If you have a hankering for a Chilean cabernet or South African shiraz, you'll be happy to learn that wine certified by TransFair USA is launching in the United States this month (which happens to be Fair-Trade Month). Produced in compliance with strict criteria — including guaranteed minimum prices and fair labor conditions — fair-trade crops, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, rice, and now wine, empower farm workers in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty. And it's working. According to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, which sets worldwide fair-trade standards, the global retail value of Fair Trade Certified products reached $3.6 billion last year, up 47 percent from 2006.
As fair trade grows, so does its emphasis on environmental issues. According to Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA, more than two-thirds of all Fair Trade Certified products sold in the United States are organic. “That's a huge statement about what we value,” he says. “As a convergence of social benefits and environmental standards, fair-trade organics are truly the gold standard.”