Fair Trade


Fair Trade

Do you think about people thousands of miles away when you eat?

No, of course not! And why should you? What has your food that you have right here in front of you have anything to do with the people that are miles and miles away?

This is the question that most people would retaliate with not really realising the repercussions of buying from brands that have no fair trade certifications on their products.

After watching the documentary Black Gold that focused on two sides of the consumer spectrum. From the luxurious lives of the people drinking coffee to the impoverished lives of the farmers forced to work for less than a dollar. From Ethiopia to the United States of America and England, you could clearly see the contrast. A jar of coffee that we buy can pay the workers that pick the cocoa (which producers much more than a single jar of coffee) for a week. A week….

After watching this documentary, I sat there thinking to myself, what little difference could I make? I couldn’t very well quit my job and travel to the forests of Ethiopia and fight for the justice of the cocoa farmers and live amongst the people doing protests to raise awareness now could I?

Unfortunately we can sit and point fingers at the big brands over our morning cup of coffee and newspaper but really in this scenario we also become unwitting slave drivers by patronizing these brands simply because of what the media tells us is good. Although Starbucks said that the movie was “incomplete and inaccurate” behind the movie producers’ backs, while showing a front of supporting the movie even going so far as to fly Tadassee (the main character from the documentary) and four other African Coffee Producers to their headquarters for a conference. Tsk tsk Starbucks. Tsk.

So what can we do in this world of uncertainty?

Simple: Make the switch

I stress the importance of making the switch from paper-infested homes and work places to a paper-free zone but the important things aren’t always about going paper-free. I don’t stress enough about making better consumer choices conscious of the fact that we have the power to affect the lives of farmers and producers all over the world.

But what are you switching to?

Fair trade. It’s as simple as that. You’re switching to fair-trade products. So how do you know when a product has been fair-trade produced? The rainforest alliance has labelled such brands with a lovely green symbol popularly known as “the frog” that aside there are other small labels on the bag you should look for that indicate that this product is into fair trade. You will be making a difference in the lives of the people far away.

To find out other places that are supporters of Fair Trade you can visit sites like

http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/products/retail_products/default.aspx

http://fairtradeusa.org/shopping-guide

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/green-living/shopthefrog?country=237

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