving Fair Trade items.  I wonder where else this beverage exists, especially in southeast PA.  But it is nice for us to now be aware of another Fair Trade beverage, China Mist Iced Tea.  If you spot this brand, please post a comment and let us know!

– Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Weis Market has (limited) Fair Trade food items

Recently, a local grocery store closed and a new Weis Market opened in its place (you can find it on our Google Map in Conshohocken).  I remember shopping at Weis when I was an undergraduate student at Bucknell University in central PA, but I had not seen one here in southeastern PA.  So, I decided to check it out to look for – of course – Fair Trade food items on the shelves!

At first, I was disappointed – I didn’t see any Fair Trade certified bananas, baking chocolate chips, or tea.  Finally, I turned down an aisle and I see this:
Coffee at Weis Grocery Store

Not only did I see the Fair Trade logo that I had been looking for, but it was on a store brand!  Then, I came across some Green Mountain K-cups, Honest Tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Larabar bars, and Green & Black’s organic chocolate.  The selection of Fair Trade food items is probably the most limited I have seen in an area grocery store, but at least there are some Fair Trade items on the shelves.  Hopefully, in the near future, Weis Markets will be proud of their Fair Trade products, do a better job promoting the ones they have, and add even more for consumers to purchase.

– Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


2012 Fairly Educated Conference Proposes Fair Trade for All Colleges

Hello everyone! My name is Louie Donaghue, Penn State Brandywine’s Fair Trade Intern for the fall semester. I am a Letters, Arts & Science (LAS) major in my senior year with a minor in Environmental Inquiry. I will be regularly updating the blog posts and organizing events with Dr. Guertin. I want to thank Sarah DeMartino for starting off the Fair Trade Intern program so well and I am excited to pick up where she left off.

My first blog post is going to focus on an outcome from the 2012 Fairly Educated Conference held in Australia. At the conference, Fairly Educated announced the start of a new campaign to have every college campus in Australia and New Zealand reach Fair Trade status by the end of 2015. The first step in the Fairly Educated plan was to launch a petition asking Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability and the Tertiary Access Group, the two most influential education groups in the area, to give them full support in their mission. Here is a link to the petition

Is Fairly Educated’s plan possible or too ambitious? I think that Fairly Educated’s plan is very ambitious and improbable, but it’s exactly what the Fair Trade movement needs right now. One of the bigger challenges that Fair Trade faces is that not enough people support it. Even if Fairly Educated fails to reach their goal and they only get half of the campuses on board, this campaign will still be a success.

If Fairly Educated does succeed would that mean something like this would be possible in America? Maybe one day, but definitely not in the next three years.

Contributed by Louis Donaghue, Fair Trade Intern


Bruce Crowther: Fair Trade Way

Between Friday 24 and Wednesday 29 August, four Garstang Oxfam Group members and original pioneers of The Fair Trade Way will walk the route again to promote fair trade and trade justice and raise money for Oxfam and The FIG Tree in Garstang. They will be accompanied by dedicated Oxfam campaigner Push Krishnamurthy and take part in storytelling events along the way.

In this video, Bruce Crowther, founder of the Fairtrade Town movement and instrumental in establishing Garstang, UK, as the world’s first Fair Trade town, talks about walking the Fair Trade Way.

Follow the journey and find out more:


My Last Post: Reflecting on My Time as an Intern and Celebrating USFT Affiliation

This is both a very happy and bittersweet blog post. It will be my last post as Fair Trade Intern at Penn State Brandywine, as I am moving up to the Penn State campus in State College in two days. In all honesty, I could not have asked for a better way to spend my summer.  Once you learn about Fair Trade, it’s hard to shop or to look at products in the same way. I can’t walk into a store without thinking about the story behind each product and about the people who made them. I wonder if the clothes I wear or the car I drive were made by workers who were treated equally or poorly. Fair Trade has made me realize the power I have as a consumer by making an educated and ethical purchase. I hope that through my work at Penn State Brandywine I have made other people more aware of what they buy and the impacts of their choices. I hope that I furthered my community’s understanding of Fair Trade, and I hope to continue to spread Fair Trade when I move to University Park and beyond.

