Fairtrade America partners with three influential retailers and acclaimed artists to create murals that celebrate the people behind some of our favorite chocolate and tea brands
The murals are part of a larger campaign kicking off on Oct. 1 for October Fair Trade Month that includes a giveaway of a year-long’s supply of Tony’s Chocolonely, Organic India, and Navitas Organics products to three winners
In honor of October as Fair Trade Month, Fairtrade America is launching its third annual ‘Choose Fairtrade. Choose the world you want.’ campaign to generate broader awareness of how a simple everyday action, like choosing a Fairtrade certified product, is a powerful way to prioritize the people who grow our food. Fairtrade America and National Co+op Grocers (NCG) are closing the gap between American shoppers and the nearly 2 million Fairtrade farmers and workers around the world through new murals in three major U.S. cities – Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Portland. The murals will connect the stories of the people who produce the goods we enjoy every day, like cocoa and tea, to the positive impacts of Fairtrade. Now in its third year, this campaign brought inspiring murals to Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Tacoma in previous years. Throughout October, consumers can participate in an online giveaway and learn more about Fairtrade at choosefairtrade.org.
Fairtrade America partnered with notable mural artists and key retailers in three major metropolitan cities where mural art is already a prominent part of the culture. This year, all three murals will feature women farmers and raise awareness of several key areas of impact for Fairtrade, including promoting gender equality and building resilience to climate change. This campaign is more important than ever as farmers face inflation, worsening climate change, and lingering effects of COVID-19. Without intervention, studies show by 2050 as much as 50% of the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be available1, many cocoa-growing regions will become too hot to grow cocoa2 and adverse climate conditions will trigger a drastic decline in banana yields3.
“Now, more than ever, we must all do our part to prioritize a fairer deal for farmers,” said Kate Stritzinger, director of marketing & external relations, Fairtrade America. “With these stunning mural portraits of Fairtrade farmers, we hope to remind people across the U.S. that every trip to the grocery store is an extraordinary opportunity to choose the world you want. Business leaders and shoppers alike have an incredible chance to choose a world where the people who grow the food we use and enjoy every day, like cocoa, coffee and tea, get a fairer deal on their goods.”
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to trade based on partnership instead of exploitation, a partnership between those who grow our food and we who consume it. The producers featured in the murals represent millions of farmers in the Fairtrade system who produce their goods following Fairtrade’s rigorous economic, social and environmental Standards. Fairtrade’s model includes a Premium that farming organizations receive on top of the price of the product. Members vote to determine how the money is spent; typically investing in farm improvements or community programs such as increasing access to education or healthcare. In 2020, Fairtrade farming communities earned more than $204M in Fairtrade Premium in the top seven commodities alone.
Agnes Senesie Mural, by Muhammad Yungai, located at Sevananda Natural Foods Market, Atlanta
In Atlanta, Fairtrade America partnered with Sevananda Natural Foods Market, a fully vegan and vegetarian natural foods grocery store dedicated to offering food with integrity, to create a mural featuring Fairtrade cocoa farmer Agnes Senesie. Local artist Muhammad Yungai portrayed Senesie, a member of a Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperative, Liloma Agricultural Cooperative Society, Ltd, in Sierra Leone. Senesie inherited her cocoa farm after her husband died during the Sierra Leone civil war. To diversify her income and help pay for the intensive labor required for cocoa production, Senesie grows potatoes and vegetables in the off-season. Yungai’s mural is inspired by Senesie’s strength and determination to persevere. Some of the cocoa grown by Senesie’s community is used to make a variety of Fairtrade-certified items, including Navitas Organics Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, and Cacao Butter. The Navitas Organics Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Goji Power Snacks, and Cacao Butter are available for purchase at Sevananda.
“As part of our Superfoods with Purpose™ commitment, we hope to use our business as a beacon for positive change for human equality, farmer resilience, and planetary health,” shared Max Darcey, director of sustainability & quality at Navitas Organics. “Since our founding in 2003, Navitas Organics has prioritized close relationships with farmers and producers. We continue to invest in our supply chain and producers like Agnes in Sierra Leone. These investments help support local agricultural communities through the development of integrated, inclusive, and restorative organic farming that creates rural economic growth while protecting the environment.”
Ranjana Maurya Mural, by Nova Czarnecki, located at Outpost Natural Foods Bay View store, Milwaukee
Outpost Natural Foods, a co-op-owned natural food, and organic store founded more than 50 years ago that helped make Milwaukee the first Fair Trade City in the U.S., is home to the new mural by local artist Nova Czarnecki celebrating Ranjana Maurya. Czarnecki felt a connection to Maurya’s story and hopes others are equally inspired by this mural to commit to making ethical shopping choices. After growing up in Mumbai, Maurya returned to her ancestral Haripur village of Azmargh with her husband, Arjun who was a farmer. At the time, many grew wheat, rice, peas, and gram through conventional farming methods – which can involve a lot of chemical pesticides. After Arjun was injured, Maurya had to take over her family’s agricultural activities, starting with 1.4 acres. She took up organic farming practices – growing Holy Basil (Tulsi) – and joined the Organic India Farmer Producer Company Limited. Since then, Arjun and Maurya have had five children, and have continued to deepen their organic farming techniques and diversified their business to include raising dairy cows and growing other crops like wheat and corn. By converting to organic practices, Maurya and her community earn a higher Fairtrade Minimum and also receive an added Fairtrade Premium, that they can invest in initiatives that are meaningful to their communities. Tulsi Holy Basil, grown by Organic India’s partnered farmers, is the base of Organic India teas and infusions, including varieties available at Outpost Natural Foods.
