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 Coffeehabitat.com. 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, http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/apex/ideasearchresult?s=Fair+Trade+Certified+Coffee

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