Posts Tagged ‘fair trade’

Coffee, Faith and Fellowship: Reflections from El Salvador

Monday, September 10th, 2012

By Cheryl Mrazik

I made it all the way through both my undergraduate and graduate school education without a sip of coffee. That’s right, you read correctly – I somehow survived late nights of studying and paper-writing without constant caffeination. Believe it or not, the catalyst for my initiation into the world of coffee consumption was the fellowship I observed among co-workers over their first cup of coffee each morning, sitting around a table with a steaming mug and chatting about life.

And, truthfully, my foray into coffee – as romanticized as this sounds – has been a gift in my life. After all, a cup of coffee is much more than that requisite jolt many of us rely on to wake up each morning. How many times have we caught up with old friends over a cup of coffee, showed hospitality to others by brewing a pot for guests, or attended “coffee and donut” hours after church services? Coffee is about friendship, fellowship, unity, and as we at CRS have come to believe (largely due to the fair trade movement), coffee is also about solidarity, respect, and partnership.

This other powerful, unifying force of coffee has never been more apparent to me than on a recent trip to El Salvador with CRS Fair Trade partner Equal Exchange, during which we visited one of their partners, the Las Colinas coffee cooperative. Our time at Las Colinas was a beautiful example of the solidarity and partnership that comes from Fair Trade. The farmers couldn’t help but beam with pride and excitement when we talked about our friends, families, and other Equal Exchange customers purchasing and enjoying coffee grown at Las Colinas. And we couldn’t help but share their pride and joy when they told us that, as a result of the social premiums they earn as fair trade producers, their community has celebrated its first high school graduate, followed by many others since.

Fair Trade Month Highlights Important Programs

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Fair Trade Cafe

Three girls in the Saint Maximillian Kolbe youth group at the first annual Fair Trade Cafe. Photo by Stephanie Bosse

Our daily decisions as consumers have the power to build a market place that benefits us all. Catholic Relief Services’ Fair Trade program provides an opportunity for US Catholics to purchase Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and handcrafts through a network of fully-committed Fair Trade companies.

October is Fair Trade Month, and CRS is highlighting the important work being done around the world for this cause.

CRS’ Fair Trade program is committed to economic justice and environmental stewardship. It works to ensure that disadvantaged farmers and artisans receive a fair deal for their products. Watch this slide show and learn more about the difference this program makes in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Coffeelands Photo Tour of Coffee Shops

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Some people collect spoons or plates during their vacation travels. Michael Sheridan collects coffee shops — or at least pictures thereof.
Check out his latest Coffeelands photo gallery here.

Who Practices Fair Trade Principles?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Fair Trade is theoretically a pretty straightforward concept.  We all need to trade in order to get our needs and wants met.  HOW we trade can get complicated in a complex and diverse marketplace.

The Fair Trade Federation (the association for North American organizations who are fully committed to Fair Trade) has established nine principles upon which Fair Trade is based.  Thanks to the support of the CRS Fair Trade Fund, a new website has been launched,, that provides a collection of case studies to explain the Fair Trade business model.

Fair Trade Coffee at Home and in the Field

Monday, April 26th, 2010

You can now get fair trade coffee news at two sites, one geared to the consumer perspective and one written from the field and grower’s perspective. takes you to a page with two gateways. Click on the left and visit our Fair Trade coffee site for news and features about CRS fair trade. Click on the right and go to Michael Sheridan’s Coffeelands blog about all things coffee from the field.

Christmas List: Peace, Justice, End of Poverty …

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

From our friends at CRS Fair Trade:

When you do your Christmas shopping through Work of Human Hands, it’s possible to ask for the impossible; gifts that create new possibilities for those living without peace, justice or the means to provide for their families. Now those gifts can be available to you at a more affordable price.

Happy Anniversary Fair Trade Pioneer!

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Tonight CRS Fair Trade will be joining in the 60th anniversary celebration of our long-time crafts partner SERRV. From a small group of church relief workers helping refugees rebuild after World War II, SERRV has grown into a $9.5 million fair trade network connecting thousands of artisans in developing countries. Since 1995 SERRV, through the Work of Human Hands program, has helped tens of thousands of Catholics in the United States participate in Fair Trade through community sales and catalog purchases. SERRV is also currently working with partners of CRS Madagascar to help improverished artisans earn fair income. The anniversary party tonight will be at SERRV’s historical headquarters and warehouse in New Windsor, Maryland. CRS staff, including Executive Vice President Joan Rosenhauer, will turn out to cheer the staff and volunteers of this influential Fair Trade leader. We also will express our deep gratitude for the years of partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect.

Help Grow Fair Trade Support IV

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

CRS recently spoke with parishioners of St. Camillus Catholic Church in Silver Spring, MD, about their efforts to incorporate Fair Trade products into all of their activities and events.

If we want to use the St. Camillus model, what needs to be considered?

Here are some things to consider:

Help Grow Fair Trade Support III

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

CRS recently spoke with parishioners of St. Camillus Catholic Church in Silver Spring, MD, about their efforts to incorporate Fair Trade products into all of their activities and events.

What is the price for the Fair Trade products?

These premium products are offered for sale at the cost of the product and shipping.  The price paid is usually much lower than retail prices for similar quality products, so parishioners are getting a great value while providing farmers a fair wage.  When shopping, St. Camillus parishioners learn more about Fair Trade, and are encouraged to support Fair Trade by looking for the labels shown on food packages.

Help Grow Fair Trade Support II

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

CRS recently spoke with parishioners of St. Camillus Catholic Church in Silver Spring, MD, about their efforts to incorporate Fair Trade products into all of their activities and events.

How Did St. Camillus Build Support for Fair Trade?

The Fair Trade team began to build awareness of the need for Fair Trade through bulletin inserts.  Parishioners who were from other countries or who had been on mission trips also gave testimonials about the value of economic solidarity. Posters and resources were placed around the parish to garner interest and share information.