In some ways my Fair Trade experience has come full circle.  Earlier this month the TrailBlazers submitted an application for affiliation with United Students for Fair Trade. USFT was the first organization that we had reached out to on our path to understanding and supporting Fair Trade, and their advice and guidance have been very important to our growth as a campus that supports Fair Trade.  I was one of the first people to contact USFT, and spoke with Maria Louzon the National Coordinator. It was to our immense delight that USFT approved our application and the TrailBlazers are now officially affiliates.

We are so happy to be working with USFT, the first organization to help us gain footing in this ever changing movement, and we look forward to working with them in the near future.

Our next intern will be Louis Donaghue, one of the original TrailBlazers, and we are thrilled that he will be on board this fall to help further the movement on campus. Keep an eye out for his posts!

Anyway, it has been a pleasure interning for Penn State Brandywine. I have certainly learned a lot and will continue to do good things in the world of Fair Trade!

Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern


Fair Trade Ingredients Creme Brulee

As promised at the start of summer, we made Fair Trade Ingredient Creme Brulee!

For this recipe I made 4 ramekins of creme brulee.


  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks

I have used a few creme brulee recipes in the past, and have made up my own way of concocting creme brulee as I work with a temperamental oven. If your oven behaves itself, then check out this recipe for better cooking directions.

As the recipe above suggested, I added the yolks and the sugar together. However, I like to do things a little bit differently when adding the vanilla. I put 1/4 of the vanilla in with the egg and sugar mixture, and 1/4 in with the heavy whipping cream while bringing it to a broil. I started doing that for the Vegan Chai Cupcakes to enhance the flavor of the Vanilla Soy Milk I use, and it’s a habit that I’ve held onto, though it is not necessary for the creme brulee recipe. I stirred the sugar, vanilla, and yolks together until it was creamy and appeared a little bit darker in color (a darker orange).

After the egg mixture was taken care of, I poured the heavy cream into a small saucepan (though if you are making more creme brulee I would suggest a medium sauce pan) and stirred it continuously for 3-4 minutes. I took the cream off of the stove just before it began to broil. I then poured the cream into the egg mixture a little bit at a time, stirring it together as I did so.

I then put the ramekins into a roasting pan and filled the pan with water. The water should go halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and this ensures that the creme cooks evenly. I cooked the creme at about 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Most recipes I have seen suggest cooking creme brulee anywhere from 250-350 degrees for 25-45 minutes. Depending on your kind of oven. the temperature and time may vary, though I would suggest about 300-325 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that creme is set and firm. I will usually slide the roasting pan out and gently poke the creme with a spoon to see if it’s ready. A little bit of wiggle in the center of the creme is okay, as the creme will continue to firm up when you put it in the refrigerator, but you don’t want a lot of wiggle.

After the creme brulee has finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the bath and cool for 30 minutes or so. Once the 30 minutes are up, wrap the ramekins up in cling wrap and put them in the fridge. I like to give the creme four hours or so to finish firming up, though four hours isn’t a requirement. The recipe I listed above says two hours, and that works as well.

When you are ready to torch the creme, spread a thin layer of sugar over top of the creme. I use a cooking torch to melt the sugar, and I make sure to keep the flame moving. Don’t let it hover over one area of sugar too long, as it melts and burns quickly.

For our Fair Trade Ingredients, I used my favorite Wholesome Sweetener Organic Fair Trade Sugar and Frontier’s Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Extract .

Because Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic Fair Trade Sugar is a little bit coarse, I put the 1 1/4 cups into a food blender to make it finer.


My brother kindly showing off the creme brulee!


The finished product!

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Going Bananas with Social Media

Wednesday (August 15, 2012) evening, Fair Trade Towns USA hosted a webinar about their Go Bananas Challenge and went over some tips for effectively using social media for spreading Fair Trade awareness during Fair Trade Month in October and during the rest of the year.

We were particularly interested in the Go Bananas Challenge portion of the webinar, as the TrailBlazers are hoping to participate and host some events on campus, but the discussion on social media tips turned out to be just as helpful. Fair Trade Towns USA pointed out a Tool Kit  they have on their website for brainstorming ideas for events, hosting events, and a wealth of other information.  Our plan, at this point, is to do something with Fair Trade Banana splits (can you imagine… Fair Trade Bananas, Fair Trade ice cream, and Fair Trade chocolate sauce!), though we are still muddling through some logistics and other ideas. We’ll post more about  our exact plans closer to October (and after we meet with our food vendor on campus), but the webinar got us thinking about what events might be doable, how do we want to educate our campus population, who we should be contacting, etc. We hope that the Tool Kit above is as helpful for everyone else as it was for us!

