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Food Justice Action Forum

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
7-8:30pm EST

Join other Citizen-Consumers for monthly meetings to connect as a member of this community, engage in shared learning, and hear updates from Equal Exchange. If you are not already a member consider applying now to join our community.

Click here to sign up for this free monthly gathering of economic justice advocates. 

Please continue reading more about the Equal Exchange organizing effort called the Food Justice Action Forum (aka Citizenship-Consumer Network):

Members of the Equal Exchange Food Justice Action Forum gather (online) monthly to discuss innovation, global solidarity, social imagining and learning, and economic justice—the foundations of Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs). Join the movement to democratize our food system and end corporate control!

Alternative Trade Organizations (such as Equal Exchange) have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The monthly meetings of the Equal Exchange Food Action Forum (aka Citizen-Consumer Network) allow all of us to connect, build community, and have space to push our campaigns forward and engage in actions out in our local communities. In today’s overwhelmingly digital world we want to find ways to create meaningful and deep connections with this community, connections that are two-way, connections that are active, not passive.  Join us as we work together to build a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the Global South to consumers in the Global North!

 What are ATOs? Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) are at risk

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as an alternative trade organization (ATO) with the mission of connecting US consumers and small marginalized farmers from the global south from countries like Nicaragua, Peru, or India.  The vitality (and survivability) of ATOs is at risk because of increasing isolation from even their most natural allies like food co-ops. Here are some other reasons: 


1) Fair-Washing: Fair Trade is being stripped of its original meaning

The Fair Trade idea may have won successes in the last 10 years, but those successes have been limited. And in the process of gaining recognition and support, control has been wrested from small farmers and turned into a marketing attribute at the service of northern companies; it has been commodified and stripped of all real meaning. While some northern ATOs are still here and hundreds of farmer groups in the Global South hang on, "Fair Trade” as envisioned 30 years ago, is no longer recognizable.


2) Corporate Control: Our food system is being controlled by large corporations

In the wider food system, corporations control everything from seeds to supply and prices, while relentlessly chipping away at the regulations that inform and protect consumers. They fight feverishly to prevent us from knowing if GMOs are present in our food. They continue to promote production methods that hasten the warming of the planet—a present-day threat to millions of small farmers and others around the world. And, corporations count on consumers remaining unorganized to maintain the status quo.   


3) Consumers Can Make a Huge Difference: We need active consumer involvement

We now know that we cannot possibly succeed in our goal to transform the food system without the active, deep and committed participation of citizen-consumers like you. An authentic Fair Trade system requires democratic organizing of producers in the South, worker democracy for businesses in the North, and active consumer involvement in the North. 


What Are We Building?

We are taking a powerful, new step in building a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the South to consumers in the North. We believe that in order to be successful in realizing the original Fair Trade vision, we need to deepen involvement and participation in our model. In doing this, we go back to the best that Alternative Trade has always been about: innovation, global solidarity, social imagining and learning, and economic justice. This will be a long, slow process and a great challenge. We need your buying support, your investing support, and your political support. 


Please join us in building this dream. We invite you to help us shape the Equal Exchange Food Action Forum.