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Support the solidarity economy: Fair trade food products from Equal Exchange & IRTF

Monday, December 28, 2020 to Thursday, January 28, 2021
Mon-Thu 10-3 or by other arrangement
IRTF, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113

 (See product list and pricing below.)

Support the solidarity economy. Fair Trade food products available from IRTF.

Support the solidarity economy. Get your fair trade coffee, chocolate, baking cocoa, and tea from IRTF! 

Each year, IRTF provides tens of thousands of dollars in much needed income to fair trade cooperatives in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. For more than three decades, IRTF has examined and challenged the current system of global capitalism dominated by big corporations, which exploits people and the planet. We are linked across the globe with small growers and producers—as well as authentic fair trade companies and nonprofits—in building an economy based on solidarity, putting people over profits. Another world is both possible and necessary; let’s build it together. Support authentic fair trade.

Fair trade is about more than just paying a fair wage. It means that trading partnerships are based on reciprocal benefits and mutual respect; that prices paid to producers reflect the work they do; that workers have the right to organize; that national health, safety, and wage laws are enforced; and that products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. In all, there are nine principles of fair trade. Fair price is only one of them. Read the Principles of Fair Trade here.

Read more at the bottom of this post about 1- fair trade certification, 2- some differences between fair trade and ethical trade/direct trade, and 3- how to shop fair trade in Ohio. Thank you for supporting the solidarity economy.


Equal Exchange and IRTF = Partners in Fair Trade

Why Equal Exchange?

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as a 100% fair trade worker-owned cooperative. Many other big commercial coffee roasters or retailers are involved in fair trade simply as a niche item for just one of their many product lines; and that’s as far as it goes.  For companies who are fully committed to fair trade, like Equal Exchange (the first fair trade coffee company in the US) it’s about transforming the food system. Price is only a part of it. It is mostly about relationship and mutual commitment to each other. Look for products that are 100% fair trade. If only 5-10% of a company’s product line is fair trade, you should question their commitment to justice for the workers who grow, produce, and process the product.

Read about Equal Exchange’s farmer partners across the globe here.




To make a purchase, email your order to Arrange for pick-up or home-delivery (in limited zip codes). Pay upon pick-up or delivery. Details at the bottom of this product list.




Vegan Chocolate bars (listed in order of cacao %) $4 each

92% Total Eclipse

88% Extreme Dark

80% Panama Dark

67% Mint Crunch

65% Orange Infused

55% Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper

55% Toasted Almond

55% Coconut Milk


Milk Chocolate bars $4 each

43% Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt


Mini Chocolates $5

pack of 25 minis (milk or dark)


Chocolate Chips $5

10oz bag of semi-sweet or bittersweet chips


Baking cocoa $7

8oz can of 100% cacao (cocoa powder) from the Dominican Republic


Hot cocoa mix $7

12 oz can

regular – with non-fat milk powder and pure cane sugar

spicy – enhanced with vanilla, cayenne, cinnamon



Olive Oil $15

17oz bottle, produced by Al Zawyeh cooperative on the West Bank

Freekeh $8

28oz bag of green bulgur wheat

Nuts $7

8oz bag of almonds (natural or roasted) from farms in northern California or cashews (natural or roasted) from producers in Central America, Burkina Fasso, and India

Coconut Oil $12

14oz jar from farmers in Sri Lanka

Almond Butter $11

16oz jar that is gluten-free, vegan, kosher, sodium-free, and non-GMO. 

Peanut Butter $8

16 oz jar that is certified organic peanut butter , won't separate , and requires little to no stirring. It is free of hydrogenated oils and contains no harmful additives.

Zanzibar Black Peppercorns $8

1.7 oz jar with grinder, sourced by a coperative of smallholder artisan farmers on the Zanzibar islands off of the eastern coast of Tanzania, many of whose families have been growing pepper and other spices (including their cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) for generations.


Smoked Salami: red wine and garlic $8

4oz -  seasoned with cracked pepper, red wine and garlic. From Vermont Salumi, each link is hand tied, fermented, and aged for three weeks to develop superb taste and texture.

Smoked Salami: smoked paprika $8

4oz - like all Vermont Salumi products, the salami is made from simple ingredients, careful craftsmanship, and always starting with antibiotic-free pork because it is healthier for you and the environment.