But, the point we are most eager to share and blog about is actually the social media aspect of the webinar. Obviously, the TrailBlazers have been very much active in the social media world, and we are always looking for tips and ways to improve our outreach. We found two points in particular to be helping, but for the full guideline list, click here .

One point that really stuck out to us was food. Food posts and photos are some of the more popular topics in the world of social media. A significant chunk of the hits and likes on our own website have been for our food events and recipes, and we had wondered for a while if this was just a phenomena we were experiencing or if it was a common occurrence in the wider community.  Fair Trade Towns USA confirmed that food is a hot-button topic on the internet, and people love to look at food and talk about food. Luckily, when talking about Fair Trade, food comes up often, so sharing food related posts is easy and a great way to get people engaged. As budding social media users, all of us TrailBlazers recommend adding some food flair now and again to get people’s attention.

Fair Trade Towns USA also talked about the power of a positive post. Positive posts get more retweets and shares than negative posts, and in the world of Fair Trade, shining the movement in the best light is important for keeping consumers and the general public feeling good about Fair Trade.

We especially liked these points because they can easily be tied into the Go Bananas Challenge. In addition to hosting events, we need to effectively get the word out there, and social media has been a wonderful tool for getting people aware of what we’re doing and involved. Getting our campus involved with food while educating on the positive impacts of Fair Trade bananas will hopefully get more of our community (and the wider community!) involved with Fair Trade.

Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

How to host a Fair Trade s’more event on a college campus

The Fair Trade s’more event at Penn State Brandywine, Global Exchange’s We Want More from Our S’mores, was a huge success! As we continue on our journey as a Fair Trade University, we have worked all summer toward raising awareness of the Fair Trade movement on campus, specifically with the staff and faculty. On August 16, 2012, we hosted an event where campus and community members could come to campus to make a Fair Trade s’more and hear about the challenges in the cocoa industry. Be sure to read about the lead up to our event and the resulting success! We hope that our experience can help other campuses learn how to best host a Fair Trade s’more event!

IMG_Fair Trade S'mores Event6995

For starters, we consulted the Global Exchange website and found their step-by-step checklist for setting up a s’more event.  This was very helpful!  But there were some other considerations we had to make, especially doing this event on a college campus in the summer.

Fair Trade S'mores Event

Here are a few of the important lessons we learned about hosting a s’more event on campus:

