Adding Fair Trade

Every Tuesdays a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times flaunts the produce of the 99cents Only Stores, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, eggplants, berries, bananas, cauliflower, apples, and a lot more, a growing list in varying amounts for 99cents. What is striking is the discrepancy between those prices and those of any supermarket. One may during special sales and for a limited time get something for 99 cents, when one more than likely can get a pepper or a pound of apples. The low prices beg the question, how can they be possible? There’s a grower, farm workers, a distributor, a grocery chain and somewhere in there a middle-person or two. Each must make a profit. For some, like the farm workers, profit is more expandable than for others. It could be that the price is too low to be fair to all those involved. In an era when we are so conscious about carbon footprints and the benefits of organic, we may need to become more conscious of one more issue, fair trade, that is to ensure that no one is exploited, that no one suffers in the process of getting food to our table. Yes, some of the people who shop at the 99cents Only Stores are on tight budgets, and that is a concern since including fair trade into the goods we consume does raise the price. And yet some would be the very people who would benefit from the increase in wages and benefits of fair trade practices. For those of us who would not directly benefit, there is the issue of conscience and of knowingly participating in what would help many others. Fair trade already matters in goods such as carpets and some coffees, but it ought to apply to across the board.