What You Think It Means: A Fair Trade label means that workers have been paid a fair wage for their labor and have been treated responsibly. It is also a guarantee of no child or forced labor.
What It Really Means: The Fair Trade seal does mean that workers were paid above market prices for their cropsand that there was no child or forced labor. The “treated responsibly” part is not necessarily true, however. It is also important to point out Fair Trade does not equal organic, chemical pesticides could have been used to grow this product. There is on going controversy and debate around whether or not large-scale plantations should be eligible for Fair Trade certification.
Take Away: Paying fair wages is important and that is what the fair trade label is communicating to you. The label is not without controversy, however, and does not mean that the product you are buying is organic, unless explicitly stated.