“Support your farmer.”
“Fair Trade makes a difference.”
You’ve likely heard these phrases proclaimed in your community lately. In fact, you may have even said them yourself. But in a world with seemingly endless options of brands and products to choose from, why has this movement been steadily growing for the past decade?
Despite the enduring popularity of huge chains and online marketplaces, the American economy is seeing a renewed interest in small businesses operated by friends and neighbors, quality handcrafted products, and locally grown, seasonal food. And the reasons are pretty simple. When we shop local, our communities benefit. Several studies show that shopping local not only keeps our neighborhoods unique, but it reinvests our dollars into other small businesses, vendors, and farms — which, in turn, strengthens the foundation of local economies. And what’s more, local nonprofit organizations receive about 250% more funding from small businesses than large ones. It’s a win/win! When we support small businesses, we are supporting our own community.
The same thing happens when we shop fair trade. By supporting small workshops in developing nations, we are ensuring that a fair wage is paid up front, a traditional craft is kept alive, and that the community thrives. When parents earn steady and fair incomes, they can afford school fees for their children. When workshops get consistent orders, materials are sourced locally and sustainably, which helps other businesses flourish. And when fair trade cooperatives work together, they reinvest their profits into initiatives like healthcare, education, and sanitation. Shopping small can also be global!
The growing shop small and fair trade movements have led to an increased availability of products that are made locally, in small batches, or ethically sourced. Our home office is located in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where a rich agricultural tradition has long provided opportunities to buy local. There’s a small, thriving city here that is known for its famous farmers market, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and locally owned businesses like Thistle Finch Distillery.
Thistle Finch Distillery was started by Andrew Martin in 2013, and has embodied the “buy local” and “handcrafted” movement ever since. Not only is he is a self-taught distiller, he even built the stills they use himself. He considers his work a craft, and for good reason. Nothing in his facility is automated, and the spirits are all handmade in small batches. Each bottle is also numbered and wax-sealed by hand. The building itself is a lovingly restored historic tobacco warehouse, and most of the raw ingredients used to make the spirits and cocktails are sourced locally.
So, what’s better than a cocktail made with locally sourced ingredients? A cocktail that’s mixed with a handcrafted cocktail set from our artisan partners India!
Noah’s Ark, a fair trade organization in Moradabad, India, supports a number of workshops specializing in traditional metal and wood crafts. Businessman Samuel Masih observed that exporters and middlemen were exploiting local artisans, so in 1986 he started Noah’s Ark to promote their craft in a more ethical way. The fair trade business has grown over the years, and each new metalworker employed there helps to build a stronger community. Earnings are invested into equipment for underprivileged artisans, training, and benefits such as medical treatment and education.
WINTER COCKTAIL RECIPE
- 1 1/2 oz pepper rye whiskey
- 2 oz apple cider
- 3/4 oz cinnamon
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 1-2 splashes liquid egg whites
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake.
- Add ice and re-shake.
- Pour into a Collins glass.
- Garnish with a fresh apple slice.
Sometimes buying local and shopping small is as easy (and fun!) as making a cocktail!
This winter, invite some friends over, fix some drinks, and make time to connect with each other while connecting with local and fair trade makers.