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May is Fairtrade Month

May is Fairtrade month, which means we're celebrating, advocating for and educating people about what Fairtrade means to farmers and workers.

Many of our favourite products—including coffee—wouldn't be available here in Western Canada if it weren't for the farmers and workers in the Global South. The Fairtrade Mark recognizes the products that were produced by those small-scale farmer organizations which adhere to rigorous standards.

Fairtrade certification means workers' rights are protected and they're given fair prices for their goods. A Fairtrade Premium—extra money paid on top of the selling price—is invested in their business or in community projects to improve living conditions for everyone. In addition, sustainable production and environmental protection standards are enforced.

Think of Fairtrade as a relationship between farmers in the Global South and consumers—a partnership that ensures a better quality of life.

"With the producers it's a guarantee of a minimum price, a guarantee of stability—work stability—because they have guaranteed work in their fields, a guarantee of education for their kids, a guarantee of well-being, a guarantee of health," said Alfonso Teja de Virico, Director at Café Monte Verde in Peru.

The Co-operative Coffee line includes two organic, Fairtrade varieties - Peru and Nicaragua. Peru has a smoky aroma and dark chocolate and crisp sweetness and Nicaragua has herbal fragrances and subtle hints of honey and caramel. Monte Verde supplies the premium-quality coffee beans for the Co-operative Coffee Peru variety.

The promise of a fair price has created an atmosphere where new businesses can thrive. In Rodriguez de Mendoza, the positive impact of Fairtrade agriculture is felt by everyone.

"From the person doing transport, from the person running a restaurant the person running a hotel… it's a benefit in general for the whole community," said Teja de Virico.

Coffee agriculture has a positive future, especially when there is strong demand for the high-quality, organic coffee that Café Monte Verde supplies. Organic production is labour-intensive, but it's an important part of the sustainability pillar of Fairtrade.

Peru coffee is produced in a way that conserves the natural environment and revitalizes areas degraded through forest fires, indiscriminate use or just by time. Coffee plants are grown either in the shade of new guava trees planted to add to nitrogen to the soil, or under naturally occurring trees that are native to the area.

"We keep them as reserves, we take care of them. It's prohibited to touch those areas, and the areas that were poorly cared for are now being brought back to life through coffee," said Teja de Virico.

With its benefits for workers, their communities, and the environment, choosing Fairtrade coffee is a way to ensure your daily indulgence has a positive impact.

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