Food is an important factor in our lives and one hugely relevant part of a complex interwoven relationship around this world that includes money, power, living standards, health, and even war.
Yes, your sourcing and purchasing of food affects people in many ways. Buy food sourced from exploitative practices and you are indirectly advocating those practices.
One basic rule of thumb is that the producers of food should be paid a decent price for their produce so that they and their families may survive, just like our farmers and producers here in Ireland. Sounds simple and obvious, but of course that is before you factor in the other equally relevant human conditions of greed and exploitation.
While exploitation occurs here in Ireland, it is mainly in the developing world that producers are most at the mercy of buyers who set the price of foodstuffs.
With this in mind let’s look at the notion of ‘fair trade’ that we hear about, and what it is.
What is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade is an organisation that promotes the idea of guaranteeing prices for producers in developing countries. This essentially gives security to farmers and producers in poorer countries who then receive a guaranteed minimum price for their goods. This allows vulnerable people to achieve some security in planning for their futures in countries that traditionally suffer from poverty, trade exploitation, among other uncertainties.
Where can I find Fairtrade products?
You can find Fairtrade products in many shops and outlets in Castlebar and Westport. Look for the Fairtrade logo, its displayed on products such as flour, sugars, coffee, tea, rice, some ice-cream by Ben and Jerry, dried fruit, fruit juices, biscuits, chocolate (drinking and confection) bananas, wine and roses. Ask your shop owners or mangers if they stock fair trade products. This is a simple and direct method of bringing more fair trade products to Irish shops, as, yes, it is still the customer who sets the market for shops, and not the other way around.
Westport and Castlebar are currently registered as Fairtrade towns, meaning that a minimum number of businesses serve and /or sell Fairtrade products. Canteens, hotels, offices, cafés as well as supermarkets are all signed up to this commitment and will only continue doing this if the public both encourage them and buy the products.
All around the country people are gearing up for the Christmas baking season, ‘tis the season to be jolly … and baking! Whether it is freshly baked coffee cake for tea or a warm barn brack and some chocolate-biscuit treats, or your secret recipe for the Christmas cake, the festive season is a great opportunity to use Fairtrade products; and when all that work is finished you can always relax with a glass of Fairtrade wine or fruit juice.