“Organic India represents a community dedicated to healthy, conscious living and true wellness solutions,” shared Ori Ornstein, vice president of sales for Organic India USA. “We are honored to partner with farmers like Ranjana to make Tulsi teas and Ayurvedic-based herbal supplements that are ethically grown using biodynamic, regenerative agriculture practices.”
Deborah Osei-Mensah Mural, by Alex Chiu, is located at the People’s Food Co-op, Portland, Ore.
The Portland mural is located at the People’s Food Co-Op, an influential Co-op situated in the Pacific Northwest known for cultivating strong relationships with the food we eat and the people who produce it. Portland mural artist Alex Chiu captured Deborah Osei-Mensah, a Ghanaian cocoa farmer, Fairtrade youth ambassador, climate advocate, livelihood development officer of Ghana’s Asunafo North Farmers Union, and leader of the union’s monitoring and evaluation team. Alex is honored to paint Osei-Mensah’s portrait and bring attention to the great work that she does. As a father of two girls, he hopes that his kids will also strive to make a positive impact on their community like Osei-Mensah. Some of the cocoa grown by Osei-Mensah’s community is used to make a variety of Fairtrade-certified products, including Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars sold nationwide, including at People’s.
“Tony’s Chocolonely is an impact company that makes chocolate. We are dedicated to raising awareness of and eliminating inequality in the chocolate industry and hope to lead by example by having direct, long-term relationships with cocoa farmers in the Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana like Deborah and her community,” shared Aidaly Sosa, US head of marketing at Tony’s. “We hope through our work that we can inspire the industry as a whole to make the chocolate industry 100% free from exploitation.”
Fairtrade’s local retail partners in Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Portland donated wall space for the murals because of a shared passion for improved commodity pricing, as well as the other socioeconomic and environmental benefits of Fairtrade. During October Fair Trade Month, each store will host in-store events that will give residents the chance to taste the Fairtrade difference and learn more about the benefits of choosing ethically-sourced goods.
Nearly 2 million farmers and workers in 71 countries are members of 1,880 Fairtrade certified Producer Organizations. The murals in this year’s ‘Choose Fairtrade. Choose the world you want.’ campaign highlight two of Fairtrade’s key areas of impact: increasing resilience to climate change and promoting gender equality.
- Increasing Resilience to Climate Change: For farmers and workers, climate change is not a far-off challenge, it is their everyday life. They are already experiencing decreasing crop yields, soil erosion, pests, diseases, and changing weather patterns. Until farmers earn more for their crops they will continue to struggle to cover just their basic needs, let alone face the challenges of the climate crisis. Nearly a quarter of Fairtrade’s Standards relate to the environment and aim to minimize producers’ impact on the planet, while still meeting farmers and producers where they are both in terms of their local context and their business growth. These Standards ban the use of dangerous pesticides and GMO seeds, protect natural resources and encourage eco-friendly cultivation.
- Promoting Gender Equality: A large proportion of the world’s food is produced by women, yet gender inequality remains prevalent in farming communities worldwide. To help women succeed, Fairtrade’s gender strategy supports farming organizations in tackling the unequal power relationships that hold women back in the workplace and society. Fairtrade focuses on increasing women and girls’ human, social, financial, and physical capital to rebalance power structures between people of different genders. Today, 25% of Fairtrade’s producers are women. Fairtrade actively and intentionally works with women and men to fix power imbalances. From prohibiting discrimination in the workplace to promoting Premium projects centered on women to starting women’s schools of leadership —we know that investing in women creates a more just and fair world.
In addition to the murals, Fairtrade will offer a giveaway in October where three winners will receive a compelling prize package for showing their support of Fairtrade, including one mural art print of the winners’ choosing from this year’s murals, a Vitamix blender, a Fairtrade Yeti tumbler and a year’s supply of products from Navitas Organics, Organic India and Tony’s Chocolonely. Follow @fairtrademarkus on Instagram and visit choosefairtrade.org to learn more and participate in the giveaway.
“The women featured in our murals this year are facing even greater challenges as they navigate the effects of climate change, inflation, and the lingering impacts of the COVID pandemic. It is essential that we make choices that will create an environment where farmers can thrive, not just survive. We hope these murals help connect people across the U.S. to the real people behind our food and provide motivation to choose the world we want,” urged Stritzinger.
Fairtrade America works to rebalance trade, making it a system rooted in partnership and mutual respect rather than exploitation. It’s about businesses, shoppers, farmers, and workers all partnering so we can all experience the benefits of trade. Fairtrade America is the US chapter of Fairtrade International, the original and global leader in fair trade certification with more than 30 years of experience working for fair trading practices in more than 30 countries across the globe. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Fairtrade America is the world’s largest and most recognized fair trade system—part of a global movement for change. Learn more at fairtradeamerica.org, and by connecting with Fairtrade America on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2016), Climate and Chocolate, www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-and/climate-chocolate.
3 Source: V Varma and DP Bebber (2019), Climate change impacts on banana yields around the world, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0559-9
SOURCE: Fairtrade America