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Why You Should Shop a Little Smarter This Month

Look for this seal when you shop for the Fair Trade stamp of approval. (Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA)

Written by Ashley Koff, R.D. FITNESS advisory board member and founder of Ashley Koff Approved

October is a unique time of year.  As summer ends and winter approaches, we make changes to adjust our bodies and minds.  The changing of seasons is a great time to think about our health and power – individually and globally. It's an important time to learn about women's empowerment and health issues (such as breast cancer awareness), but also another issue that affects women and sustainable food production directly–Fair Trade Month. It's a time to think about how everyday purchases affect the lives of millions of families who produce the food that feeds us.

You may think of Fair Trade as a label for your daily cup of coffee, but do you know what’s behind it? Fair Trade certification helps to improve the lives of women and their families across the globe, as well as protect the environment. This really hit home for me when I heard is the story of Maria Filha de Jesus, a coffee farm worker in Brazil who has needed eyeglasses for many years but could not afford them (she is 60!); it was getting harder and harder to do her job and see at home. Now that Maria works on a Fair Trade farm, she receives a wealth of benefits and finally got her long overdue pair of glasses that will allow her to continue working with the ability to pick the best beans possible.

Everyone can help women like Maria with the power of their dollar. Buying Fair Trade Certified products like tea, coffee, chocolate and produce (among others) not only guarantees that you are getting quality products, it means mothers, children and communities worldwide get paid fairly which translates into better healthcare, social care, environmental care and so much more.

That's why this month is the perfect time to celebrate women’s health and empowerment through your everyday choices. Creating big impact is easy. For example, simply swap one of your staple grocery items with a Fair Trade Certified product. Why not upgrade your morning caffeine routine by switching your typical brew for a cup of Fair Trade Certified coffee paired with a Fair Trade Certified banana? It's that simple, and makes a bigger difference than you think.

Read on for a Fair Trade recipe perfect for fall from Koff.

Many Fair Trade products are also organic, meaning less pesticides and pollutants for you!

Mama's Morning Quinoa

serves 4

• 1 cup Fair Trade Certified quinoa (rinse and dry before using)
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
• 1 tsp Fair Trade Certified dry ginger
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 cup water
• 2 Tbsp toasted walnut oil
• 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
• 1 cup blueberries
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. In a frying pan, lightly toast quinoa for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and combine with mint, ginger and salt.

2. Meanwhile in a large 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and quinoa mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the water is fully absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy.

3. In a cup, whisk together the oil and lime juice. Pour the quinoa from a saucepan into a mixing bowl. Fold toppings into the quinoa. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and combine well. You may serve this warm or cold by allowing it to chill at least one hour (better if overnight).
Nutrition info per serving: 361 calories, 19.6g total fat, 0.0mg cholesterol, 153.3mg sodium, 40.4g total carbs, 6.0g dietary fiber, 8.6g protein