  1. Get permission first! We CANNOT stress this enough!  Our campus does not have any fire pits or grills.  We checked with the director of business services on campus to see if we could have permission to toast marshmallows (we saw instructions online on how to soften marshmallows in the microwave, but we knew it would not be the same).  We received permission to use a propane grill outdoors in an open area, as long as campus security was present with a fire extinguisher the entire time (and he was!).  The propane grill did not have the “flame” that is typically associated with making s’mores, but the marshmallows did get soft and gooey!  Be sure to check with the appropriate office on campus to see when, where, and how you can make s’mores.
  2. Get the word out. As the We Want More from Our S’mores campaign ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the timing made it difficult to get many students involved, but a great opportunity to get faculty and staff on board.  We used our campus’s social media sites our own social media sites, and sent an announcement to our local town’s Fair Trade committee.  We also emailed the faculty and staff email lists on campus to reach the people we knew would be around in the summer, and we sent specific invitations to campus administrators and alumni.  It worked!  We had 40 people in attendance, with a great mix of faculty, staff, and some students that were on campus that day.
  3. Have a RSVP form, but only use it as an estimate. We sent out a link to our online RSVP form in our emails and social media sites, so we could figure out how much food to purchase.  We had 25 people fill out our online RSVP form, but as I just stated, 40 people showed up!  Once word of mouth started spreading around campus about the event, we think people decided close to the date of the event to attend, and by that point, forgot about the RSVP.  And of the people that did RSVP, approximately 10 of them did not attend.  So although the RSVP form was a great idea, it did not exactly help with our planning (see our next point….)  But we certainly didn’t mind the overflow of people, because the more we can reach out to, the better!
  4. Purchase more ingredients than the RSVP says you will need. Because we had more people show up than responded to the invitation, we were relieved we bought extra ingredients!  And, we saw some people randomly chomping down on giant marshmallows and chocolate, in more of a deconstructed s’more form, which was fine by us!
  5. Think about jazzing up your s’mores with additional ingredients. We also purchased Fair Trade bananas from Whole Foods and organic strawberries, which allowed us the opportunity to show the Fair Trade logo to attendees, to let them know where to purchase these food items, themselves, and to discuss the developing Domestic Fair Trade certification movement (since there are no Fair Trade strawberries at this time).
  6. Choose a good time, overlap with the lunch hour. We set our event at 12:30PM-1:30PM, so that people could eat their lunch first and then come over for a s’more.  This also worked well for staff/faculty that were in lunchtime meetings from Noon-1PM.  We had many people come at different times in the hour, and we didn’t finish cleaning up until 2PM.  So don’t be concerned if you don’t have a large group right when you begin, as people will filter in during the event.
  7. Include an education component. We gave a short talk about what is going on with child slave labor in the cocoa industry, letting people know which chocolate companies are Fair Trade, which ones are making progress, and which ones have much progress that still needs to be made.
  8. Include an advocacy component. We had several copies of the Global Exchange petition for the Raise the Bar campaign.  By having multiple copies around the area we hosted the event, we were able to fill three pages with signatures.  This allowed people to not only learn about Fair Trade chocolate, but to get involved by making their voice heard.
  9. Take lots of photos, and share the results. We took pictures and tweeted them during the event and posted a collection of photos in our flickr account after the s’more fest.  It’s a great way to document what we did and to share the results with others.  We hope the conversation continues and people are inspired to try their own event after seeing and reading what we did!

Fair Trade S'mores Event

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Celebrating Ethical Chocolate with S’mores at Penn State Brandywine

Today (August 16, 2012) the Fair Trade TrailBlazers and the Penn State Brandywine Community participated in Global Exchange’s “We Want More from our S’mores” event.  This initiative was started by Global Exchange to put pressure on the chocolate industry to stop using child labor and to continue to seek more ethical means of producing chocolate (see our previous post for more details). From 12:30 to 1:30, faculty, staff, and students gathered in the Vairo Library courtyard and made Fair Trade S’mores to help Global Exchange’s campaign.  Fair Trade Equal Exchange chocolate (the dark mini bars) was provided as well as Fair Trade Bananas from Whole Foods. Yes, you read correctly. Fair Trade Bananas! These were not just any Fair Trade S’mores, but gourmet Fair Trade S’mores. In addition to jumbo sized marshmallows and boxes and boxes of graham crackers, organic strawberries were provided (sadly not Fair Trade. All the more reason why we need a domestic Fair Trade system). By the end of the event, 40 people attended, 45 s’mores were eaten, and 25 people signed the We Want More from Our S’mores petition. It was truly a wonderful and successful event!

Here are some photos from this afternoon!

Here are all of the lovely ingredients we used in our Fair Trade S’mores!

A completed S’more.

Here we have a group of students and faculty toasting some marshmallows.

TrailBlazer Jack Ramaika enjoys a Fair Trade S’more!

Fair Trade Intern and TrailBlazer Sarah DeMartino talks to the crowd about the controversy in the Chocolate Industry and the importance of the “We Want More from our S’mores” event.

Louis Donaghue (TrailBlazer and Fall Fair Trade Intern), Jack Ramaika (TrailBlazer), and Sarah DeMartino (TrailBlazer and Summer Fair Trade Intern) pose for a photo during the event.

So Many S’mores eaten!

To see more photos, check out our Flickr page!

Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

A Question about Chocolate

It’s question time! So, Dr. Laura Guertin and I were in Wegmans grocery store today, shopping for our campus fair trade s’mores event tomorrow, and we were wondering about some missing food labels. In our mad dash around the store, we came across Hershey’s Bliss chocolate, but found no Rainforest Alliance label on the packaging (Dove chocolates, we discovered on accident, does have a brand of chocolate that is Rainforest Alliance certified).  To our understanding, Bliss chocolate is Rainforest Alliance certified, so why wouldn’t the labeling appear on packaging? Has anybody seen Bliss chocolates with the labeling, or does anybody know why the label wouldn’t be included?

