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Fair Trade label comes to U.S.

Located just north of the Mexican border, the family-owned Wholesum Harvest is the first farm in the United States to receive certification from Fair Trade USA, which means it has demonstrated compliance with a checklist of more than 300 standards detailing working conditions and environmental protection.

Consumers in the United States have likely seen fair-trade labels on coffee beans or cocoa grown by farmers in countries like Ethiopia or Guatemala. But fair-trade certification now covers everything from clothing to seafood, and Fair Trade USA wants to expand its labels to cover domestic operations as well.

Officials at Fair Trade USA expect another dozen American farms to become certified in the next year. And over the past few years, other nonprofits, such as the Agricultural Justice Project and the Equitable Food Initiative, have launched their own labeling efforts.

Wholesum, which grows organic cucumbers, squash, eggplant and bell peppers in addition to tomatoes, was already fair-trade certified at its farm in Sonora, Mexico, so it was a natural step to apply for the label at its U.S. operation. It became certified in October, roughly four months after it began the lengthy process of audits and inspections.

"Fair trade is meant to do what laws have been unable to do," says Hannah La Luzerne, Wholesum's sustainability manager. The farm was voluntarily meeting many of the fair-trade standards, but she saw the label as a way to communicate the company's values with greater credibility.

Read more at NPR

Publication date: 4/20/2017



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