Fairtrade Fast

Sunday marks the end of the 40-day fast of Lent, and the drawing to a close of my self-imposed Fairtrade challenge. I have attempted to eat only Fairtrade or locally sourced (British) food for the lent period.

There have been a few obstacles along the way, notably the difficulties of eating Fairtrade or British products when eating out, or when invited to a friend’s for dinner. However, it has been a successful experiment, despite the initial unconvinced response from my family. I have succeeded in my mission (mostly – see obstacles above), perhaps not quite 100% of the time, but without kicking up a fuss in cafés or restaurants, and not wanting to inconvenience friends who have so kindly cooked for me, I have met my challenge more often than not.

The challenge has inspired some and confused others. My mother now avidly reads the labels on all the food she buys, and the local Fairtrade stall has had a booming business from us and others in the past few weeks. We have experimented with ordering an organic vegetable box (the majority sourced from the UK), although I’m still not sure if an extra layer of mud really is any better for you.  A variety of Fairtrade teas, cereal bars and biscuits now line the shelves in our kitchen and a visit to the local farmers market this weekend promises to bring some interesting additions to our diet.

It has been fascinating to see how far our food travels to reach the supermarket shelves, and has raised questions of supplier relations, whether giant supermarket chains are just sourcing the cheapest possible products, or whether they have any ethical standards for trading with the producers. A campaign I worked on last year lobbied supermarkets to treat producers fairly and engage in ethical trading practises. It has seen success in the implementation of an independent watchdog to monitor trading practices.

It has been encouraging to see the growth of Fairtrade, and now even in my local shop there are far more Fairtrade products on the shelves than when I first started this challenge. Whilst Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate are becoming mainstreamed, there is still a way to go before products like Fairtrade rice are more readily available.

I intend to carry on buying and eating as much Fairtrade or British products as is feasibly possible, but also recognise the importance of buying products exported by developing countries that play such an important part in contributing to their economy.

As I reach the end of my Fairtrade fast I’m very much looking forward to Easter Day, and hope that I might get to enjoy one of these delights!

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Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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