Our second question came up in the international section of Wegmans. I had spotted UK Cadbury  chocolates the other week and wanted to check out their Fair Trade label. However, just like Bliss, I couldn’t find a Fair Trade label for the UK Cadbury milk chocolate bars. If the bars are really from the UK and are the right brand of chocolate, why wouldn’t the label appear on the packaging?

Has anybody else out there had any similar questions? Does anybody know what is going on with these labels?

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Seeking Ethical Chocolate – A Fair Trade S’more Event!

The chocolate industry has been a growing point of controversy and change. An awareness of how chocolate is made and who makes it has stirred the need to move the industry in a more positive and humane direction.  Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, and it is estimated that around 1.8 million children are working on cocoa farms. In a study conducted (additional article) by Tulane University, it was determined that some of the children are working in very poor and often dangerous conditions, sustaining injuries, and some have been trafficked onto these farms (additional article).

There has been an outcry for the chocolate industry to end child labor from many different organizations and groups. Some major chocolate companies involved with child labor are Mars, Cadbury, Nestle, and Hershey, and there has been some movement from each of these companies to mitigate the issue.

Mars has promised to be child-labor free by 2020 and is working with the U.S. Department of Labor and the International Labour Organization to understand the complexities of child labor and find “…more effective strategies to combat trafficking…”.

Britain’s popular Cadbury  has also taken steps to promote a more ethical chocolate industry and became Fair Trade (additional article), putting Fair Trade certified chocolate on store shelves back in 2010 .

Nestle partnered with the Fair Labor Association to identify if they have child laborers working under them and hopes to resolve any child labor issues they may have been supporting.

Hershey’s chocolate has also begun to take steps to amend its business practices. Hershey has agreed to sell “Bliss” chocolate, a Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate bar. It has also pledged $10 million over the next five years to help educate farmers in West Africa and improve their trade to fight child labor. As America’s biggest chocolate producer, Hershey is under a lot of  pressure to continue to make steps toward fighting child labor. On June 12, 2012, leaders from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Global Exchange, Green America, the International Labor Rights Forum, and the National Guestworker Alliance, called for Hershey to step up and make reforms for its chocolate production and “…ongoing use of abusive child labor…”.

The “We Want more from our S’Mores” event was started by Global Exchange on July 4, 2012 to further encourage Hershey to move in a more ethical direction. The event calls for making Fair Trade ingredient s’mores and runs until Labor Day. For more information about having your own event, click here.

The Penn State Brandywine TrailBlazers will be participating in this event to promote a more ethical chocolate system, and hopes to not only encourage Hershey to continue to grow and expand its effort to fight child labor, but the rest of the chocolate industry as well. Our event will be held 12:30PM on Thursday August 16, 2012, in the Vairo Building Courtyard on the Penn State Brandywine campus. If you would like to attend for some additional discussion and to create your own Fair Trade s’more (or two, or three, or four…), please RSVP here!

UPDATE: Article on on National S’more Day: Make Yours Fair Trade (08/10/2012)

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

A Call for your Support from Fairly Educated!

I recently received an email from United Students for Fair Trade, asking for me to support Fairly Educated’s effort to make every university in Australia and New Zealand a Fair Trade University by the end of 2015. We are asking for your support as well and encourage you to sign their petition on Change.Org. This petition seeks the support from “…the two most influential organizations in the tertiary education sector”, the Tertiary Access Group (TAG) and Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), in passing resolutions agreeing to help their members become Fair Trade. It is an important effort to support as the global impact on farmers and workers would be incredible! Please share it and sign.

Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Now advertising – Honest Tea

I was watching TV a few weeks ago and did a double-take when this commercial came on:

Honest Tea!  I first became aware of Honest Tea when our campus began its journey to become a Fair Trade University.  I started noticing the product in local grocery stores with the “bucket boy” Fair Trade logo (which, by the way, Honest Tea is staying with Fair Trade USA certification).  And I was really disappointed that I couldn’t make it to NYC in April for The Great Recycle event – I applaud their efforts for awareness and action when it comes to recycling the bottles the tea comes in.  But I had never seen any advertising for Honest Tea – until this TV commercial appeared.  And not only has Honest Tea released its first television commercial, I saw a billboard today in Philadelphia for Honest Tea.

