I realise I'm probably preaching to the converted by posting this here, but I've just come across the book "50 Reasons to Buy Fairtrade", and I'd like to share, one reason at a time.
Reason 1. Back a system that benefits the poor. The mainstream trading system is failing the poor. Fairtrade offers partnership in place of exploitation.
The poorest countries do not benefit from 'free' trade - while Western nations are making huge profits, African nations have a shrinking economy, at about 0.8% a year, even though many valuable raw materials come out of Africa.
Millions of small scale farmers have been driven to bankrupcy as a result of subsidised food from the West being 'dumped' in their countries, undercutting their prices.
Throughout the developing world people are working in poor countries for less than a dollar a day to make goods such as clothes and toys for the Western world. Often these goods carry prestigious brand names and sell for high prices. But wages for the people who make them are rock bottom and working conditions are often appalling.
Fair trade gives the poor who actually make the products a better deal.