The origin of Fair Trade in the world dates back to the late Fifties in the Netherlands, with new ethics rules: social and economic justice, recognition and solidarity with farmers and sustainable development. This kind of commercial exchanges want to ensure fair compensation for producers (in some cases even a loan before the harvest). We look for a direct contact with associated small producers, often cut off from large commercial circuits and doomed to abandon those crops and succumb. The non-profit cooperative “Mondo Solidale”, recognized by the Marche Region, with headquarters and warehouse in Chiaravalle, was established in 1993 and coordinates 17 shops scattered in the provinces of Pesaro Urbino, Ancona and Macerata.
The shop which is nearest to us is that of Tolentino. It has been opened for over 18 years and it’s directly run by volunteers and members.
Both foodstuffs and handcrafts can be found in fair trade shops. The first are packed in Italy by small companies using imported raw materials from over one hundred countries around the world and produced by small communities of farmers. The latter come directly from small cooperatives in Africa, Asia and South America. All this is meant to teach these people how to fish and cultivate rather than encouraging them to beg or simply giving them money.
In this way small producers can grow and consumers benefit from well finished products which are intended both to preserve our health and protect and sustain the environment. The fair trade aims to have organic products, without dyes, preservatives or chemical additives, using brown sugar instead of the white one, which is too refined. Many products are gluten-free, some of them do not contain cholesterol and a few of them are vegan. In order to reduce CO2 emissions, for some years there has also been a line of food products at zero distance, such as flour, pasta and wine, that are products of the “Libera Terra”, which manages the lands confiscated from the organized crime.
Organic products for the household cleaning and personal hygiene come from a project in collaboration with the Brazilian women “Coppalj” organization, which extract the oily flesh of a variety of coconut getting the essential oils to produce soaps and detergents. Some of them are sold unpackaged, so as to save money and reduce the waste of plastic, which represents a plague for our rivers and roads. The handicrafts, together with spices, incense and scented wood, are of exotic origin and therefore can meet the needs of those looking for particular items. There are handcrafted baskets of all sizes and for all uses, made of natural fibers such as jute, bamboo, banana and straw. They come from Bangladesh and help to alleviate the suffering of this population, afflicted by natural disasters and the exploitation of multinational corporations. In the past times baskets were inevitable in our countries and farmers preserved in them fresh fruit, the dry one and lots of other things.
Brown sugar, granulated and crystalline, comes from Ecuador and from the Mauritius islands. There are many varieties of coffee, cocoa, tea and rice. Cereals of ancient origins and legumes come from different lands on the planet. Wool for sweaters come from fine camelids grazing on the Andes.
Jams have the taste of journeys, some of them take us back to the Fifties.
A curiosity: two handcrafted African rain sticks simulate the sound of rain falling and produce relaxing sensations.
It is worth repeating that fair trade products are not simply commercial products but they arise from collaborative projects with small producers who get dignity, respect and fair compensation. This helps them to survive and improve their social status, avoiding the low prices imposed by multinationals and cartels, from which, as we know, even Italian farmers dealing with oranges, tomatoes, wheat, vegetables and other products do not escape.
Translation by Caterina Bernardini