Fair Trade – Alternative Shopping

By Jeanne Christensen, RSM


In  October, we discussed Fair Trade as an alternative shopping option and we noted that we would offer some ideas and  stores for you to consider. What seemed too early last month is now a reality – Christmas is just over a month away. As Christmas is the season of gift-giving, we will soon be considering our Christmas gifts. Many of us will make donations to worthy causes or organizations in someone’s honor, others of us want to give actual gifts.

If you are among the latter, would you consider giving a fair trade gift — a gift that ensures the artisan or producer gets a fair price for their product? Fair trade means creating sustainable and positive change. When items are fairly traded it means that partners participate in a system that aims to pay fair wages, creates long-term, direct trading relationships based on dialogue, transparency, equity, and respect. For those who live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the following is a list of ideas for purchasing a great gift while helping to contribute positively to the world at the same time:

Ten Thousand Villages at 7947 Santa Fe Drive in downtown Overland Park, Kansas offers gifts from around the world, knowing that the fair market prices empower artisans and producers from third world countries. Of special note is that Ten Thousand Villages has a holiday tradition of offering local not-for-profit organizations 15% of all sales made on Sunday afternoons before Christmas. This is an opportunity to not only shop but to enjoy reconnecting with friends, learning about the not-for-profit who is benefiting and to enjoy light refreshments.

Two of those benefiting are: Keeler Women’s Center which empowers women in the urban core of Kansas City through education, advocacy, personal and spiritual development. Their Sunday benefit is November 27 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. The Migrant Farmworkers Project’s (MFP) benefit is Sunday, December 4 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. MFP works in solidarity with seasonal and migrant farmworkers to obtain a healthier, more secure, and more fulfilling life. MFP offers them social, legal, health care and educational services. MFP feels closely connected to the fair trade imperative because the Lafayette County farmworkers whom they serve are exactly the kind of people who have been displaced by global free market practices. On one hand, MFP supports fair trade to keep workers in developing economies at work. On the other hand, they want to support the farmworkers they know so well who have been forced out of their home countries.
KC Organics and Natural Market is hosting a fair trade event on Saturday, December 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This Market will be held at Notre Dame de Sion High School at 10631 Wornall Road, ¼ mile South of I-435. There will be locally produced holiday gifts, including baked goods, seasonal produce, body care products, gift baskets, hand-made eco-cards, wreaths, fair trade coffee and more.

1st Baptist Church of Kansas City, MO offers Equal Exchange fair trade items – coffee, tea, chocolate, coca, and sugar. They are located at 100 W. Red Bridge Road, KCMO. For details, call 816-942-1866.

Both The Roasterie and Parisi Artisan Coffee purchase all of their coffees directly from the producers. They prefer to go to the origin, assess the product offered, make arrangements for purchase and shipment, and pay the farmer a fair price directly. Both also offer an organic line of products and both sell select blends of coffees at Costco. The Roasterie has three locations in Kansas City, sells beans to local grocery stores, and has a line of products that are Fair Trade Certified. Parisi Artisan Coffee also seeks to directly assess  the growers’ commitment to employing sustainable farming practices.

Lastly, the Fair Trade Holiday Market in Lawrence, KS that will open November 27 and 28 from 8a.m. to 7p.m. and again from November 29 to December 3 from 10a.m. to 7p.m. It is located at Ecumenical Christian Ministries 1204 Oread Ave, Lawrence, KS. The Market offers fairly traded arts and crafts from local and international artisans that make unique holiday gifts. It is organized by Lawrence Fair Trade, a community group dedicated to raising awareness of global economic injustice and working to establish sustainable solutions.
Also, donations can be given in a person’s name as an alternative gift to local and national organizations such as UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, Amethyst Place in Kansas City, Center of Concern, Keeler Center, OxFam, Amnesty International, Migrant Farmworkers Project, The Justice Project in Kansas City, Sleeyphead Beds, St. James Place on Troost, or any not-for-profit of your choice. The needs are great and monetary gifts are always welcome. You can also support or find gifts online through organizations like Catholic Relief Services, namely their Work of Human Hands project, or Equal Exchange.

You might also contact the organization of your choice to find out what their needs are. A great example is our Catholic Worker Houses – Holy Family, Cherith Brook or Shalom. Their needs are especially great when it’s cold; blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and thermal underwear are just a few. Make a donation of needed goods in honor of a friend or family member.

Shop at locally-owned businesses such as Rainy Day Books in Fairway, KS, World’s Window or Stuff in Brookside rather than big-box stores. Gift cards to locally-owned and operated restaurants such as The Westside Local and Chez Elle on the Westside, Pot Pie or Teahouse and Coffeepot in Westport, or Eden’s Alley in Unity Temple on the Plaza  are also good options. Another avenue to explore is purchasing only Made in the USA products.
There are many more alternatives for Christmas gifts. We know we have not included them all. If you have one or more you want us to know about please send them to jchristensen10@kc.rr.com, and we will include them in the December edition of the KC Olive Branch.

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