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Colleen from Share Organics Realizes the Importance of Fair Trade
By Miranda Radok on May 19, 2012
What's unique about this project here at Ejido Benito Juarez is that Baja Organic Agriculture (BOA) actually rents the land from the residents of the Ejido AND provides a stable source of income to the community there. BOA provides local jobs to the community which means that folks who are participating in the organic farm project there have job security - they are no longer required to commute for long distances to a job that may or may not be there, under conditions that may be exploitative. This partnership is unique because the residents of the ejido are in a direct partnership with an organization like BOA who is empowering the community rather than employing it as a cheap and expendable labour pool.
It is not atypical for ejido communities to rent their land to foreign companies that focus on growing food as cheaply as possible (while sacrificing the integrity of a Mexican labour force and local Mexican economies) to export OUT of Mexico where it can be sold at a higher price because the cost of production was undercut.
My time working at Ejido Benito Juarez caused me to reflect on globalization, Fair Trade and local economy. In my community we value eating and buying local, which I still hold as fundamental. However, I have learned of and experienced the importance using my purchasing power to support small local growers that are attempting to empower themselves in a system that is corrupt and does not have the interests of the people at its core. In other words, I think that it is imperative to support these little pocket economies that are trying to prosper from poverty. Even though my Fair Trade avo or mango may come from far away and is not local, by buying Fair Trade products I really understand now that I am supporting marginalized producers and people who have worked so hard to overcome adversity.
I realized that I purchase many many items that are not local, my computer, my ipod, my bicycle and I don't bat an eyelash. So why am I so hard on where my food comes from? I still think that local is important, but now I realize the impact that I can make for small scale growers and communities who live in poverty by buying Fair Trade when local isn't available.