Interview with Interrupcion* Fair Trade’s Michela* Calabrese

What is the mission and history of?interrupcion* fair trade?

  • interrupcion* is a stakeholder community that is working to build a positive future through responsible consumption, sustainable community development, organic farming and fair trade.
  • We seek to build a model of trade and global interaction between consumers, businesses and producers that positively impacts the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the world.
  • interrupcion* integrates the interests of the public and the private through our non-profit and for-profit collaborative model.? We do this by developing an ever-growing assortment of delicious Fair Trade and Organic products, continually investing in the sustainability of each of our supply chains and building a network of consumers, businesses and producers joined by the common desire to build a better world through responsible action.? We offer market accessibility and micro-credit for producers, fair wages for laborers and farmers, fair trade premiums for producing communities, and continual positive processes for our earth.
  • We began as a non-profit organization in Buenos Aires, Argentina dedicated to promoting socially responsible business and citizen participation in response to the dramatic Argentine economic collapse in 2001. Through our many community projects and awareness campaigns we witnessed the amazing change that is possible when individuals come together for the common good of society.
  • In 2003, our first socially responsible products arrived in New York: colorful, scented candles from a small candle making cooperative in Buenos Aires. Today, our product catalogue has grown extensively as we continue to partner with small and medium producers throughout Latin America to create premium, all-natural organic and fair trade products while investing to build sustainability into each aspect of our production.
  • We believe that the journey toward a sustainable future begins when we interrupt* habitual ways of understanding our personal impact on the world to develop a new, global sense of influence that creates responsible action. This concept of interrupting* to create a more responsible, healthy and sustainable form of participation in society gave us our name: interrupcion*.? The asterisk* symbolizes the process behind the product.? It reminds us to look at the positive impact we can have on the workers harvesting our fruits, their children, the producing communities, and the earth.? As we like to say, ?your purchase* is power?

2) What are the challenges to running a 100% fair trade business?

  • Sharing risks with farmers by guaranteeing a fixed minimum price that covers costs and an additional fair trade premium that goes towards the vitality of the producing communities? health and education
  • Nature and climate change create unpredictability for seasons and harvests, increasing risks for all involved

3) What are some of the current trends in fair trade and organic?

  • GROWTH, new items, new markets
  • Huge amounts of information is available to consumers regarding where the food came from and how it was made, and their learning
  • Connecting with our food supply
  • Nutrition and Vitality in our food

4) Fair trade seems to be at a crossroads. What do you see as the future of fair trade?

  • A world where fair pay for fair work, and positive environmental processes, exist as a standard in our food system.
  • Where we can buy fairly traded food at the supermarket, or the local farmers market, in our produce, and in our shelf stable groceries.
  • Greater accessibility to all global citizens despite class or geography

5) Please share a success story from one of your producer partners.

During 2009-2010, Interrupcion* Fair Trade sold over 58,000 boxes of fair trade organic blueberries from our Chilean partners Green Tribe.? Accumulating over $26,000 in Fair Trade Premiums, the group was able to provide immediate relief to Chile after the country was struck with a massive earthquake in February 2010. By investing nearly half of the premiums towards relief, families were provided with emergency houses, materials were provided for any necessary reconstruction, and aid was provided for the proper treatment of waste. In just moments, The Fair Trade premiums were translated into a sense of hope, strength, and refuge for a community at large?true success in their eyes. ?They developed centers of recreation for families as a way to meet the immediate social needs of their communities. Further, students in the community were given financial aid for payment to enroll in school, and recently, the Ancoa River was cleaned to improve community aesthetics as well as to return times of leisure, and relaxation to families and friends. Our producers in Argentina have focused their Fair Trade Premium investments on economic sustainability, providing the unemployed with jobs, and workers with necessary materials and technologies, such as computers and television sets. ?Interrupcion* Fair Trade Blueberries have been a key player in the development of health, education, and social and economic sustainability of our blueberry communities.? It is every time we learn of the story of Mr. Paez?s son who had a tumor that affected his mobility, but had a beautiful room constructed for him that was funded by an Interrupcion* Fair Trade premium, that you understand what purchasing these products truly means, and it means success.

6) What is next for Interrupcion* ?

  • Fair Trade Bananas from the Dominican Republic, Asparagus from Peru and Argentina, Cherries and Blueberries from Chile, Strawberries and Raspberries and Blackberries and avocados from Mexico, snow peas and string beans from Guatemala, Pineapple Fresh Cuts from Costa Rica
  • We imagine growing our community and going from working with 15,000 rural laborers in 2010 to 15 million in the decades ahead, creating a virtual positive cycle of commerce that benefits all of its stakeholders*

Michela* Calabrese

Director of Stakeholder Communications, interrupcion* fair trade

[email protected]

For more information about? interrupcion* fair trade please check out their website.

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