3 Texas-Based Fair Trade Brands To Support This October

Food & Drink

As the global supply chain strains to meet increasing demand, fair trade efforts become a low priority for many US corporations. October is Fair Trade Month, which highlights the efforts of businesses dedicated to a more equitable international trade system with respect and transparency.

Throughout the month, consumers can #FindFairTrade products both in local stores and online to support companies such as these Texas-based brands that hold true to their commitment to conduct ethical and equitable business.

Joaihú Craft Brazilian Cacao

Joaihú (pronounced jo-eye-hoo) is a newly-launched, direct origin, tree-to-bar chocolate company crafting fine cacao products from their agroforestry project and rainforest preserve in Bahia, Brazil.

The name is an ancient Tupi word that means “to love and be loved,” and that’s exactly how cofounders Kate Robberson and Charlie Stewart feel about the farmers which with they work. Their business practices go several steps beyond fair trade, which is why they chose not to pursue the official certification, opting to direct trade instead.

“At Joaihú, our cofounder is also our cacao producer,” says Robberson. “That’s about as direct as you can get. We don’t use third party systems or services for sourcing, which allows us to ensure the highest quality of cacao and great working conditions. On my trips to Brazil, I prioritize accompanying the harvest and developing relationships with the farmers. When we can identify needs within the collective that can improve farming practices, it ultimately leads to a higher quality of crop and amazing chocolate.”

Stewart and Robberson have a deep respect for both the environment and for the people. That’s why their company is committed to regenerative farming practices and ecological preservation.

“Joaihú started when we began thinking of ourselves as stewards of the Earth,” says Robberson. “Kate and I had built careers around environmental and social causes; working as artists, biologists, and community organizers. But it was through our own health and spiritual journeys that we were led to the magic of the Brazilian rainforest. And through relationships with plant allies and medicines came our connection to cacao.”

Joaihú produces three SKUs of ethically sourced chocolate, in 75%, 85%, and 100% cacao, available in select Central Market locations and independent retailers throughout Texas. It can be also be purchased online with nationwide delivery.

“We’re planning to do something special with each one of these expressions later this fall that will involve a trip to our nature preserve at Fazenda Boa Vista in Bahia, Brazil,” says Robberson. Those interested in possibly visiting the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest in 2023 should keep an eye on the Instagram page for updates.

Big Country Organic Hard Seltzer

Big Country® Organic Hard Seltzer is the first and only hard seltzer to carry three of the most distinctive and well-respected certifications in the food & beverage industry — USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Fair Trade Certified™.

For almost 10 years, they’ve been working with the same network of farmers in Paraguay, facilitating symbiotic partnerships and investing in local economies. Big Country works with a family-owned mill called La Felsina to ensure farmers work in safe conditions, practice eco-friendly farming, build sustainable livelihoods and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities.

In an effort to simplify the supply chain for equal trade and quality, Big Country imports organic cane sugar directly from Asuncion, Paraguay to Austin, Texas, where it’s fermented and transformed into a refreshing hard seltzer at the only Certified Organic brewery in Texas.

“Our philosophy is based on the simple idea that the products bought and sold every day are connected to the livelihoods of others,” says founder and CEO Bill Gillies. “Fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.” To date, Big Country has sent over $91k in revenue to the farmers.

Big Country hard seltzers are currently available in grocery and liquor stores statewide in Texas, at select retailers in California, and online. Each 12-ounce can contains 90 calories, 0 grams of sugar, 4.5% ABV, and is gluten free. The variety 12-packs showcase a recently refreshed package design and feature four new flavors – Blackberry Grapefruit, Passionfruit Kiwi, Prickly Pear Peach, and Watermelon Pineapple.

Casa Brasil Coffees

Casa Brasil began in 2005 as a Brazilian cultural center in Austin, Texas, offering free translations to Brazilians for immigration, legal, and medical matters; teaching Portuguese language classes and Brazilian music lessons and hosting cultural events. They also sold some imported Brazilian goods, but had difficulty finding a quality coffee. This sparked an interest in Casa Brasil founder Joel Shuler.

Over the next three years, Shuler spent much of his time in Brazil learning about coffee by interning at co-ops, visiting hundreds of farms, and practicing the art of cupping, or coffee tasting. He eventually worked his way up to judging various regional and national competitions and began building the relationships that would lead to Casa Brasil’s first import of coffee beans.

Fifteen years later, Casa Brasil is a full-time coffee roaster, with menu placements at some of the best restaurants and coffee houses in the area and a varied retail portfolio.

As his coffee career took off, Shuler continued his education with a master’s degree. Since graduating from one of the top coffee research institutions in the world, Schuler has taught hundreds of coffee growers and baristas about coffee tasting and processing.

Unlike other coffee roasters that blend flavors for consistency, Casa Brasil imports beans directly from independent farms and allows each batch to express its own flavors. Shuler searches for passionate coffee growers throughout Brazil that produce high quality beans, purchasing consistently above the Fair Trade price floor.

“We are proud to be pioneers in promoting high-quality Brazilian coffees in the US,” says Shuler. “Through it all, our love of Brazilian culture remains stronger than ever.”

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