Thumbs up to the organizers, distributors and producers of fair trade coffee and other products in the Mankato area who have grown the fair trade business by tripling the number of stores that sell about twice the number of fair trade products since 2013.

The Mankato area has always embraced the idea of fair trade with Mankato being the first fair trade city in the state and Loyola High School being the first fair trade high school. Gustavus Adolphus College was the first fair trade college.

The Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative deserves much credit having helped promote Mankato as the state’s first fair trade city in 2011 and supporting the expansion of fair trade in churches and businesses.

The goal of fair trade is to make sure that workers who produce goods and services are paid fairly.

Mankato area demand for fair trade coffee also has been good for Beans Coffee Company, a local coffee bean roaster that sells fair trade and organic coffee.

A few years ago, the company started out with orders of green coffee beans from a wholesaler of just 25 pounds. Their more recent order was 1,700 pounds.

Fair food returns

Thumbs up to the Twin Cities family that generated a new way for Minnesotans to find their favorite food usually sold at the Minnesota State Fair.

With the cancellation of the State Fair, the family set up a Facebook page and invited vendors to let people know when and where around the state they would be set up to sell their food.

Lori Lexvold and her son Ian Lexvold set up a Facebook page Fair Food Finder asking 100 of their friends to put up information about state fair food vendors setting up shop elsewhere.

The Facebook group grew to 15,000 and now tops 90,000 members.

This was a great way to promote all the food vendors and help them maintain some income and get favorite fair food into the hands of those would be fair-goers.

About time

It took too long, but a thumbs up to the demise of the Aunt Jemima marketing image.

The racial stereotype used on pancake mix and syrup bottles of the Aunt Jemima brand should have been discarded long ago. Instead the 131-year-old image was merely updated by such small steps as removing her headscarf and giving her pearl earrings instead. The makers of Uncle Ben’s rice products are also looking at changing that brand’s identity.

And earlier this year Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes dropped its longtime Indian woman image from its packaging.

Companies are being forced to examine their sales tactics in the wake of the racial inequality cries that erupted after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer May 25. Money talks and the public doesn’t have to buy products that cast people of color as a more than century-old stereotype.

Removing stereotypical images from the consumer realm may not seem like a huge move when there is so much overall change needed, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Super sub crew

Thumbs up to the crew of Minnesota’s namesake, the USS Minnesota, for winning the 2019 Battenberg Cup Award.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine is homeported in Connecticut and under the command of Cmdr. Thomas Flaherty.

The annual award goes to the crew that best achieves excellence in all aspects of submarine operations.

While the current commander is a New York native, the USS Minnesota has a strong Minnesota tie. Rochester native Capt. Brian Tanaka was the sub’s first commanding officer, successfully completing a 50-month command tour and is credited with developing a strong sense of teamwork among his crew. Tanaka also came up with the USS Minnesota’s battle cry: “Be a Viking.”

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