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