As a market organizer that created and ran a fair trade market in New Orleans for 5 years, I researched the idea heavily, many times while sitting at my neighborhood fair trade coffeehouse, Fair Grinds. I did find the fair trade argument thin in places, as it seemed to be more about a fuzzy mostly environmental rating on a bag and less about the part that a market organizer would focus on: that it offers more direct relationships with farmers and allows for a fairer accounting of labor and resource use. The painstaking knowledge of what it takes to farm and to survive in colonial regions is often reduced to a sepia toned photo of a farmer and a name on a sign. What is also interesting is that fair trade has not spread past commodities such as coffee and chocolate. Where is the fair trade wheat or sugar for example? And as more and more distributors enter the game, everyone it seems has at least 1 fair trade coffee on the shelf, often with very little paperwork or knowledge to support it. So, it seems to me to be have developed as more of a brand for consumers than a new values-based set of relationships. I will say, I continue to support my fair trade coffeehouse and purchase it when I can find it.
This article explains some of the weaknesses that it has as a movement, but I will say, their argument that it lacks a “single issue” focus is, in my mind not one of them. In any case, I appreciate the article and the magazine that published it.
Community activist, public market consultant and writer
Working since the 1980s on social change issues while encouraging civic activity across North America. I live in the Gumbo Nation (New Orleans) and raised here some but mostly in Buckeye Nation (Cleveland). I provide support and consulting for localized food systems, especially farmers markets. Bicycling, clean water, pocketbook issues, true wealth generation, reanimating public spaces and direct action democracy are also within my focus. Have blogged for a decade, have published essays and non-fiction since 2001.
Independent Researcher and Trainer Darlene Wolnik offers:
Analysis: Research and reports on public market organizational structure and governance or logistics.
Conference or workshop preparation: Building or running educational/networking events for food organizers.
Grants: Assistance with public market project grant-writing including research of subject, draft narrative and final editing.
Reports: Researching and writing for public market organization or food system projects.
Speaking: Keynote speeches or workshop development and/or facilitation.
Technical Assistance: Phone, email, webinar or in-person technical assistance for public market startups or project work for market organizations. Phone, email, webinar or in-person technical assistance for funders or stakeholders of food system projects.
Fees upon request: a percentage of pro bono time offered with most individual market-level projects.
This blog focuses on the intersection of retail anthropology and social justice issues in order to start some ideas flowing and conversation about how we can use public markets.
It's updated Mondays and Thursdays.
Search this blog
articles case studies/research civic engagement conferences Congress economic development issues environmental issues evaluation farmers/farming information farmers markets FMC food policy general governments incentives industrial food system international farmers market news Main Street market vendors national food system work New Orleans food other sectors public health public markets retail anthropology/science of shopping social cohesion USDA useful websites webinars Where's Dar now?
Click here to read about sailing alone and anchoring together….
Darlene Wolnik-Helping Public Markets Grow
Recent and current work:
•Independent research for case studies of governance of markets. Found at helpingpublicmarketsgrow dot com
• Independent research for market characteristics. Found at
helpingpublicmarketsgrow dot com
•Brooklyn NYC-Conducted a series of trainings for community markets for the Brooklyn District Public Health Office (BDPHO).
•Brooklyn NYC- Assisted BDPHO with developing farmers market technical assistance programs.
•Colorado-Assisting Boulder Farmers Markets with strategy sessions.
•Farmers Market Coalition-Writer/Researcher: Assisting with University of Virginia Morven Summer Institute course on farmers market evaluation.
•Farmers Market Coalition: Writer/Researcher for training and technical assistance project.
•Louisiana: Assisted LSU AgCenter and Farmers Market Coalition with first statewide market conference.
•Louisiana: Assisting students at Southeastern University in Hammond with food system research and farmers market strategy.
*Louisiana: Assisting Urban Conservancy with day-long Community Wealth Workshop featuring Michael Shuman in New Orleans LA
• Maine: Researched farmers market job descriptions for People's Regional Opportunity Program work with farmers markets.
•Mississippi: Assisting Gulf Coast markets with surveys for location and customer/vendor satisfaction.
•NOFA-VT- Designed and led evaluation workshop for VT markets.
•VT-Dept of Ag: Researching SNAP, FMNP technology and policy answers for VT farmers markets in collaboration with NOFA-VT
•Wallace Center: Researching and writing case studies of successful direct marketing Mississippi farmers and markets.
*Why Hunger: Creating online toolkit for grassroots communities in 3 regions.
*Creating articles and researching resources for WhyHunger's Food Security Learning Center
Feel free to contact me at my name at gmail dot com I might be able to help your market or business.
Public Markets Book Club