Fair Trade products considered on campus

Fair Trade, a national trend that is nothing new to Burlington, is finally making a long awaited appearance in UVM dining halls. Students For Peace and Global Justice (SFPGJ) kicked off Fair Trade Month on Oct. 4 with a presentation by Lindsey Bryan, co-president of SFPGJ. The month-long campaign is intended to increase awareness about Fair Trade on campus, with the ultimate goal to increase the amount of Fair Trade Certified products served in the University’s dining halls. Bryan explained the need for increased fair trade, on the international level as well as the community level, in order to protect farmers and the environment. Bryan encouraged students to sign the “Big Noise,” a petition targeted at the World Trade Organization to change the laws of international trade. For the past two years, SFPGJ has worked with Sodexho to make Fair Trade coffee available in all campus dining halls. As a result of this campaign, 70 percent of all coffee served on campus is now Fair Trade Certified and dining services hopes to reach a goal of 90 percent by the end of the year, general manager of dining services Melissa Zelazny said. SFPGJ is currently working on a new project to provide the University community with Fair Trade bananas, Bryan said. The problem is that the difference between a cup of Fair Trade coffee and conventional coffee is only about 3 cents, whereas a Fair Trade banana is about 30 cents more expensive than a conventional banana, Bryan said. “I don’t think they would sell the same,” said Sarah Clark, an employee at the Cyber Caf??, referring to the possibility of a more expensive Fair Trade banana. “The students are already complaining that we sell them for 77 cents” “I am currently doing an analysis with Black River Produce,” Zelazny said, “if it is a 2-cent difference that is not a big deal, but a 30-cent difference is.” Black River produce is one of the grocery providers to the University and would supply the Fair Trade bananas. Zalanzy is also looking into Fair Trade tea and cocoa. The month’s activities will include a film series, discussions and will culminate on Oct. 23 with a speaker panel entitled “Voices from the Fields: What Fair Trade Means to the Farmers.” The speakers with include a Fair Trade banana farmer from Ecuador, a watermelon farmer from Georgia, and a Vermont apple farmer.