Credo: Edouard Rollet 

Edouard Rollet is co-founder and chief operating officer of Alter Eco, a fair-trade brand distributed in over 2,000 stores across the US.

Who has had a big influence on you in your life?
It comes from my family, such as my calm grandfather when I was a child, to my active and optimistic wife, Ilse. It comes from my workplace; my business partner Mathieu, our team here in San Francisco and Alter Eco’s founder in France, Tristan. But as important, I am influenced a lot by daily encounters, whether it’s a homeless person telling me their story, a cab driver, a chef or an Alter Eco customer who tells me how she came to start eating organic and fair trade foods.

Is there a “Golden Rule” by which you live?
That would be positivity and fairness. These are not rules but more of a journey. A journey that requires love and empathy. Understand the other, especially his or her struggles.

Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the trips we take when visiting the Alter Eco partner cooperatives in the developing world such as the cacao co-op in the Peruvian Amazon. Farmers do the oldest job in the world and feed the planet; we must care more about them and treat them better.

Where do you go in San Francisco to feel like you’re traveling?
The Mission is, of course, the closest you can get to Central and South America. For a less-urban travel experience, a weekend camping in the redwoods feels just like being in the Amazon rainforest!

Describe Alter Eco and the goal behind its work.
Alter Eco is a fair-trade, organic and artisan food brand. We build relationships directly with farmer-grower cooperatives in developing areas of the world that produce nutritionally rich, quality artisanal food products. By paying these farmer-growers a better wage than the global markets currently do, we can source, produce and sell higher-quality, better-tasting foods that are also better for the environment.

How would you explain fair trade to our readers?
Fair trade is a system by which organizations such as Alter Eco work directly with groups of marginalized farmers in developing countries. There are billions of them since most of the food commodities we consume usually come from farmers who have 1,
2 acres of land and have to sell their crop at a price that is below what it costs them to produce. As a result, farmers in the current global system get poorer and poorer and end up leaving their farms to live in the slums. With fair trade, these farmers, who are regrouped into transparent and democratic cooperatives, are guaranteed a better price for their products so they can make a living and invest in their future, such as paying for their children’s education. In addition, we wire a premium to the cooperative for each pound that we buy. The co-op or village gets together once a year and decides how they will spend this development premium, such as building a water well, operating a mobile clinic, buying llamas to generate natural fertilizer or a truck to facilitate crop transportation.

About The Author

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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