This article is from the Philadelphia Barista Examiner:
Over the past five years, the sale of Fair Trade products has increased almost 40%, and continues to grow as consumers become more concerned with sustainability. The movement's roots can be traced all the way back to the 1940s in North America and Europe with the intention of providing relief to the impoverished communities of the world, but started to make real strides in the late 80s. As world coffee prices started to decline considerably, the first Fair Trade certification initiative was born, opening doors to both the mainstream coffee industry and coffee growers alike.
The United States is the largest consumer of coffee in the world, and Fair Trade Certified coffee is currently the fastest growing segment of the specialty market. It guarantees a living wage to farmers by increasing their income and putting in place tools for self-sufficiency, and also empowers consumers by helping them be part of a social movement that positively impacts the lives of poor farmers throughout of the world. Fair Trade is also beneficial to the environment, because smaller farmers tend to grow organic, shade-grown coffee that protect certain species of wildlife as well as preventing the clear-cutting of large areas. Not only are there notable community and environmental impacts of Fair Trade, but small, artesanal farming methods result in better quality product than high-quantity, cost-cutting practices.