$5 (box of 20 tea bags—all organic)

Tea that is grown by small-scale farmers is revolutionary in an industry dominated by large plantations. Equal Exchange partners with small growers in India, South Africa and Sri Lanka to build this alternative supply chain.


Black Tea

Black, Chai, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Decaf English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast


Green Tea

Green, Green with  Ginger, Jasmine Green, Mint Green


Herbal – all are caffeine free

Chamomile, Ginger, Peppermint, Rooibos (red bush), Rooibos Chai, Vanilla Rooibos



$9 – 12oz package of ground or whole bean

$10 – 12oz package of organic decaf

$52 – 5lb bag of whole bean (available: Breakfast Blend or French Roast)


Coffees listed in order of light roast to dark:

Toffee Caramel (light)

French Vanilla (light) 

Café Salvador (light)

Breakfast Blend (organic) (med)

Love Buzz (organic) (med)

Colombian (organic) (med)

Mind, Body & Soul (organic) (med)

French Roast (organic) (dark)




Stainless steel coffee server (thermos/carafe). $33

Sup-R-Serv by Update International. This stainless steel double walled carafe with an unbreakable liner is vacuum sealed, so it will keep liquids hot or cold for hours. Press button top for easy pouring. 64 oz capacity


Glass coffee carafe. $12

Designed for a Bunn burner coffee maker. Branded with Equal Exchange: Small Farmer, Big Change. This is a perfect gift for the kitchen at your place of worship or employment or school. Produced by Duran Schott glass company in Munich, Germany. 12-cup capacity.




The History of Authentic Fair Trade, by Phyllis Robinson and Nicholas Reid. Illustrations by Vendela Larsson. $7

Graphic novel style. Paperback. 40 pages


A Cafecito Story, by Julia Alvarez . Illustrations are woodcuts by Belkis Ramírez. $14

Hardback. 58 pages.

Based on her experience trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story is a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez's deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.



Pick up your order at IRTF, Monday-Thursday, 10am-3pm, or by other appointment. Please confirm your pick-up time before you show up. Payment: cash, check, credit card.

Home delivery might be available within a few miles of the office. Inquire.


IRTF is located on the campus of St Patrick Church, 3606 Bridge Ave, Cleveland 44113, at the corner of  W. 38th St. Just one block north of Lorain Ave. Parking right in front of the building. Questions? Call 216.961.0003 M-Th, 10-3.





Learn more about fair trade.

1- Fair Trade Standards & Certification

2- Differences between Fair Trade and Ethical/Direct Trade

3- How to Shop Fair Trade in Ohio




Standards and Certification: Agricultural Products v. Handmade Products

There are two separate sets of standards. Why? Because an agricultural product (a banana, a coffee bean, a cocoa bean, etc.) is easier to trace from where it was produced to where it was processed to where it ended up on your grocer’s shelf. Handmade products have component parts (cotton, thread, dyes, metals, zippers) that are harder to trace.


Agricultural Products

Here is a list of standards to certify that the product is fair trade:

If an agricultural product is truly fair trade, it will ,likely carry a certification label: . This means they open their agricultural fields and processing centers to independent third party inspectors who investigate and make a report and recommendation to the certifying agency: Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO), Fair Trade USA, or IMO/Fair for Life.

If an agricultural product claims to be fair trade and does not have certification, you would need to investigate them. You could start by asking the folks at if they know anything about the company or their claims of being fair trade.


Handmade Products

There is no certification for handmade products (with few exceptions, such as Maggie’s Organics based in Michigan). However, most fair trade resale operations in the US belong to the Fair Trade Federation. The Fair Trade Federation makes sure that the products they sell meet fair trade standards (i.e., the Principles of Fair Trade). If the resale operation does not belong to the Fair Trade Federation, you need to investigate them individually with a set of questions to vet them to see if they are legitimately fair trade. Contact  if you need a set of those questions.




Consumers can educate themselves about the benefits of fair trade and the benefits of other labeling systems. Here are some examples: Ethical Trade, Direct Trade, Whole Trade, Rainforest Alliance. Consumers should compare and contrast the claims of each of the labeling systems.

Direct Trade is one system that has gained popularity over the past several years. Direct Trade claims that they benefit farmers more than Fair Trade does because they know the farmer and their family, they visit, they’ve met the workers, etc.

