Buy fair trade
As things stand, it would be very hard to live entirely on food produced within the UK; the systems that support us are so geared towards imports. Besides, imports of exotic food could easily be part of a low impact system of international trade. Dried goods – spices, cocoa, grains, pulses, dried fruit – can be transported without the need for fast, energy-hungry refrigerated air transport. Even bananas – delicious health food that they are – keep well enough that they used to be transported to Europe in sailing ships, a truly green form of transport! Buying some of our food from other parts of the world keeps a living contact between different parts of the world population – which could potentially be a beautiful and mutually enriching thing.
At present, however, agricultural subsidies for Western farmers, and unequal trade arrangements imposed by powerful rich countries on impoverished ones, have led to an obscene and ever-widening gap between rich and poor worldwide. We have as much cheap food as we want, whilst in other parts of the world people are starving, and forced to work in degrading, unhealthy and dangerous conditions for far too little money. And it’s only the rich – people whose basic needs of food, shelter and healthcare have already been met – who can afford the luxury of looking after the environment around them. Exploiting the rest of the world in this way is both evil and stupid – as green-thinking people realise all too well!
- Fair trade aims to build trading relationships between consumers in rich countries, and producers in developing countries, which avoid exploitation of both producers and their environment. Producers receive a guaranteed price for their goods, the security of long-term trading contracts, guaranteed minimum health and safety conditions, and support towards education and training opportunities – i.e. the kind of treatment that we in the West take for granted.
- The Fairtrade Foundation, the UK’s independent regulator of fair trade, has detailed information on fairtrade food and where to find it.
- The Day Chocolate Company takes fair trade a step further, because the farmers that grow the cocoa for Day’s Divine and Dubble chocolate are also shareholders in the company.