The advertising does not focus on the teas that feature Fair Trade ingredients, but all the bottles I have seen in the commercial and on the billboards show bottles with the Fair Trade logo.  I wonder if this will increase purchases of the Fair Trade varieties?  It would be great to see a mention or focus on the Fair Trade line of Honest Tea in this new advertising campaign – it seems that Honest Tea is missing an opportunity to inform consumers what this icon means on the bottle and what it means to the global community.

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin


Book Review: Global Girlfriends

From time to time, our students will be prepare book reviews of Fair Trade books and books on other related topics.  Here, Fair Trade TrailBlazer Sara Neville shares her thoughts about Global Girlfriends.

Edgar, Stacey. (2011). Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 290 pages. ISBN: 978-0-312-62173-5.

Stacey Edgar’s book, Global Girlfriends, is a testament to the power of determination and networking. After discovering her passion for helping others, Edgar worked as a social worker for years until she realized how unfulfilling it was. She hoped to help those who suffered intense injustices in our world. She hoped to reach out to the women in our world who are treated so unfairly, so she decided to start her own business. With little more than some research about fair trade under her belt, Edgar invested a tax refund into a business involving the import of goods from global artisan groups run by women. She hoped to change the lives of these women, and over the past eight years, her business has expanded, bringing hope and prosperity to the lives of women worldwide.

Edgar’s book chronicles her journey from Peace Corps reject to panic-stricken mother to business-savvy “global girlfriend.” Her goal was to buy products from women in areas afflicted by political unrest, poverty, the horrors of the sex trade, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, and gender inequality. By buying products from these hard-working women, she hoped to begin to eradicate the feminization of poverty worldwide. Fair trade allows farmers, artisans, and other workers worldwide the fair chance at life. Rather than being exploited by large companies, the fair trade movement works with small co-ops and farms, allowing workers to receive fair wages which help them live more fruitful, prosperous lives.

Edgar did not know much about how to start a business. Her passion for poverty-stricken areas of our world led her to research the fair trade movement. She connected with women’s groups online, and brainstormed with her friends and family who shared the same interest in helping women worldwide. She looked to successful organizations like Women for Women International, and allowed guidelines created by UNICEF and the World Health Foundation to lead her in the right direction when choosing areas to work. Edgar teamed up with her neighbor, Mary-Mike, who had studied business and could help her with spreadsheets, finances, and importing and exporting goods from global women’s groups.

Global Girlfriends reads like an email from a close friend. Edgar effectively tells her story through personal interactions with women in countries like India and Nepal. She shares her fears and successes, her hesitations and greatest ideas. Though the book is not a piece of stellar writing, Edgar was able to illustrate exactly what she aimed for: the poverty that breaks down so many people in our world today, the struggles she faced as a privileged American consumer, and the courage it took to step forward and decide to make change in today’s world.

Personally, I believe the only qualifications a person has to have to make social change are passion, perseverance, and an ounce of business savvy. Stacey Edgar was more than qualified to start this business, and has inspired others by her efforts. I see social change tricky to navigate. Many people believe it is hard to do, but Edgar’s story proves that all you need is to believe in yourself and push through the difficulties and frustrations that social problems in the world are fraught with.  Overall, I was extremely satisfied with Edgar’s story. I love how personal it was, and how the act of simple storytelling so intensely inspired me to want to make a difference in my world. The fair trade movement is something I have grown to become very passionate about, and the fact that it has the potential to positively impact the lives of so many women worldwide is what makes it even more worthwhile to me. I am desperately excited to jump into the real world and find the perfect connection to a group like Global Girlfriends, Camfed (Campaign for Female Education), Indre-et-Loire (an artisan group for women living in poverty in France), charity: water,, Girl’s Friend Nepal (a group inspired by Global Girlfriends) or any number of organizations that aim to eradicate poverty and create better lives for people living in stark, desperate conditions. Edgar’s story has inspired me by illustrating the power of networking, the importance of perseverance, and the strength of women in our world today.

-Review prepared by Sara Neville, Penn State Brandywine