Here is a criticism of Direct Trade: Direct Trade is a relationship between a distributor in the US (say, a coffee roaster) and a farmer in Latin America who has a privately-owned coffee plantation. This is significant. Even if the coffee roaster in the US is paying the farmer more than they were getting in the past—and even if they’re paying more than the fair trade price—the Direct Trade system is not doing anything to change the basic dominant/subordinate relationship between the farmer (plantation owner) and their workers. Direct Traders say things like, “But the farmworkers are paid more because we pay the farmers more and they pass that along in increased wages to their workers.” Maybe. Maybe not. It’s still up to the discretion of the farmer who is the plantation owner, and, however nice a person they might be, has control over the wages and working conditions of the workers on the plantation.

Authentic fair trade is different. Authentic fair trade started as a way to support farmer-owned cooperatives and give them a way into the market. A cooperative is a different model of ownership. It is not the dominant/subordinate relationship of the private owner/workers. A cooperative is a jointly-owned business. It might have 10 farmer-owners, it might have 500 in a cooperative of producers.  The significant thing about the cooperative is that it is democratically run. The members elect their leadership; they have a say-so in their working hours and conditions; they have a say-so in how much each farmer gets paid and how to spend the “social premium.” (The social premium is an amount, usually around 15-cents per pound, paid by buyers like Equal Exchange to the farm cooperative above the agreed upon price for the coffee beans. The farmer-owners of the cooperative decide collectively how to spend the extra social premium on improvements in their community, like housing, education, nutrition, gender equity programs, etc.)

Besides the democratic nature of the cooperative, there are many other social, economic, and political benefits to having cooperatives in a country. For instance, right now in Central America, campesinos are facing huge threats of forced displacement and environmental destruction because of large private corporations and their conspirators in corrupt governments who prefer catering to corporate greed over the well-being of the people. Historically, cooperatives have led social movements for land justice, environmental justice, and democracy and in their countries.


Here is a good example from Guatemala: In 2006, the government of Guatemala was getting ready to ratify the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Small farmers knew this would be bad for them and good for multinational food corporations. How did they show their disapproval? The farmers—mostly members of cooperatives across the country—moved onto large government tracts of land and occupied them in protest. They shut down major highways. They encircled the Congress building. They kept the protest movement alive and showed that the majority of the people in Guatemala were against this free trade scheme. Did they prevail? No. The government went ahead and followed pressure from the US to enter into CAFTA. But if it weren’t for the strong cooperative movement, this strong showing of disapproval—and the international solidarity it generated—would not have happened.


Another example from Colombia in 2019:  People in Colombia (both in the cities and in the rural zones) have been dissatisfied with their government’s slow pace of implementing the 2016 Peace Accords that were meant to end 50 years of civil war in their country. In November and December of 2019, large scale protests were organized to pressure their president to do much more to promote and protect the peace process, protect the environment, and protect human rights. Especially in the rural areas, farmer-owned cooperatives and farm unions were instrumental in organizing masses of people to join these protests. Over 200,000 marched the first day in Bogotá. Broad based coalitions came together promoting a variety of justice issues. One issue key to people in the rural areas is the provision in the Peace Accords to enroll farmers in a program to substitute illegal crops (i.e., coca grown for cocaine) with legal ones (food products).  Many of the farmers who are leading this initiative in their communities are being assassinated. Why? Because the criminal groups that make money from the drug trade don’t want the farmers to stop growing coca, the main ingredient for cocaine. Farmers are demanding more protection from their government. The cooperative movement across Colombia (the land mass in Colombia is mostly countryside) is vital to the broader social movement for justice and peace in Colombia.

In sum: When companies sell fair trade products that are not produced by farmer-owned cooperatives but are produced by privately-owned farms instead, they are weakening the cooperative model. This is a detriment to both economic justice and to political justice.  Cooperatives have historically played significant roles in broader justice movements in their countries. Fewer cooperatives means less economic justice and fewer civil/political rights.



A- See this link on


B- See this link for stores in Ohio that sells products, all of which are fair trade products


C- See this link for stores in Ohio (mostly grocery) that sell products that are fair trade or contain fair trade ingredients


D- If there is a particular product you are looking for, you can go to and research it and ask the company if their product is available in your area.


Learn more about fair trade at