October in the United States is Fairtrade Month and Co-operative Month, and the two movements are joining forces to call for a fairer deal for farmers.
Now in its third year, the annual ‘Choose Fairtrade, Choose the World You Want’ campaign from Fairtrade America and National Co+op Grocers (NCG) aims to generate broader awareness of how everyday actions, like choosing a Fairtrade-certified product, “is a powerful way to prioritise the people who grow food”. In 2022, FA and NCG have partnered with three influential retailers – all of which are grocery co-ops – and acclaimed artists to create new murals in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Portland, cities where mural art is already a prominent part of the culture.
The murals will connect the stories of Fairtrade producers, many of whom are organised in co-operatives, to the positive impacts of Fairtrade – and all three will feature women farmers to raise the importance of promoting gender equality and building resilience to climate change. During October, each retailer will also host events, allowing residents to “taste the Fairtrade difference and learn more about the benefits of choosing ethically-sourced goods”.
“Now, more than ever, we must all do our part to prioritise a fairer deal for farmers,” said Kate Stritzinger, director of marketing and external relations, Fairtrade America. “With these stunning mural portraits of Fairtrade farmers, we hope to remind people across the US that every trip to the grocery store is an extraordinary opportunity to choose the world you want. Business-leaders and shoppers alike have an incredible chance to choose a world where the people who grow the food we use and enjoy every day, like cocoa, coffee and tea, get a fairer deal on their goods.”
She said the women featured in this year’s murals are facing even greater challenges as they navigate the effects of climate change, inflation and the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding: “It is essential that we make choices that will create an environment where farmers can thrive, not just survive. We hope these murals help connect people across the US to the real people behind our food.”
About the ‘Choose Fairtrade. Choose the world you want.’ Murals
Agnes Senesie, by Muhammad Yungai
Sevananda Natural Foods Market, Atlanta (a fully vegan and vegetarian natural foods grocery store dedicated to offering food with integrity)
Agnes Senesie is a member of a Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperative, Liloma Agricultural Cooperative Society, Ltd, in Sierra Leone. Senesie inherited her cocoa farm after her husband died during the Sierra Leone civil war. To diversify her income and help pay for the intensive labor required for cocoa production, Senesie grows potatoes and vegetables in the off-season. Yungai’s mural is inspired by Senesie’s strength and determination to persevere. Some of the cocoa grown by Senesie’s community is used to make a variety of Fairtrade-certified items, including Navitas Organics’ Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs and Cacao Butter.
Ranjana Maurya, by Nova Czarnecki
Outpost Natural Foods Bay View store, Milwaukee (a natural food and organic grocery co-ops founded more than 50 years ago that helped make Milwaukee the first Fair Trade City in the US)
After growing up in Mumbai, Maurya returned to her ancestral Haripur village of Azmargh with her husband, Arjun who was a farmer. At the time, many grew wheat, rice, peas and gram through conventional farming methods – which can involve a lot of chemical pesticides. After Arjun was injured, Maurya had to take over her family’s agricultural activities, starting with 1.4 acres. She took up organic farming practices – growing Holy Basil (Tulsi) – and joined the Organic India Farmer Producer Company Limited. By converting to organic practices, Maurya and her community earn a higher Fairtrade Minimum and also receive an added Fairtrade Premium, that they can invest in initiatives that are meaningful to their communities.
Deborah Osei-Mensah, by Alex Chiu
People’s Food Co-op, Portland, Ore (a food co-op known for cultivating strong relationships with food and the people who produce it)
Osei-Mensah is a Ghanian cocoa farmer, Fairtrade youth ambassador, climate advocate, livelihood development officer of Ghana’s Asunafo North Farmers Union and leader of the union’s monitoring and evaluation team. Chiu wanted to Osei-Mensah’s portrait to bring attention to the great work that she does. As a father of two girls, he hopes that his kids will also strive to make a positive impact on their community like Osei-Mensah. Some of the cocoa grown by Osei-Mensah’s community is used to make a variety of Fairtrade certified products, including Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars.